2004 Marlins Outfield Preview: Left Field

Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine was brought back to his adopted home in 2003 to help his old team return to the glory they had when he left after 1997. The cost to bring him back was high but what he returned more than justified the expense. What should Marlins fans expect from Conine in 2004?

Jeff Conine
Vital Stats:
DOB: June 27, 1966
Birth Place:Tacoma, Washington
Height: 6'1 Weight: 220
Bats: Right Throws: Right

2003 Recap:
2003 was a rebirth of Jeff Conine's career of sorts. His yearly statistics were on a noticeable decline over the past 5 years. Part of this was due to nagging injuries that Conine was suffering from. Although some believed that at 37 years old he was on the downside of his career.
Jeff began his season as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, where he had played for the past 4 years. He was having a very successful season with the Orioles playing 1B as he was hitting .282 with 15 homeruns and 80 RBI in 493 ABs.
On September 1st the Marlins traded two top pitching prospects; Danny Bautista and Dan Levinski to re-acquire Mr. Marlin who was traded away as part of the dismantling of the 1997 Championship team.
Conine was asked to fill the hole left in the lineup when 3B Mike Lowell went down with a broken hand. Down the stretch Jeff filled in admirably. While his stats during his time as Marlin were not all that impressive; .238 average with 5 homeruns and 15 RBI in 84 at bats, Conine seemed to make every big play at every key moment both at the plate and in the field.
In the post-season Conine hit .367 with 1 homer and 5 RBI in 60 ABs. He also had the key defensive play of the post-season when he threw out JT Snow at the plate for the final out of the Divisional Series.
The cost for acquiring Conine was extremely high, but when all was said and done the contributions he made more than justified the cost.

2003 Statistics:

Year

Team

AVG

AB

R

HR

RBI

2B

3B

SB

BB

SO

2003

Florida

.282

577

88

20

95

36

3

5

50

70



Player Analysis

Batting:
Conine has a very wristy snap action swing. His bat speed has taken a noticeable decline as he has gotten older. But Jeff can compensate for this through his disciplined approach in the box. He can often be over-powered by hard fastballs but he knows how to work the count and is able to work breaking balls and off-speed pitches to all areas of the field. He has quality gap power but is no longer homerun threat he once was.
At this point in his career Conine relies on veteran experience but he is still at his best when he has runners in scoring position.

Base Running and Speed:
Once again, Conine once had good speed but age and nagging leg injuries have robbed him of most of it. However, he is still a very effective base runner because of his intelligence and experience. Pitchers also can't ignore him on the base paths because if they aren't careful he will swipe a bad on them.

Defense:
When he was with Baltimore he was moved to 1B because the Orioles believed that he could better avoid nagging leg injuries by having less ground to cover, thus making him a more effective overall player.
The Marlins however need Conine to play LF. They may be able to get away with this since Pro Player has a comparatively small left field area to cover.
Even though he doesn't have the speed he once had, Jeff can still adequately play the OF because he anticipates and breaks on the ball extremely well.
His throwing arm while average is extremely accurate.


Overall:
While Conine is still a very valuable player because of his ability to produce in the clutch, his presence in the clubhouse and his popularity with the fans, he is not the player he once was. The Marlins should not expect to have Conine play LF for 162 games and receive the kind of production he is capable of. This may be another reason why the Marlins made it an off-season priority to acquire Wil Cordero who can also be called upon to give Conine a night off now and again by filling in LF. They can also occasionally use Conine at 1B where he is a very effective defensive player.
One thing can be certain though, and that is if the Marlins need performance for another post-season run. They will receive first rate clutch play from Mr. Marlin Jeff Conine.

2004 Projections:

Year

Team

AVG

AB

R

HR

RBI

2B

3B

SB

BB

SO

2004

Florida

.277

455

65

16

83

29

2

5

40

62




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