Vote: Who should be the Blue Jays' starting 2nd baseman?
Maicer Izturis considered the superior defender, Emilio Bonafacio the faster runner
The Toronto Blue Jays have taken care of the "Who’s on First" question entering spring training, with Adam Lind expected to play the bulk of games there against right- and left-handed pitching.
To borrow the "What’s on second" line from the famous Abbott and Costello comedy act of 1940, the battle between Maicer Izturis and Emilio Bonafacio is a guessing game as Blue Jays position players begin reporting to spring training Saturday.
At the team’s recent "state of the franchise" event at Rogers Centre, general manager Alex Anthopoulos shot down reports that he had promised Izturis the starting job when the free agent signed a three-year contract worth $10 million US in November with a $3-million team option for 2016.
"We signed him to compete for second base," said Anthopoulos of the 32-year-old Izturis. "There were no guarantees beyond that. I’m very big on being clear, never overpromising anything."
The younger Bonafacio was part of a 12-player trade with Miami on Nov. 19 and viewed by Anthopoulos as someone who could play all three outfield positions, as well as second base, third and shortstop.
Citing the potential for injuries, Anthopoulos believes there will be plenty of at-bats for both players in the 2013 season.
"Someone’s going to get hurt," the GM said. "The fact these guys can play multiple positions … it allows to not need as deep a bench."
Many consider Izturis the favourite to start the season at second over Bonafacio because of his superior range in the field and ability to turn the double play.
At the plate, many baseball observers believe the 27-year-old Bonafacio has greater upside. The switch-hitter’s approach with the bat differs from Izturis in that he strikes out 20 per cent of the time compared to 10.7 per cent for the right-handed hitting Izturis, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
While Bonafacio possesses more speed (30 steals to 17 in 2012), Izturis holds a slight edge in the power department, with a three home-run edge when comparing their most productive offensive campaigns.
There is also talk the Blue Jays might be better served using Bonafacio as a utility man and pinch-runner. Being a switch-hitter, it would allow manager John Gibbons to substitute him on days when the left-handed hitting Lind is the team’s designated hitter or for centre-fielder Colby Rasmus, who also hits left-handed.
Please vote in our poll and use the comment section below to explain why you believe Izturis or Bonafacio should be the Jays' starting second baseman for the April 2 season opener against the visiting Cleveland Indians.