The Lineup Shuffle – or deck chairs on the Titanic?

by billfer on October 25, 2006 · 7 comments

in 2006 Season,Managing & Strategy,Playoffs

Do the Tigers need to change their lineup? Jim Leylandis certainly considering it. The lineup question was one I was going to pursue yesterday before I ran out of time. Last night’s 3 single effort certainly has stirred the pot to the point of action.

The obvious problem with the Tigers lineup is that their best hitter, Carlos Guillen, is hitting 5th instead of the more conventional third. It hasn’t bothered me too much as I rationalize that it helps clean-up hitter Magglio Ordonez see better pitches, and Ordonez was better at getting on base than the 1 & 2 hitters late in the season.

But with Ivan Rodriguez hitting behind Guillen, guy who is hitting the worst in the lineup is behind the guy who is hitting the best. Guillen won’t get anything to hit, and a walk won’t help much if a 4-6-3 double play is right around the corner.

If it were up to me, tonight’s lineup would be Granderson-Polanco-Guillen-Ordonez-Monroe-Casey-Rodriguez-Inge-Bonderman. And really Monroe and Casey could be flipped. Both have showed signs of life this series

Now Leyland will probably make a change tonight, but it won’t be that drastic. It may just be moving Polanco to 2nd and Casey to 3rd dropping Monroe down to Casey’s slot. It’s a lineup that Leyland is comfortable with, but it won’t address the problem of having Guillen and Pudge paired.

Now the funny thing is that it takes a game like last night’s to prompt the change. In all reality the lineup order last night made no difference. There’s no way to optimize a lineup that produces 3 baserunners all night.

UPDATE: Via Danny Knobler tonight’s lineup: Granderson cf, Monroe lf, Guillen ss, Ordonez rf, Casey 1b, Rodriguez c, Polanco 2b, Inge 3b, Bonderman p.

I can certainly buy into this lineup. Guillen is between guys who might do something positive, and he’s also between 2 righthanders which may discourage the use of a lefty reliever to turn him around.

 
 

{ 7 comments }

Darrin October 25, 2006 at 2:28 pm

This series has certainly surprised me, and I could not have been more wrong.

I can only think that the combination of the long Tiger layoff and the Cards’ unlikely win in Game 7 at Shea has turned the delicate balance of momentum towards St. Louis.

I made an observation to a friend of mine about the Tigers after they finished off the Oakland sweep. I told him that there was something fascinating about the way the Tigers were winning their games. Everything was coming just a little too easy. EVERY move Leyland made was correct; it seemed every time they needed a hit, they got it; everytime they needed a double play grounder or strikeout, they got it.

Therefore, I predicted a Tiger’s sweep in the World Series, but I warned him to look for signs of a breakdown. I said to him something to the effect, “I think the Tigers will sweep, but they better not lose a single game because once they lose one they may not be able to put it all back together again.” I still have haunting memories of the ’04 Yankees beating Minnesota 3 straight, then OWNING the Red Sox for 3 straight. Once they lost that first game, they could not recapture anything and went down in a great whimper.

I’m not saying the Tigers will collapse in that same way, but all the warning signs are there.

Here’s to a good effort tonight because the way they are hitting now, the Tigers can ill-afford to go down 3-1.

Ken from Cincinnati October 25, 2006 at 2:33 pm

The article about Leyland deciding to “change it up a bit” somehow dares to ask the question, “Will Polonco be replaced in the line-up by Neifi Perez?” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. (cough) HAHAHAHAHA What an irresponsible piece of journalism.

Darrin October 25, 2006 at 2:35 pm

The weather certainly will not be good for tonight’s game. However, it is not certain yet whether it will just be sloppy, or if there will be a full-fledged delay/postponement.

Also, keep in mind, that tomorrow night is also in jeopardy, as there is currently a 100% chance of rain tomorrow as well.

Personally, I think a rainout (or two) works very favorably for the Tigers.

T Smith October 25, 2006 at 5:04 pm

Darrin,

I am not very surprised at all. If we started this series two days after Maggs gets the dramatic walk off, we’re looking at a 3-0 series right now. But I agree with you, the week off quelled all momentum.

Personally, I think the Tigers would have found their lost momentum quickly were they playing the Mets. As the Mets have no pitching to speak of, I think we would be 3-0 right now, looking for the sweep. The one thing that stymies the Tigers’ rythym is really good pitching. Even though the Mets might be considered a better team than the Cardinals, overall, I was worried going into this series with the way Suppan was pitching, going against Carpenter, and even going against Weaver (and on top of that, Reyes pitches the game of his life). We were able to get 3 runs off Weaver, and behind Rogers, that was apparently good enough. But in my mind, that’s a break, not momentum.

What we need is about eleven runs by the forth inning in game 4 to turn things back to the heat setting was saw in Oakland. That just might get things rolling again in the Tigers direction. Anything short of that and we will be lucky to sputter into game seven, locked at 3.

We also need Leyland to start make some right decisions. I was in the camp of giving Leyland “the benefit of the doubt” for starting Verlander game 1, since every decision he’d made thus far in the postseason was apparently gilded with the Midas Touch. But I didn’t understand it at all. Verlander will be dominating again next May, after much needed rest for his young arm, but it obvious he’s spent, and the numbers don’t lie; he has been the weakest link in the rotation. Why on earth would you try to start the momentum back up with your weakest pitcher?

Unless the Tigers roll over and play dead or do manage to score the aformentioned eleven runs pre-5th inning, circa game 4, I see this series playing out much like the NLCS, with each team sputtering toward the momentum edge down to a game seven decider.

Bob S. October 25, 2006 at 5:38 pm

I don’t think it’s time to push the panic button yet.But,if they lose game 4…LaRussa sat down Rolen when he was an automatic out during the Mets series,pissed him off,and he came back gangbusters.Anyone think Leyland should try something similar with Pudge?I’m also wondering if his hitting problems aren’t effecting his defense-he looked like a statue on that wild pitch.
I didn’t like starting Verlander in the first game-Rogers is the ace of this staff right now,he was rested,he should have started,followed by Bonderman.If Verlander doesn’t get his fastball back,and considering the Cardinals for some reason hit RHPs better,what about Ledezma taking his place in the rotation?
Darrin,I agree,somewhat.The Cardinals have some momentum right now-maybe a couple extra nights off would work to our advantage.On the other hand,it brings Carpenter back that much sooner.

Darrin October 25, 2006 at 7:51 pm

Bob,

The issue with Carpenter is moot — if the series goes on long enough he will be back anyway, be it game 6 or 7. IMO, if the Tigers are to win this series, they are almost assuredly going to have to beat Carpenter at some point. On the other hand, the Cards could potentially wins this without having to beat Cy Rogers.

Smith,

I don’t know how to describe the Tigers now. The best description is that the “bloom is off the rose.” They just don’t seem to me to be the same “golden team” they were just two weeks ago. Even Leyland seems stale — his whole “I’m not going to chew yesterday’s breakfast” spiel sounded tired. I’m NOT going to start in with the pine tar incident, though I do have opinions on the matter. I will only say that the entire event has not had a positive influence on this team.

Bob S. October 26, 2006 at 7:37 am

Not entirely moot.Chances for a game 6 Tiger win increase with anybody but Carpenter on the mound(even factoring that he’s a different pitcher on the road).
That was my reasoning for wanting Rogers to start the Series-win as many games as you can as early as you can(not to mention that the veteran Rogers seems to be thriving off the playoff intensity right now and was probably more mentally and emotionally capable to deal with the distractions of the first World Series game in Detroit since 1984).
I don’t think there is a ‘pine tar’ effect.Was the controversy in game 2 responsible for the Tiger’s poor play in game 1?

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