Leyland to make drastic change to lineup

by billfer on May 4, 2008 · 68 comments

in 2008 Season,Managing & Strategy,Offense

Following last night’s game a frustrated Jim Leyland suggested that he “might shake up the lineup a little bit” for Sunday’s game. He did just that with Sheffield getting the day off and Miguel Cabrera assuming the third spot in the order. But more changes are a-coming starting on Monday. Changes so drastic that Leyland suggested they might be termed drastic.

Now in Jason Beck’s blog he indicated that there wouldn’t be changes in personnel, meaning that Jacque Jones will continue to flail away at the bottom of the order. But aside from that, what could these dramatic changes be?

Shuffling Sheffield, Ordonez, Cabrera, and Guillen would probably be noteworthy, but hardly dramatic. With Pudge Rodriguez and Jones hardly distinguishing themselves at the bottom of the order, it’s not like they would be deserving of a more prominent role. That would probably be more shocking than dramatic. And I have to believe that Placido Polanco is firmly entrenched in the 2-spot.

That leaves me with this thought for the dramatic move. Gary Sheffield to lead-off and Curtis Granderson to the middle of the order. That would certainly count as dramatic, and there would be some logic behind it as well.

Sheffield’s power is lacking. Whether it is age, or injury, or slump he has not been able to drive in runs. But, he hasn’t been totally unproductive with a .340 OBP. He sees a lot of pitches, and when he gets on he’s a smart baserunner. And if you’re wondering if Sheffield has ever hit leadoff before, well he has but only in 10 games. Plus it takes Sheffield out of the 3 hole without significantly disrespecting him.

Meanwhile Curtis Granderson established himself as an extra base machine. The quad-20 trick aside, Granderson gets on base and he does it with power. Plus depending on the sequencing the lefty-righty match-ups in the middle of the order could make things more difficult on opposing managers.

So that’s the move I’m looking for. It would qualify as dramatic and it makes sense. Of course Leyland’s lineups don’t necessarily make sense so maybe Timo Perez will be your new clean-up hitter.

 
 

{ 68 comments }

Mith May 4, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Granderson in the third spot would be GREAT.

Kevin in Austin May 4, 2008 at 3:56 pm

Good post Billfer. I agree with your rationale.

Bill James showed in the 1988 Abstract (sorry guys, couldn’t find a good link to the section on batting order, but I’m assuming that most of you know what I’m referring to) that batting order really doesn’t matter, but I can’t see the hurt. I don’t think that things will get any worse, and they can certainly get better for Sheff & JJ. Also, I think we could see more of Raburn or Renteria leading off when Sheff rests (or is injured).

Adam May 4, 2008 at 4:05 pm

Grandy third YES.

Tony May 4, 2008 at 4:36 pm

Well, after yet another error from Guillen, I wonder if JL will consider putting Shef on the DL and Inge at 3B until Shef is healthy.

Eddie May 4, 2008 at 4:38 pm

Polanco and his ground ball tendencies scare me after anybody who will be on first base a lot. He works well behind Granderson because of all the extra base hits. I fear there will be a lot of double plays if it’s Polanco behind somebody else.

Hopefully this means a rotation of Thames, Raburn and Inge in left field. Jacque Jones simply isn’t providing anything on either side of the ball, and it’s getting to be time to cut bait.

Jim Romanov May 4, 2008 at 6:16 pm

Hate to hurt Sheffield’s feelings!!!
Hey, if these over-paid prima-donna’s can’t perform then put someone in that does…bat Shef 9th. It’s suppossed to be a team game. It’s a matter of being hungry to win. The whole team has been lethargic. As much as I like Leyland and respect him – he needs to get tough. These games count. And if we end up missing the playoffs by 1-2 games, it would be tragic just because we’re suppossed to show some veteren’s some respect. This is professional sports. These are grown men. They should be able to handle demotions for non-performance.

Vince in MN May 4, 2008 at 6:22 pm

The “drastic” change I am looking for is Leyland to finally figure out how to use a bullpen.

Eric Cioe May 4, 2008 at 7:31 pm

Vince – I kind of agree. He really should have let Rogers try to finish the 7th today. He protects bullpen guys by playing matchups (maybe a bit too much), but doesn’t protect them by trying to let them start innings rather than come in with runners on.

I understand this can’t always be done, and maybe he saw something with Rogers today that I didn’t, but I couldn’t figure out why he was pulled.

stephen May 4, 2008 at 7:36 pm

Good thing we didn’t give Guillen a big contract extension because it doesn’t look like he can play the field anywhere.
Oops we did. That deal rivals the Mets giving Luis Castillo a four year deal extension for overpaying for an admittedly talented but creaky player. I love Guillen at the plate, but didn’t he miss games last year with ‘sore legs.’ And then you basically give him four more years? That seems at least one too many. We’re gonna suck in the field at least one position for the rest of the year. Pick your poison: Sheffield in left and Guillen d.hing or Guillen at third and Sheff d.h.ing.
I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Inge has to start at least half the games at third and all on Astro Turf. Bat him ninth and hope he bats .250. It’s not ideal, but the third base play this year has been killing the team.

tiff May 4, 2008 at 8:15 pm

extra base machine!!

I would hope Grandy would thrive in the 3 spot.
I would also kind of like to see Sheff out of the lineup for awhile.

Tim Lyons May 4, 2008 at 8:20 pm

Leave Rogers in, you kidding? But he didn’t let Miner warm up enough. Should have had him up in the 6th just in case. Besides the hitting, how many errors are we going to put up with? Seems like 1-2 a game. Way to many for major leagueers. Need to put Inge back at third & rotate the DH spot til they find someone that can hit consistently.

Chris May 4, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Here’s one thing to think about: all 5 of Granderson’s homeruns are solo shots. The bottom of the order hitters, particularly Jacque Jones tiny little bat, are not getting on base. Sheffield is getting on base but is not driving in runs, as of yet.

I love the idea of moving Granderson to 3rd in the order. I hope they do it.

Vince in MN May 4, 2008 at 8:53 pm

I’m not second guessing Leyland on the need to pull Rogers. Kenny was nearing 100 pitches and his command was starting to fall off, so it may well have been that he was running out of gas. That said, shouldn’t this have been anticipated, and therefore shouldn’t Miner and Seay been been getting ready at the START of the inning, rather than having them have to hurry up? This is what happened on Friday when Lopez blew up. Because there was nobody warming up when he clearly didn’t have it, Bautista was forced to warm up in a hurry to come in and put out the fire. You have to wonder if this didn’t have something to do with Bautista’s injury the following inning. I don’t care what kind of atheletes these guys are, I don’t think you can expect them to jump up and throw well at the drop of a hat. 95MPH and a cold arm seems like a prescription for disaster to me.

Mike in E.L. May 4, 2008 at 9:25 pm

Darn I was hoping that the drastic move would be putting my boy Clete Thomas at the 3 spot!

Jeff May 4, 2008 at 9:41 pm

Bat him ninth and hope he bats .250.

Inge’s effectiveness is less based on his BA and more based on his pitch selectivity. When he is selective, he takes enough walks and sees enough pitches to drive the ball, so his OBP is tolerable and his ISO is good. When he doesn’t, he starts putting up a sub-.700 OPS.

Dave BW May 4, 2008 at 10:01 pm

Welcome to the Inge fan club, Stephen! Ah, how the tables have turned!

ScottyD May 4, 2008 at 10:20 pm

The Tigers have two fatal flaws at this point …. poor defense and mediocre pitching. The biggest problem is that Leyland has three defensive liabilities in Guillen, Miggy and Sheff. At least two of them half to be in the field …. or maybe not.

I love Guillen. He’s one of my favorite Tigers of all time, and I’ve followed the team for more than 30 years. But he can not play Third Base. If he’s going to be in the field at all, it has to be First Base.

Secondly, Miggy may be the single worst defensive player I’ve ever seen. If Inge is Superman as far as playing a lot of positions and playing them well, Miggy is Bizzaro in that he plays many positions poorly. This is a large problem given his age and the huge contract. Perhaps he could become a semi-adequate First baseman. But not now. He’s never played there, and it shows. He’s hurting us a lot more than he’s helping. I would either DH him full time or split time in LF.

As for Grandy, I’ve been saying since last winter he should bat third. He does everything you want someone to do in that spot, and should get even better over the next few years. With all of that said, here’s what I would do:

Shef DH
Polanco 2B
Granderson CF
Cabrerra LF
Maggs RF
Guillen 1B
Renteria SS
Pudge C
Inge 3B

Kyle J May 5, 2008 at 8:55 am

The more I think about it, the more the Guillen-Cabrera position switch bothers me. It’s not so much the switch itself, as the way it was explained. Leyland simply said, “It makes us a better team” without offering any concrete rationale. Now he’s backed into a corner if Guillen can’t play 3rd–and it certainly appears he can’t.

One thing about moving Granderson out of the lead-off slot: You limit his ability to stretch singles into doubles and doubles into triples. (Add this to the list of what JJ brings to the team–he doesn’t clog up the bases before Granderson comes to bat.)

Kathy May 5, 2008 at 8:57 am

I thought Carlos would be perfectly fine at 1st even after the rough start. He was great last year and maybe just needed to get warmed up. I think he would have stayed at 1st except they had to move Miggy, which made alot of sense. They talk about patience but don’t give the players much imo. Maybe put Sheff in LF, if he gets hurt, put him on the DL……..finally. Raburn can play infield and outfield, so can Thames and Inge. Ramon is great (you know, I wonder if he could play 3rd?)

Kathy May 5, 2008 at 9:24 am

Oh, and I think Sheff leading off is a great idea. At least he can’t hit into a DP. If he does get on base, we’ve got ourselves a great baserunner.

scotsw May 5, 2008 at 9:40 am

All these comments give us all a lot to think about. I think that it’s gotten to the point that Leyland & Co. may have to face facts about third base. Too many innings have been stretched because of bad defense there. If Guillen or Cabrera had proven to be adequate there, their bats would more than make up for the drop-off from Inge’s catlike quickness there. But they haven’t been adequate, and the upgrade to Inge is looking more and more tempting. But if you play him, you have to let him bat. If only he showed more plate discipline, he’d be perfectly acceptable as a .260-hitting corner-bagger with a bit of power. But hitting .230 with all those K’s, he’s a killer.

So Inge to 3rd, batting 9th, but where do you put everyone else. Cabrera looks fine at first — still learning, but certainly coming along. That leaves this question:

Can Sheffield play left?

Why the hell not?

scotsw May 5, 2008 at 9:44 am

P.S.: Before you say “his shoulders”…

How many times a game does the left fielder have to make a big throw? Once, on average? Most of the job is running and catching, or scooping up singles and tossing them back in. I have no doubt that Sheff can cover more territory than Jacque Jones. When one goes to the track, they can have him hit a deep cut-off guy, so he doesn’t risk blowing out the shoulder. Maybe they lose a base here and there, but I don’t think it will be too costly. And Jacque Jones has cost us plenty as-is.

Ryan in Brooklyn May 5, 2008 at 9:58 am

I think Sheffield to LF would be a fantastic idea. Let Guillen/Cabrera/Sheffield rotate DH. Use Inge at 3rd. When either Guillen or Cabrera get a day off, you DH Sheff and let Thames, Jones, Rayburn or whoever play left.

As I’m writing this post, it’s dawning on me how much of a liability Jacque Jones is to this team. And not just because he’s hitting terribly. He’s also a “veteran” and it definitely seems that Leyland treats veterans with kid gloves. They send Clete Thomas down without a second thought. They started Rayburn in Toledo without a thought. But they won’t bench a vet when he’s spent the first month of the season in a giant funk and isn’t showing many signs that he’s coming out of it.

It’s time to stop coddling Mr. Jones and start fielding the best lineup possible.

Chris May 5, 2008 at 10:55 am

Three things that have to happen:

1) Granderson has to move to 3rd in the order. We are wasting much of his extrabase power by not having men on base for him to drive in.

2) Guillen can’t field, PERIOD! Sheffield’s liability in LF is much less significant than Guillen’s hack job/ game costing fielding.

3) Jacque Jones either has to start hitting or he has to be released.

4) Inge should be in as the everyday 3rd baseman. We need to improve infield defense as much as possible and just live with his often crappy bat.

So yes, given these factors, they should platoon Shef in LF, take Guillen’s glove away, put Inge at 3rd and make the batting order shift.

Ryan in Brooklyn May 5, 2008 at 11:21 am

Here’s the thing with JJ. He’s basically hitting as bad (or maybe even worse) than Inge did last year. We can’t afford more than one black hole in the lineup. I think most people here would rather let Inge be that blackhole, because at least he makes up for some of it with his glove. Jones isn’t doing anything in left that about four other people could do just as well (or at least only marginally worse).

tiff May 5, 2008 at 11:39 am

Jacque Jones reminds me of C-Mo last year, and it took until, what, August, before they did something about him?

I don’t think JJ is going anywhere. I think Leyland has a respect issue with veterans, as in they’ve deserved to play for being pro for so long. I’m all for respect but not at the sake of putting the best team on the field.

I also think Miggy has been fine at first base since the move. Guillen at third has unfortunately not been so fine. He looks all out of sorts there. Guillen DH seems the logical choice, but we’ll see if that’s “drastic.”

What about Renteria leading off?

Andre May 5, 2008 at 11:41 am

scotsw -

“But hitting .230 with all those K’s, he’s a killer.”

If the Tigers had an average lineup I would agree more with this point. The problem is that they have a killer lineup and I don’t think that he hurts them as much as some people would have you think.

Inge’s OBP was higher than Pudge’s last year and his OPS was only slightly less. We give Pudge a huge pass (or it seems we have recently) for his 9 BB/96 Ks last year, because he’s one of the “best defensive catchers” in the game. Lets apply some of this logic to Inge.

I do agree with you and others who think that JJ needs to go. The cubs are eating a lot of his salary, which I think when combined with Leyland’s veteran handling, has allowed the organization to rationalize his continued presence.

I wouldn’t mind the losses necessarily either…if they were of the 12-10 variety. A lineup with Grandy, Maggs, Miggs, Rents, et al should be able to overcome 2-3 Inges.

Eric Cioe May 5, 2008 at 11:47 am

Can Sheffield reinvent himself as a leadoff-hitting left fielder at age 39? That would solve a lot of problems – Guillen could DH, Granderson could make use of his power in the 3 hole, Jones would be out of the lineup more often, and it isn’t like Leyland would be batting Sheffield 8th.

Andre May 5, 2008 at 11:59 am

I know Sheffield can steal…but I thought the point of moving Granderson lower in the lineup was to take advantage of his power. I’m assuming Sheff gets healthy at some point, so now we have another leadoff power hitter who can steal bases? What about Renteria leading off instead of batting 7-8th?

Mark in Chicago May 5, 2008 at 12:17 pm

How about the following:

Polanco 2b
Renteria ss
Granderson cf
Ordonez rf
Cabrera 1b
Sheffield lf
Guillen dh
Rodriguez c
Inge 3b

I think this is best lineup we can run out there, even though it’s terribly right-handed. IMO, the only reason Jones is in the lineup most days is because he’s another lefty bat. But screw that, we need results.

Sean C. in Illinois May 5, 2008 at 12:58 pm

I go away for a few days and come back to the Tigers having been swept – badly – by the Twins. Ouch.

Is the Tigers request line open?

I was so wrong about Inge vs. Guillen. Actually, I was wrong to try to rationalize on behalf of the Tigers. Please put Inge back at 3B-DNH (designated non-hitter), and move Guillen to DH full-time. Please release DNH Jacque Jones. Let Sheffield and Thames split LF, which will allow Sheffield to get injured for the last time and retire gracefully. Please never sit Granderson against lefties again. Please never bat Rodriguez leadoff again. Or anywhere but 9th. Please stop trying to make Miner into a reliever – let him start in Toledo. You’ll need him next year, if only to trade. Try not to make the same mistake with Galarraga. Give up on Bautista now.

Granderson batting 3rd and Sheffield leadoff is an intriguing idea. But how many times over the course of the season do you want Sheffield and not Granderson getting that extra AB late in the game? Zero, I’d say. I also think the leadoff man needs to be a little more durable.

What will it take to wake this underperforming team up? Firing Leyland to shame them into it? Do I have to follow each game online (they’re 2-0 when I do, 12-18 when I don’t)? Is it all on me now?

T Smith May 5, 2008 at 12:59 pm

On Inge:

Until Inge is traded, he should be used as a late-inning replacement at third (maybe as soon as the 6th) when we have the lead. It’s a no-brainer — Tigers don’t need to lean on his bat as much, but do need the defense.

When we need to rally and come from behind, it’s not so simple as just saying, “..we gotta a killer lineup, we can afford one black hole in the lineup…” It doesn’t matter how good everybody else is hitting if you have a guy in the lineup who denies the hot bat(s) to come to the plate in the first place. If your “black hole” is continually ending innings, killing rallies, notching up Ks and not putting the ball in play in critical 1 out situations, etc., it kills the flow. And until we address the JJ issue, there would be two black holes in the lineup, and probably right next to each other in the lineup. Nothing would make me shudder more than a bases loaded, one out situation, with JJ on deck and Inge in the hole (unless we have an 8-2 lead already).

On Jones:

Interesting to see how long we tolarate JJ. He even winces like Monroe did when he continually craps out at bat. If we can somehow figure out how to replace his bat with something more productive, and I mean IMMEDIATELY, I’d be more inclined at seeing Inge take 3rd base — however it goes down.

JL will probably bat Sheff leadoff. It will accomplish two things: it will take advantage of his OBP and give him some time to work out of the funk and refind his power (if he’s going to do so at all) without bruising his ego. It also gives him the benefit of the doubt — and deservedly so. If he doesn’t find his power by the summer, we’ll probably see another change altogether. But at least this gives Sheff the chance to find his stroke without writing him off too quickly.

I know coddling Sheff is the last thing anyone wants to hear (myself included) but that’s probably just how they’re gonna handle it.

Sheff – LF
Polanco
Grandy
Maggs
Cabrera
Guillen – DH
Renteria
Pudge
Inge

is a lineup I could live with

stephen May 5, 2008 at 1:17 pm

These lineups with Inge ninth all sound promising. Now if we could just trade Maybin for a stopper and a set-up man…

Craig M May 5, 2008 at 1:23 pm

Thank you Chris and Sean C. in Illinois. How much more slack does J.Jones get? Yeah, maybe the heart of the order hasn’t been producing consistently, but this guy hasn’t produced at all. Send him on his way à la Jose Mesa.

Anyone know what happened to Nate Cornejo?

Andre May 5, 2008 at 1:33 pm

T smith -

“if your “black hole” is continually ending innings, killing rallies, notching up Ks…”

I’m only going to use part of your quote but here goes anyways. The way I see it, Inge would end more opponent innings and rallies with his defense (Twinkies scored 4 yesterday after Guillen failed to end their inning on their way to rallying past the Tigers).

Yeah, Inge strikes out a lot. While this isn’t as good as hitting, its not as bad as GIDP…and we’ve been doing a lot of that. This lineup finds a way to blackout just fine without Inge in the line up.

It seems to me that defense relies on fielding and pitching for good results whereas offense is more one-dimensional (although you can probably break it down into speed, power, etc…). So if we’re having problems on offense (seemingly regardless of Inge) and defense (seemingly from an absence of Inge) then the question of Inge at 3B seems like a lay up. He’s not ideal, but considering the options, he’s the best the Tigers have.

Tony May 5, 2008 at 1:58 pm

OK here’s what I am hoping for:
Sheffield to the DL (unlikely, but I can hope)
Jones DFA (no arm, no speed, no bat, no use)
Call up Sardihna(sp?)/Wilson as b/u C and Larish or Clete

Line-up:
1. Renteria (SS)
2. Polanco (2B)
3. Granderson (CF)
4. Magglio (RF)
5. Miggy (1B)
6. Guillen (DH)
7. Thames (LF)
8. Pudge (C)
9. Inge (3B)

Bench: Raburn, Santiago, Sardinha/Wilson, Larish/Thomas

Sean C. in Illinois May 5, 2008 at 2:00 pm

Andre – Renteria leading off sounds OK to me. I wonder what his history there, if any, has been. But where do you then put Sheffield if/when he’s in the lineup? #7? Who’s gonna pitch to him with what’s left coming up? How much good will his walks do then? (Well… how much good do they do now, you might ask.)

Sean C. in Illinois May 5, 2008 at 2:09 pm

But (as I meant to add) the batting order means a lot less to me than getting the deadwood out of it sooner than later. That means Jones and – maybe – Sheffield.

I would rather see Ramon Santiago playing 3B and batting cleanup than have Jacque Jones on this team at all.

Too bad Cabrera and Guillen can’t play 3B at the same time. Can’t they train the pitchers to cover first? Would the opponents agree to play with a “ghost man” at first for the Tigers? I mean, if the throw over there was decent, you’d say Mr. Ghost caught it.

Andre May 5, 2008 at 2:09 pm

I should probably stick my neck out there with a lineup:

Rentaria
Polanco
Cabrera
Granderson
Sheffield LF
Ordonez
Rodriguez
Inge 3B
Guillen DH

Totally unorthodox I know, but maybe worth seeing how teams would handle the fact that Ordonez doesn’t seem as protected. I look at it kind of like a dare. I’m batting Pudge ahead of Inge because he’s not as likely to take a walk and create a GIDP situation for Inge. If they both K-out there’s always Guillen to go long. Thoughts?

cib May 5, 2008 at 2:14 pm

Sean C, I like your comments.

Stephen – what can I say, thanks for the laugh, I need it these days.

T Smith May 5, 2008 at 2:30 pm

There is also the element of continually yanking Guillen’s chain. You ask a guy to move from SS to 1st to accomodate the team, then to 3rd two weeks later, then you’re gonna ask him two weeks after this to be your everyday DH? Just because of a bad play? This team is looking more and more nuerotic by the day.

I’m sure he’d do it — and he’s a class act and probably would do it without complaint — but you also don’t want one of your best offensive guys and a team leader to suddenly lose heart because the organization is continually shuffling him around until the team finds its groove.

Andre:

I like Inge at 3rd — from the sixth inning on when we have the lead… if they went with this formula, the Twinkies would not have plated those 4 runs and everybody would be happy. I think it’s also safe to say the Guillen play at third is probably the worst-case scenario/least likely error we could possibly see, i.e. resulting in four unearned runs that cost the Tigers the game. Most of the time Guillen turns the plays his way –some of the time he commits errors that are not so costly (certainly not costing of the game) — and a time or two he blows it completely for the team, like he did yesterday. Going by your logic, can you honestly give Inge the same ratio of utter game-defining success/failure to the team as a full time offensive component? If I were to say most of Inge’s Ks aren’t that costly, but a time or two they blew it completely for the team, I’d be more apt to buy your argument. And I also know it’s impossible to calculate how each at-bat affects the end result of a game, or if going with a more productive hitter would affect the end result of the same game, but I can say there are so many times I can recall when the Tigers lost by a run or two when they could have earlier taken a lead or blew a game wide open but failed to do so because of an Inge K — and with much more frequency than I can say I’ve seen a bad defensive play do the same.

For example, the six run 1st hinged on a key hit from Guillen right in the middle of a rally. A K there instead of a two run RBI single could have easily changed the complexion of a six run inning to a 2 run inning. It’s hypothetical, admittedly, but does serve to provide an example.

All said, I do agree that Inge should play third, preferably after the Tigers have plated their six runs.

Ryan in Brooklyn May 5, 2008 at 2:34 pm

Sean – as kids we always used to play that pitcher’s hand was out for first base. Maybe we can lobby MLB to adopt this rule as mercy to our struggling infield “D”.

Andre May 5, 2008 at 2:40 pm

T –

I hear what your saying, if this was last year 90% of my complaints would have been Inge/Pudge related. My point is that if the heart of this offense was living up to expectations we’re looking at enough runs produced to cover up for Inge. In the mean time we’re seeing a break down defensively. Guillen @ 3B isn’t 100% to blame for the Tigers woes (i thought about adding more symbols to that sentence, but passed) but addressing the issue at 3rd seems to be the simplest (not easiest). Maybe your idea of a relatively early defensive substitution would work and I agree with you about continuously moving Guillen. To be honest I hadn’t thought about that, good point.

Andre May 5, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Also, what gives? I come up with a groundbreakingly original lineup and no feedback?

Tbone May 5, 2008 at 3:00 pm

Like Sean C., I skip town for a weekend and the team tanks.

I don’t care which way you triangulate the batting order, it does nothing to help the starters pitch better. Pitching was the biggest question coming into this season and will be the biggest reason if they fail to make the playoffs.

It’s hard to fault the bullpen at this point, they have been as good as can be expected and sometimes better.

Meanwhile, we are a whopping 4-15 against the Division so far yet somehow remain only 3 games back. The offense isn’t the problem. We have scored 34 more runs than the Twins this season!

JL can go drastic on the lineup all day long but it will not address the shocking lack of quality starts and the resulting taxation on a marginally talented pen.

Teymour May 5, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Andre, doesn’t work. Why would you put one of your best hitters in the 9 hole. Also, why would you bat the AL batting champ and second place MVP at in the six hole. Also, why would you put a 20 HR Curtis in clean up.

I’m not sure how to fix this but I agree with the Sheff to LF and Guillen to DH, Inge to 3rd.

Shef
Polanco
Curtis
Miggy
Mags
Guillen
Renteria
Pudge
Inge

T Smith May 5, 2008 at 3:07 pm

Andre –

As far as your lineup goes, I’ve seen Leyland come up with some pretty funky lineups, too, so you’re in good company.

I’m okay with Renteria leading off, but I personally want to see Ordonez higher in the order, to get as many a bats as possible, and to clean up on runners in front as much as possible. Also, in that lineup, I’d pitch around Maggs almost every time to get to Pudge. Good for OBP, bad for hitting the ball in the gap. Ditto for Guillen. With that lineup, you’d reduce Guillen’s RBI by 35 – 40 over the course of a year — and hope the others pick those runs up somewhere.

Just my two cents… since you asked.

Tbone May 5, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Oops – make that 4-12 against the Division. Either way, that number is going to have to get better…

Andre May 5, 2008 at 3:36 pm

hmm…taking some points into consideration:

Rentaria
Polanco
Cabrera
Granderson
Ordonez
Sheffield LF
Inge 3B
Guillen DH
Pudge

the black holes (pudge and inge) are separated, maggs is protected. sooner or later they have to pitch to somebody: if you walk sheff with less than 2 outs to get inge you’re likely going to face guillen with at least one on. somebody has to bat clean up, but i don’t have a prob flipping miggy and grandy.

Teymour May 5, 2008 at 3:38 pm

JJ gone, just released

Andre May 5, 2008 at 3:41 pm

teymore i swear if you’re teasing us…i’ll find you.

jk. but seriously you better be right :)

Chris May 5, 2008 at 3:41 pm

It looks like our big-ol’ left handed easy-out, Jacque Jones, has been designated for assignment. I wish he would have worked out by coming close to matching his career numbers, but there was no way this team could have tollerated his worthless at-bats.

Let’s see what other changes to the lineup are to be done.

Neal in San Diego May 5, 2008 at 3:44 pm

JJ was a mistake. I wish I were wrong, but he didn’t show anything last year, and nothing yet this year. I think you bite the bullet and let him go.
I saw the article on Baseball Musings about switching Bonds out of the lead off spot, I think that worked out okay, and that was pre-roids Barry. I think he’s available to play in left. Give him a lawn chair and let him sit and play. Why would you switch Guillen to lead off? Wouldn’t his HR’s then become solo shots like Granderson’s were?

So here it is to jump on:

1. Polanco
2. Guilen
3. Granderson
4. Ordonez
5. Bonds
6. Cabera
7. Sheffield
8. Pudge
9. Renteria

Hopefully Guillen can actually play third base. But Leyland seems to like to shift guys around day to day. You could split time for Sheff and Bonds in Left, with Thames thown in as well. This would also protect from Sheff going down again.
Who knows?

Andre May 5, 2008 at 3:44 pm

where are you guys getting your updates?

greg May 5, 2008 at 3:45 pm

Hmmm…..dramatic eh?….

…what’s the most shocking, plausible lineup that we’d see?

Moving Polanco out of the 2 hole would be surprising…..

I wonder if we’ll see all the ‘speedsters’ at the top?

Sheffields the 2nd best baserunner on the team.

Sheffield
Guillen
Granderson
Maggs
Miggy
Renteria
7-9 – take your pick
—-
Not saying it will happen, or that it would be a good one, but it would move all the speed to the top, with guys that get on at a decent clip, yet preserve your power hitters in 4-5 and if they pitch around them you’ve got good contact hitters behind them, so you could employ Hit and Runs with Renteria and Polanco with Maggs/Miggy on base.

Sort of restating Billfers initial thought and expounding on it a little. Makes sense in that Sheff only has 5 RBI’s(i think), yet, he could steal 30 bases if he wanted to, and his ego doesn’t take a hit, because he’s moving UP to help the team.

Neal in SD May 5, 2008 at 3:48 pm

I wrote about releasing JJ before I had heard or read the news. Seems right.

Andre May 5, 2008 at 3:53 pm
Teymour May 5, 2008 at 4:09 pm

Curtis
Polanco
Guillen
Mags
Miggy
Sheff
Renteria
Matt Joyce
Pudge

Maybe flip flop Joyce and Pudge

Dave T. May 5, 2008 at 4:18 pm

Why did they release JJ? Seems like a pretty short leash, what about all this talk about proven track records? Why are they keeping Sheff?

cib May 5, 2008 at 4:21 pm

While it is the right thing to do for our team, I always feel kind of sad for the player who can’t do the job anymore. I am of course way too emotional about all aspects of baseball but I’m just wired that way.

Scott May 5, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Jones was released because he is washed up…. not that hard to see.

Andre May 5, 2008 at 4:25 pm

Are they bringing Joyce up to the 25 man roster or the 40? I’m gonna wait and see what Leyland ends up doing, but I would have thought if they were gonna bring a minor league outfielder up it would have been C Thomas. Before it sounds like I’m second guessing what hasn’t happened yet, I would like to say I’m happy they’re shaking things up.

Dave –

They’re keeping Sheff because in his case there’s hope of him overcoming injury and producing. JJ wasn’t hurt and was still awful.

Mark in Chicago May 5, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Sadly, we never really got to see JJ fire the ball into the ground from the leftfield corner as he tried to nail that runner at third with a 44-hopper. Alas, we shall make do.

Interesting, I think, that they called up Matt Joyce and not Clete Thomas.

I presume this means Thames will get the bulk of the ABs in left, which is fine except for making us almost entirely a right-handed lineup. I’m of the thinking that LH/RH splits are a little overrated, but it’s always nice to have some balance.

I’m a little miffed with DD on some of these trades, though. I certainly don’t expect every trade to work out, and we didn’t give up anything of value for Jones (Omar Infante, if memory serves), but it was a waste of resources, time and we got very little return on it. It feels like this was a rushed trade to get a lefty bat in the lineup, and the due diligence just wasn’t there. I’m not sure what the alternatives were, but this one never felt like a good fit.

Brenden May 5, 2008 at 4:32 pm

I agree with Andre. Sheffield is at least starting to hit now, Jones was just awful, an almost immediate when he came up to bat. And I second that question, will Matt Joyce be the starter in left tonight, or what is there plan? Not much news about it yet.

Brenden May 5, 2008 at 4:35 pm

Spoke too soon. Apparently Sheffield is now in left at least a few times a week. His shoulder must be feeling better because wasn’t there something about his shoulder that he could only swing a bat and not throw a ball? Seems a little troublesome to me…

cib May 5, 2008 at 4:55 pm

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080505/SPORTS02/80505056

I don’t get a warm and fuzzy feeling from this. Hope they prove me wrong.

Sean C. in Illinois May 5, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Tbone – That’s OK, you’re just adding in the next time we get swept by a team in our division. Not far from a foregone conclusion so far. Also… somehow the hitting still worries me more than the pitching. Maybe because the hitting has been so much farther below my expectations.

cib – Thank you.

Ryan in Brooklyn – Pitcher’s hand! That’s the rule I was looking for – now I remember. Thanks.

T Smith – Your reasoning on the Inge/3B situation is exactly what I came up with, playing devil’s advocate for the Tigers. Now I’m prepared to take Inge in the lineup every day, provided Jones is gone.

Andre – I like to think of radical lineups, too. It’s fun. But – if Tiger hitters would produce consistently just based on past performance, you could bat Inge 9th (I’m not even counting Jones anymore) and pull the rest of the order out of a hat day to day. Not enough guys are getting it done consistently now, and they know it. A recent quote from Carlos Guillen summed it up nicely. Hot and cold. Off and on. They score a bunch early in a game and then go to sleep. That’s good for about 81-81. Maybe.

It’s at odds with my secret desire to see Marcus Thames get left field to himself and carry the team to a pennant with the 50-home run season we all knew he had in him (50 HR, 70 RBI, hehe)… but I admit that I’d also really like to see Sheffield get a shot at leadoff. Both Sheffield reinventing himself (as someone else put it so well) and Inge winning his starting job back against all odds (and playing well enough to deserve it) would be nice touches on a winning season. A pennant season.

beejeez May 6, 2008 at 7:34 pm

I plugged in the optimum-lineup tool Bilfer linked to with what I expected to be realistic 2008 stats for each of the Tiger regulars — not peak seasons, but reasonable stats based on past performance and in no cases as good as their 2007 stats. I took the results with a grain of salt, because they don’t take speed into account, but I got some interesting findings.
The tool recommended Guillen for the leadoff spot, Mags at No. 2, then Sheff (I gave Sheff 10 points more OBP and 50 points more slugging than he has now, which I think is reasonably conservative), Grandy and Cabrera.
Impressions: I think Guillen makes an intriguing leadoff guy, especially vs. righthanders. He’d put pressure on the pitcher right away matchup-wise, and he’s a good baserunner. Polanco was way back in the lineup and I think that’s right — I’m sure he’ll hit close to .300, but he doesn’t walk much and actually Polly doesn’t have good speed anyway. Maybe it would make sense to get Mags as many ABs as possible. The tool shows Leyland wasn’t insane to keep Sheff at No. 3 so long, and that if he returns to anything close to his pre-injury 2007 form he’s OK there. Grandy at No. 4 might work surprisingly well because he won’t hit a lot of double play balls and he’ll see good pitches with Miggy coming up next.
Now if I were doing it, I’d think about Guillen-Sheff-Maggs-Grandy-Cabrera, which would give you two good baserunners at the top of the lineup. The power drops off after those 5 guys, but that would happen anyway, really. A contact hitter like Polly might actually be good at No. 6 or 7, considering the likelihood of extra base hits from Grandy & Cabrera.
If Jimbo really wants to try a real “radical” lineup change, maybe he should try something along these lines.

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