Thoughts on Jones and the lineup shuffle

by billfer on May 5, 2008 · 45 comments

in 2008 Season,Managing & Strategy,Roster Management

Isn’t it something that we waited and waited to get the anticipated lineup together. First Granderson was injured, and then Sheffield and Polanco. And then everyone was set to come back and Carlos Guillen missed a couple games. Finally, on April 27th the 1000 run lineup took the field. And 8 days later on May 8th it’s been altered because it just wasn’t working. In that 8 day span was an off day and a sweep of the Yankees. Part of me can’t help but think it’s a little bit of an overreaction.

Now the Jacque Jones dismissal is a smart move and I applaud the relative swiftness of it. The Tigers gave him a month to do something, and it just didn’t happen. And this was with Jones facing almost exclusively right handed pitching. He only had 4 plate appearances against lefties, all of which result in strikeouts. His arm was as bad as advertised and Leyland respected his defense so little that he was always lifted for Ryan Raburn in late innings. If you can’t play defense and you can’t hit and you’re track record is marginal there is little to contribute and little reason to expect it to change. Jones amassed 5 line drives in his very brief Tigers career.

As for the “drastic” lineup move I hardly consider the swap of Carlos Guillen and Gary Sheffield to be drastic. The more drastic move is Gary Sheffield assuming left field duties. Sheffield had surgery to repair a torn labrum which you’d think would inhibit his throwing ability. But even odder is that the DH rotation will be between Sheffield and Ordonez.

Ordonez is an average fielder, and hardly a liability. There is talk about his bad knees, but in actuality he has 1 surgically repaired knee. The injury hasn’t appeared to be chronic and he isn’t as close to DH-dome as many make him out to be. While the semi-rest is probably a good thing, it does nothing to help the infield defense. An area of concern that could be remedied by rotating DH duties to Carlos Guillen (who does have bad knees) and Miguel Cabrera.

So like the Guillen-Cabrera switch, this realignment seems to be a reactionary move that solves little. The move was at Sheffield’s request because he thinks he can focus better by playing the field. That may be the case, but if he’s not healthy the focus part won’t make a big difference. Like Lee, I’m skeptical that it will result in an increase in his numbers.

 
 

{ 45 comments }

David G. May 5, 2008 at 11:22 pm

The lack of polished hitting is absolutely absurd at this point. And the chief suspects are Senors Ordonez, Cabrera, and Renteria. Pudge is done, that’s clear.

billfer May 5, 2008 at 11:30 pm

Going into tonight Ordonez was hitting 311/390/529 and his career numbers are 312/370/522. What exactly were you expecting from him? He’s actually been one of the better hitters on the team hitting the ball consistently well. The last couple games in Minnesota he hit line drives to right field that were simply at somebody.

Cabrera does need to do more.

greg May 5, 2008 at 11:54 pm

My 2 cents.

I like some of these moves. Jones gone, good. Nothing personal, I wish him well, but he just increases your chance of losing way too much. Sheffield in LF…excellent. Now we just need to put Guillen at DH and Inge at 3B. If this is a precursor of getting Guillen out of the field, Hallelujah!

Major props to Guillen tonight for the excellent AB running up the pitch count and drawing a walk, good to see. Not just getting a walk, but the WAY he grinded out that AB, fouling off the strikes that were low % to get a hit, and waiting for his pitch, or a walk, whichever came first.

Tonight….it was somewhat disappointing, as most losses are. It wasn’t perfect, a handful of bad AB’s in there. But, they had 10 BB, that alone is encouraging, even if Dice-K always walks guys, its great to see this amount of patience displayed against ANYONE. Now, there were still some times when they could have displayed MORE patience tonight, but overall, I’m pleased with them getting on base.

Also, I thought they put up a fight, rallied for a couple runs. But expecting 3 Runs against Papelbon is a tall order. He is probably THE BEST closer in the game.

The frustrating thing is not tonight, its when they sleepwalk, time and time again, against mediocre to below average pitching(Brian Bass) and/or put it on ‘cruise control’ because they’re up 6 runs. You need to beat the mediocre teams(ie the Twins), and not put yourself in a position in which you HAVE to beat the best(Boston) just to stay in the race.

So I like the moves. As the move of keeping the status quo would have been the worst ‘move’ Leyland could have made.

Will it help? Maybe, maybe not, but it certainly can’t hurt. I see upside and no downside here.

Is there a better CF in baseball than Curtis Granderson?…….I think not.

charlie May 6, 2008 at 12:41 am

i’m really starting to feel like we are becoming a knee jerk managed team. i’m glad jones is gone because as we all know it wasn’t working. i am surprised the tigers threw $3 million at him over and above the $2 million the cubs were paying.

all the position changing has really done nothing except show that we didn’t think all this out before the season started. inge should play at third simply because it is the best option we have.

somebody above said pudge is done and i think that is correct. perhaps we should take one of our plethora of DH’s and trade him for a catcher that can play.

i know pitching is always the wild card on any team but really someone other than chuck hernandez needs to take a long look at this group and get them some help. most of our starters weren’t even stretched out properly before the season started.

it simply isn’t enough to open your pocketbook and pay huge sums of money without some logical planning being done…the yankees have proved that over and over. this season so full of promise doesn’t have to be a complete write off but we need to see some management moves that make more sense…reactionary management simply does not put any team/business in a position to be successful. it is our luck that no one seems ready to take over the central at this point however it is unfortunate that whoever leads the division is usually the team that played us last.

Vince in MN May 6, 2008 at 12:46 am

Don’t forget the “drastic” shift of Pudge to no. 9. But I am sure this is only temporary. The next LH we see, I expect him to be right back in the leadoff spot, which is probably classified as “creative/flexible” in JL’s book of strategy.

Although to be fair, all this lineup shifting may not make much difference. This lineup is going to live/die by the long ball/extra base hit – it’s a strictly station to station program (e.g. tonight’s 10BB + 5 hts =3 runs). Manufacturing runs (i.e. Twins) just ain’t gonna happen – they simply can’t switch to another plan (small ball) when the circumstances warrant it (like right now). The one-dimentional offense is looking more like a weakness rather than the strength we all expected.

Mike R May 6, 2008 at 12:53 am

Jim Leyland making another move that does not better the Detroit Tigers on the field? Yawn. Bored. Next act, please.

Chris May 6, 2008 at 2:59 am

Reshuffle all deck chairs you want on this here Titanic. Bottom line is that this team sucks.

Sean C. in Illinois May 6, 2008 at 3:03 am

I’m underwhelmed by the “drastic” lineup change. This season just keep getting weirder. I had the thought today that maybe Leyland manages best when there’s nothing to lose. He took a team still under construction to the World Series. (And if the the opponent had been the Mets or at least a team not managed by Jim’s buddy, I say the Tigers would have won it all.) Now the team is built. And the wheels are coming off even earlier than last year. I like Jim Leyland. But I’m afraid that by the end of the month, we’ll all be calling for his head.

scotsw May 6, 2008 at 9:11 am

There’s way too much wailing and gnashing of teeth. None of these were “knee-jerk” moves. Cabrera has looked fine at first. Guillen started a little creaky at third, but I don’t doubt at all that he has the skills to play the hot corner. It will take them both a little time to settle in and learn the details. It is only fair to give them some time. Guillen made a really nice charge-and-throw last night.

I predicted the move of Sheffield to left because the Sheff has been saying since Day 1 last year that he prefers to be involved in the game. And it was clear as day that after almost 6 weeks, Jacque Jones offered nothing to this team. (Sorry, Jacque — good luck elsewhere). Leyland likes Thames (and Marcus showed why last night, with a great first-pitch liner into left), and this will get him more P.T. in left, as well, I think.

The Tigers’ “problem” with personnel is that they have too many DH-style players, as several people here have noted. You can probably handle 3 in an A.L. lineup, and we have as many as 5: Cabrera, Guillen, Ordonez, Thames, Sheffield. If one is at D.H., one’s at first and one’s in the O.F., you need 2 on the bench, or else you have 3 “soft” spots defensively. For the Tigers, unfortunately, that third “soft” spot has been third base. And it kills us all that the solution is sitting in the dugout: Brandon Inge. But Brandon doesn’t want to shorten his swing, so he ain’t gonna start. If he had gotten that into his skull, and would get himself on base, he’d be starting.

With Jones gone, it would seem that the team can afford to put Inge in the lineup. Inge swings a better bat than Jacque, at least, and would lock down the left side of the infield. But while that move theoretically works, the question now is, how happy would Guillen be as a most-of-the-time D.H.? No manager would want to frustrate a star hitter like Guillen by jerking him around too much and giving him that no-confidence vote.

Matt Joyce, I’m sure, is a nice player. He showed hustle last night, and I like hustle. But nobody but nobody thinks that it’s better to have a left-handed Joyce in the lineup than Ordonez, Cabrera or a healthy Sheffield, regardless of who’s pitching. If Inge plays third, either we have 7 rightys in the lineup, or Joyce plays and one of our sluggers sits.

The key is to get this roster of superstars focused on every pitch and every at-bat. The “problem” isn’t effort or skill. It’s execution. The whole team is pressing, again. They showed patience last night, but swings aren’t connecting… I think this team just needs a little fire.

To me, this team lacks an athletic, strong-armed, left-handed outfielder… A role player who brings more of that Granderson-style energy (but not quite the same stats, of course). Someone with some snarl.

Paging Kirk Gibson… Paging Kirk Gibson…

THAT is what we need from Matt Joyce.

Scott May 6, 2008 at 9:31 am

It has been a strange season. I don’t understand how you can sweep the Yankees in New York and then get swept by a mediocre-at-best Minnesota team.

Everyone knew the pitching a defense of this team was going to be questionable. But the inconsistencies in scoring runs makes no sense to me.

By no means am I suggesting that anyone give up on the Tigers for this season. But I do wish Leyland would start looking to the future of this club and building around that …. namely, put Granderson and Cabrerra 3-4 in the lineup and leaving them there …. both should be Tigers for the next decade and they are the two guys that we must build around. Stop catering to the old guys that are going to be gone in a year or two.

In the coming off season, if not sooner, the Tigers must decide who their full-time DH will be – Sheffield or Guillen. Personally, if Sheffield doesn’t start hitting within a few weeks, I would put him on the bench or release him.

To be a long-term contender, the Tigers must fix their defensive problems and get better starting pitching. I don’t see either of those things happening in 2008.

Kathy May 6, 2008 at 9:41 am

Absolutely agree with everything you said, Billfer. I don’t believe the crap about Sheff not cut out to be a DH. If he can’t start hitting soon hopefully, he’ll fall down out in LF with an “injury” and go on the DL. Why they picked up Jones in the first place is a mystery. As much as I hate having to say this, I’d put Inge back at 3rd and let Carlos DH if Carlos continues to get errors. Leyland has already said he would “never” trade his first and second place in the lineup, so there you go. Not much wiggling room.

Kathy May 6, 2008 at 9:52 am

Oh, and like I said a few days ago, ever since Leyland got on Miggy about focusing on his at bats, he hasn’t done much. I say leave the guy alone. They want him to be himself, but when he acts like himself, they want to change him. For 4 years he did just fine being himself. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Eric Cioe May 6, 2008 at 10:14 am

Sheff has started to look really nice at the plate. I could get used to him in left field.

As far as needing to establish a full time DH – why? There are plenty of teams that rotate the DH spot with a lot of success. Rotate it among Guillen, Sheffield, and Magglio. When Guillen sits, Inge plays third. When the others sit, Joyce or Thames plays outfield. I don’t know why one needs a full time DH. Use it to rest veterans.

Angus May 6, 2008 at 10:35 am

I agree that we have to move Curtis down in the lineup. He is the only Tiger who has consistently hit for extra bases in the few times at bats that he has this year as well as last. With Polanco not up to par and Sheffield getting walks, it is placing the #4 and #5 hitter with key hits to score runs. Guillen has watched his average slip about 50 points. While I agree that the starting pitching needs work, this lineup is pressing and just not producing. We need to setup this lineup to win. If that means moving a few of JL’s favorites who cares. This team is underperforming at several levels and needs to move to the top of this division and put a butt whooping on the teams that are struggling in the Central. That is why they went to the WS in 2006. If things do not change by the break, DD better start looking at unloading some of the high priced veterans and look to the future. This team with its current age has a small window of opportunity to go to the WS. Who realistically thinks that we can go the WS next year with Rogers, Sheffield, Pudge, Guillen, Polanco, Ordonez, Renteria, etc. Unfortunately, we gave up a lot of good young players to amass this lineup for really 1 or at a huge stretch 2 years with this set of players. Agree that Miggy and Curtis is the future, but beyond that who do we really have at this point who is proven.

Sean C. in Illinois May 6, 2008 at 10:42 am

scotsw – I think the wailing and gnashing of teeth has been justified. It’s been a poor and very disappointing season so far. The 14-19 hasn’t been a tough luck, hanging in there 14-19. The problem with personnel is that the moves so far during the season haven’t solved the most important problems.

If I were Leyland (and who’s to say I’m not? hehe), Guillen and Sheffield would be on a short leash. Their happiness at being on the field needs to translate into results everywhere – now. I agree with Eric Cioe that a rotating DH suits the Tigers wide range of selections, but I’m afraid Guillen might be done in the field. No one’s happy on a losing team that’s supposed to be winning. Stop making “veteran happiness” a priority.

Sean C. in Illinois May 6, 2008 at 10:55 am

Angus -

Not that there aren’t question marks, but Verlander, Bonderman, and Willis are all proven, above average, and still young. OK, maybe Bonderman is borderline on “proven.” Still, not a bad start for a win now team. And the Tigers aren’t that old. Are they?

Andre May 6, 2008 at 11:02 am

I liked the idea of dropping Granderson in the order when I first heard about it. I get that they want to take advantage of his power, but I like his speed (triples) at leadoff a little better.

Rick G May 6, 2008 at 11:28 am

Side note – I’m going to tonight’s game from Livonia. Can anyone tell me what the traffic into downtown on I-96 is like before a game? How bad is the construction bottleneck? Thanks!

Sean C. in Illinois May 6, 2008 at 11:55 am

Andre – Granderson can still hit triples batting 3rd. He’ll still lead off innings. He’ll still come up with none on. If his leadoff home runs (he’s so good at this) could become 2 or 3 runs instead of one… that would be good. I’d swap some triples for that. If I had to. Which I wouldn’t. I don’t think. Triples yield more with runners on, too.

Andre May 6, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Sean –

I’ve just always thought a leadoff guy was supposed to have speed. I think most people agree that triples are made by speed out of the box. It probably won’t be the case enough to really matter statistically, but I don’t want CG to be slowed down by somebody on first not being able to stretch his run to home.

I think you may be right in the long run though, I’m sure his power will yield more if he’s lower in the order. I’m just wondering who takes over with his kind of speed?

greg May 6, 2008 at 12:10 pm

There is a long track record of people who claim that they’re better when they play in the field instead of just DH. Its been statistically backed up as well. Not that EVERY SINGLE PERSON struggles with it, but some do. Frank Thomas and Jason Giambi immediately come to mind. When Frank was switching back and forth, his splits were pretty pronounced.

I don’t doubt that it effected Sheff last year. The first month or so Sheff attributed the slow start to trying to adjust to DH. Then, he found a routine that he went through, and he claimed AHEAD OF TIME that it would work. It was a routine of doing some exercises, walking in the dugout and some bat exercises, that got him into the ‘flow’ more. Then boom, he put up MVP numbers for 3 months until he got hurt.

So I don’t dismiss it as rubbish necessarily. Although one has to wonder why he can’t do the same routine now as he did last year. So it could be a factor, but I have to be concerned that the health of his shoulder might be a greater factor.

Sean C. in Illinois May 6, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Thinking about what greg said…

Who would be happiest to be a full-time DH? Guess: Cabrera. Who would be best at 3B? Inge. Where does that leave Guillen? First base. Isn’t he better there than at 3B? Is he going to kill himself at 1B? Then he ought to DH and like it. And LF is Sheffield’s last stand. I hope he makes it. My guy Thames is waiting in the wings if he doesn’t. Does anyone know if the Tigers are over .500 this year when Thames plays or even just bats? Sure seems like it. He’s my favorite .250 hitter ever.

This is all Guillen’s fault, really. It all becomes so clear now. Guillen and his knees. I hate that guy.

Andre May 6, 2008 at 12:42 pm

Maybe you didn’t see Guillen grind out what had to be at least a 12 pitch at bat for a walk last night, only to have Maggs and Miggy waste it with two quick outs (Maggs especially striking out on a way-high fastball).

I know Maggs is a good first pitch hitter, but the way he and MCab followed up Guillen’s effort was criminal considering Dice-K could or wouldn’t throw strikes.

I like your other points though.

Sean C. in Illinois May 6, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Andre – I was just kidding about hating Guillen. I thought it was so obvious that I didn’t need any emoticon or ha ha. (Not faulting you for taking it literally, though). Guillen is awesome – what Tiger fan wouldn’t say so? But it really is his fault in a way, this infield mess. More management’s fault, though. Bad assumptions and attempted solutions that caused more problems.

Can’t the Tigers rise to the occasion now, playing a team like the Red Sox? Maybe if they’d move the rest of the games to Fenway they’d get it done.

Andre May 6, 2008 at 1:02 pm

Sean –

I think you’re missing the larger issue here and it has to do with Sheffield. Something needs to change. To begin with he needs to grow a beard or goatee or something. This clean shave look isn’t doing him any good whatsoever. Also, can somebody in the media please create some kind of racial controversy to get him riled up? How has the Detroit media not done this yet? I think they would find it way easier to stir up trouble with Sheff than with Inge.

We can do it, YES WE CAN!

stephen May 6, 2008 at 1:21 pm

Guillen playing third is not the change we have been waiting for.

Sean C. in Illinois May 6, 2008 at 1:29 pm

Andre – Me, miss a larger issue? Never! I agree that Sheffield needs a new look, but my suggestion is outsize, Harry Caray-style eyeglasses with built-in fake nose. It’s been proven both mechanically and statistically that laughing pitchers get hammered when they can find the strike zone at all.

It will be easy to start a racial controversy with Inge. Obviously, he’s been pushed out of an all-Hispanic infield for insidious reasons. Unfortunately, the newly disenfranchised Inge will be unable to translate his most recent bout of “lividity” into consistent hitting. Better idea – rile Sheffield by pulling him from LF late in the game… for Inge.

Andre May 6, 2008 at 1:38 pm

Sean –

I think we both know what we have to do at this point…lets get some press passes.

Sean C. in Illinois May 6, 2008 at 2:01 pm

Andre – Ha! Gosh, I hope none of the Tigers ever read this stuff. I’d be so embarrassed. But I have a hunch that if I were a major league ballplayer, I wouldn’t be spending much time online.

Back to the Tigers for real… I got one wish granted with Jones gone. Do I get two more? The next would be – can you believe it? – that Inge gets 3B back. Get it over with, Jim, cause that’s where it’s headed.

Sean C. in Illinois May 6, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Where is this DH-dome that Billfer mentions? That’s where the Tigers need to play.

Andre May 6, 2008 at 2:12 pm

I hope its heated!

tiff May 6, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Just got back from a walk along the riverfront downtown. This place is littered with Boston fans. Grrr.

Angus May 6, 2008 at 2:47 pm

At this point, I would say that Verlander is proven, although he needs some help with his mechanics. Willis and Bonderman, the jury is still out. There is an outside chance that Bonderman may not pan out. Willis the same. I think we have a lot of guys in our lineup who have two or less seasons, Kenny, Shef, Guillen?, Pudge? (not likely to be here anyway). That leaves us with Curtis, Ordonez, Renteria, Polanco who have probably less than 4 years. Then we have Carbrera and Curtis. The question is do we unload a some of these guys who are underperforming and bring up guys like Joyce, Thomas, Hollimon sooner than later to replace some of these guys?

charlie May 6, 2008 at 2:54 pm

stephen

you are correct.

Sean C. in Illinois May 6, 2008 at 3:05 pm

Angus – By proven, I meant that both Willis and Verlander have put up at least back to back ace years. Proven doesn’t mean guaranteed. Bonderman is paid like he’s proven, but the jury really is out on him, I think.

No way the Tigers are seriously looking to the future – and no further than 2009 at that – this early. That won’t happen until and unless they are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. They mean to win in 2008. They’re just not playing like it. But we can forgive them for relaxing, since they already swept the Fantasy World Paper World Series last winter through the clever strategy of (virtually) showing up, and are probably still tired from all that.

Mark in Chicago May 6, 2008 at 3:55 pm

We are fortunate in that Cleveland is not running away and hiding with the division, and Minny will most certainly not be in the mix come August.

I have no problem releasing Jones, but I’m not sure the “changes” are much more than cosmetic. We don’t catch the ball particularly well, have little team speed, and at this point are a feast/famine offense without any balance. I don’t know what the answer is except that you keep running your best guys out there and wait for the track records to take over. The exception there would be Pudge, who is done as an impact hitter. His defense remains valuable, though.

IMO, Inge needs to be the 3b for this team. The left side of the infield is atrocious and every other ground ball gets through the hole. You can live with his .250 bat and 140 K’s in the lineup if he save us some outs/runs. That means that either Cabrera or Guillen has to DH while the other plays 1b and Sheff plays left. I am perfectly fine using Cabs at first just to get Guillen off the infield. This means that Sheffield is your every day LF, and I don’t know if his body will hold up over 130 games, but they need some more athleticism on the field. It’s like a frigging softball team out there.

Sean C. in Illinois May 6, 2008 at 4:33 pm

Speaking of the left side of the infield, what is Renteria’s particular weakness (range?), and who is the best fielding SS they have? Santiago? Renteria still has to be an upgrade at SS over Guillen last year. Right?

T Smith May 6, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Sean in Illinois:

You hinted earlier that you may be Leyland… After your statement:

“…This is all Guillen’s fault, really. It all becomes so clear now. Guillen and his knees. I hate that guy….”

I’m convinced your actually the Anti-Leyland….

Mark in Chicago May 6, 2008 at 5:20 pm

Sean,

The book on Renteria is that he catches what he gets to, but the range has definitely deteriorated. It’s a step and a dive for the most part. His arm is also in severe decline in strength, but it’s pretty accurate (last night’s throwing error notwithstanding). All things considered, Renteria is probably a slight upgrade over Guillen.

Santiago is probably the best fielding SS on the team, but billfer did some great work illustrating that his defense is somewhat overrated. Strong arm, though. He can’t hit nearly as well as the other two, obviously, so that’s a huge tradeoff that probably isn’t worth making. Ramon should be a late innings defensive replacement, ideally.

Sean C. in Illinois May 6, 2008 at 5:29 pm

T Smith -

I’m glad I’m not Leyland right now. I do smoke, though, and I can even be kind of crusty.

The way this season is going, we’re all the Anti-Leyland. I don’t recall a single comment here along the lines of “Great move, Jim” that wasn’t sarcastic.

Mike R May 6, 2008 at 6:41 pm

I don’t care what any baseball club says, a hitter of Granderson’s skill sets is wasted in the leadoff spot. Grady Sizemore, (when normal…) Alfonso Soriano, Hanley Ramirez, etc etc. I get it. They can run. That’s nice. They also hit for massive power (in addition to a solid OBP like Hanley Ramirez has) and that makes them middle of the order guys first who just happen to possess above average or even elite speed. Can we get them in a spot in the order that utilizes their skill-sets much more effectively like, say, 3rd? If they get on base with a double, they’re more likely to score with 4-5-6 hitting behind them.

I don’t know. I’m just tired of this Jim Leyland act of playing his hunches and being “unorthodox” and not putting the team in the best position to win baseball games. It’s not that difficult to play some percentages and to listen to your “gut” and not put a dude less than a year removed from labrum surgery which makes him even lucky to be able to pick up a bat let alone play defense.

I’m tired of this act. Next manager please.

Tony May 6, 2008 at 8:27 pm

To be honest, I am a little disappointed. I was hoping on Inge being inserted at 3B for two reasons. One, we need to sure up the infield defense which is possibly the worst in the majors. Two, love him or hate him, Inge plays with passion and intensity; and those are two things this team seems to lack. If I’m JL, this is my line-up:

1. Granderson (CF)
2. Polanco (2B)
3. Miggy (1B)
4. Mags (RF)
5. Guillen (DH) (He really reminds me of Edgar Martinez at this point)
6. Renteria (SS)
7. Pudge (C)
8. Sheffield (LF)
9. Inge (3B)

Chris in Nashville May 6, 2008 at 8:58 pm

Man Bilfer, I couldn’t agree more on what you said. I was willing to let Jacque work it out, because I just don’t think you need that much from his bat, but his defense was WAY worse than I remember it being. So, no big loss overall.

But the Sheffield in LF and DH Maggs makes NO SENSE. If you are going to put Sheff in LF, no reason to not put Inge at 3B and Guillen at DH. Makes the infield D MUCH BETTER and rests Guillen’s knees. You lose a LH bat in the order, but does Leyland/Dombrowski REALLY expect Joyce to produce all that much? He had a few good AB’s last night, but I don’t think his LH bat is worth losing the improvement on D.

I’ll take this a step further (pure speculation here), I have a feeling that Leyland is saying to Sheff here…ok, you REALLY have to play outfield everyday to be able to hit? Then here you go. He’ll either get hurt and we lose Sheff or it works out and he starts hitting the ball. We haven’t had Sheff all year and in my opinion have expected too much out of a 41 year old coming off a fairly major surgery. He’s clearly not the player he was. So, if he gets hurt, is it all that big of a loss? Then, Inge has an everyday spot at 3B again, Guillen can be the full time DH and play all over the infield when needed, and platoon Thames/Joyce in LF. Just what I’ve been thinking about since the Jacque Jones move.

scotsw May 7, 2008 at 9:00 am

Reality check.

If Gary Sheffield were a 33-year-old future HOFer, and coming off major shoulder surgery, we’d all be impressed that he was fighting to get back into game shape, trying mightily to contribute to this team, working hard to right this ship. And we wouldn’t even be surprised by his sub-.200 batting average at this point. Give the man a chance to get his groove back — it’s only May 6, for heaven’s sake. David Ortiz is only hitting .225 at this point.

I’ve been watching Sheff’s swing, and folks, it does NOT look to me like he’s lost much velocity. It looks to me like he’s upper-cutting a bit, and he doesn’t have his timing down yet. But rather than being slow, he’s hitting a lot of fouls to LEFT. In all seriousness, I’m very, very tired of reading and hearing form fans (mostly not doctors) about how Gary’s “done”. His doctors and the coaches obviously don’t think so, and he’s reporting no pain and pretty good range of movement. It’s still reasonable to hope he may hit 30 HRs this year, and I’d expect about 25, over about 100 more games.

And please quit bitching about his contract. It’s not your money.

EDIT: 2 more quick points: Sheff’s arm looked fine to me last night. You might not have seen this on TV, but after a liner to left, he threw a one-hopper on a dime to first base to keep the runner honest. And second, he’s 39, not 41.

judpma May 7, 2008 at 10:10 am

I am not sure whether or not anyone could actually manage this team.
Can’t run- don’t bunt-can’t move runners-can’t get the two out hit to score what runners they do get on, don’t hit and run ….4 quality starts from the starting pitchers in over 30 games. Decent but not great relief pitching…. live for the three run homer, problem is getting the two guys on to hit the three run homer. This team is a total mess

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