Pre-game discussion starter:
The lineup is up over at Extra Baggs:
Inside the head of the man who makes the lineup:
Let’s see…hmm. I need a leadoff hitter, and he should be fast. Leadoff hitters need to be fast, even if they’re awful at stealing bases or getting on base. Hmm. No Lewis, because he had a stretch of 66 plate appearances in July that ruined his season. I don’t need to think about him ever again. So I’ll go for Velez, who has done just as bad in his last 89 plate appearances, isn’t a natural outfielder, and doesn’t have a stretch of extended success above Low-A. Well, except for that fluke performance when he was recalled. But who’s counting? And why look at a player’s career when you can isolate a small sample of that player’s at-bats to paint a totally different picture?
Okay, great. Now I need a #2 hitter. He should be fast too, or at least he should have been fast in the past decade. He needs to handle the bat, by which I mean he should be able to ground into outs all over the field. Renteria.
Conventional wisdom says that our best hitter should go third. But I want to save Molina for cleanup. So Sandoval’s the default choice.
Molina is an RBI machine, and, hey, his quad magically feels better now that there’s another starting-caliber catcher on the roster. Cleanup hitter. I couldn’t imagine it any other way. I feel sorry for the teams who have to get by with anyone who isn’t as clutch.
Randy Winn is a veteran, and even though he’s only hit one home run since Opening Day – one that just barely left the park, at that – he’s a veteran. He knows what to do in the five-spot, so long as it doesn’t involve hitting for power, hitting for average, or hitting. Winn will get it done unless he continues not to, so it’s a pretty easy decision to make. He should get at-bats in the middle of the order.
Uribe has the second highest slugging percentage on the team, but he isn’t a veteran like Winn. Well, he is, but that’s not the point. Even though he’s the only player on the roster who has had more than two seasons with more than 20 homers, and he’s in a good groove right now, he can’t displace Winn. Winn’s a veteran. Winn is due. Winn is the kindest, gentlest, most courageous man I've ever met.
Travis Ishikawa can’t hit tenth, so I have no other place for him.
Rowand is one of three guys on the team who’s hit more than 10 home runs. Heck, he’d be leading the Mets. And he had a home run yesterday. He seems to do well in this park. I should bat him eighth. If it gets to the late innings, I want the odds to be better that Randy Winn will get one of the last at-bats.
Ah. That felt good. I love the intellectual rigors involved with filling out a baseball lineup.
Close? I can’t begin to speculate on the possibility of a theory that hints at a description as to why Randy Winn should be hitting fifth, even in a lineup as bad as this. And the continued playing time for Velez, long after the pixie dust wore off, is similarly baffling. Bowker’s probably buried deep on that bench, though, because you can’t rely on AAA stats – funny stats, I call them – especially when they’re up against an isolated hot streak with a clearly defined starting point, such as what Velez did upon being recalled from Fresno.
I’ll admit, there isn’t much to do with this roster. There isn’t a true leadoff hitter, cleanup hitter, #2 hitter…there aren’t a lot of hitters. So it’s amazing how much there is to disagree with every single day.
*raises glass to Bruce Bochy*
It’s a work of art, every day. I salute you captain, o captain.