Monday, August 13, 2007

Offense in witness protection program

The Royals lineup collectively witnessed a murder this week and as a result they've been under strict instructions to keep a low profile. Mission accomplished. Yeah they went 3-3 this week but had it not been for Bannister, Davies, Little Leo and the bullpen, this was an 0-6 week. The only respectable offensive game came Tuesday when the onlookers scored five runs. Since then their run totals have been: 2, 1, 1, 4 and 1. The two, by the way, was exactly nine runs short of what was required to tie the game thanks to our durable No. 5 man, Odie Perez. The sad thing is, ODP can pitch awful tomorrow and get away with it because I'm convinced that the weekly Buddy Bell poker game (already consisting of LaRue, Gload and Elarton) has another member. Once Jorge and Ducky come off the DL, Buddy will most certainly find a way to yank Nunez(1.9 ERA in 4 starts) from the rotation. Sorry, the Odie tangent was lingering inside for a while. But if we don't score at least six tomorrow night, we will lose. Some ways I would inject life into the lineup are as follows.
-Remove Mark 'GIDP machine' Teahen from the 3-hole for the rest of the year. My friend and I had a brief discussion last night about which Royals hitter is the worst at his role. Without hesitation, we both said Teahen. Yeah, you may say he's still hitting above .280 and Jason LaRue still plays for us but let's be honest, JRuey(you know what, he's not even worth a nickname) bats 9th and is a catcher. The backup catcher position is not one we place a lot of emphasis on. Teahen has flopped more than anyone else at playing his role. Extra-base power is a reqirement for the 3-hole, not a bonus. Instead of sparking rallies, Teahen kills them as he is tied for the league lead with 19 groundouts into double plays. He has not hit a home run since May 29. Every single Royal with the exception of Gathright has hit one during this stretch. Hell LaRue has four. Our .153-hitting catcher has one fewer home run than Teahen. He would have virtually no doubles if it weren't for those hustle plays that catch every centerfielder off guard still. Not that I don't love those, it's just that every time I see one, it just reminds me of how little power he posesses. Solution: Bat Gordon third and see if Teahen can get it going from the 7-hole.
-Cut Emil Brown. Now that Gathright has been able to do his thing at the plate and make spectacular plays in left, Emil, who already has no future beyond this year, has no use to this team anymore. I've defended this man in many debates but if Joey wasn't here, Brownie would easily be the biggest disappointment in the lineup. I am aware that he was not given sufficient playing time earlier in the season when it mattered for him to play but we're beyond that point now and there's a guy who does something different for us who is doing his job better. Solution: Bring up Craig Brazell and let him platoon with Gload. I don't want Huber or Shealy up when we have a man who has clubbed 34 home runs this season. He cannot possibly fail when compared to anyone in our lineup when it comes to power production. He could platoon with Gload at first and Gload, in turn, could get some additional playing time as a LF against lefties in Brown's old spot.
-Bat Gathright leadoff. This is the biggest problem with our lineup. We have our fastest and most consistent on-base threat batting 8th. Who does that? Oh wait, this is the same man who bat Shane Costa fourth twice. Joey has an OBP of over .410, which is by far, tops on the team. Slide DeJesus to 5th to be in position to drive in the likes of Grud, Butler or Gordon. Dave D is a better fielder and uses what speed he has better than Joey but instincts only take you so far. Joey is a natural leadoff hitter who has been the most pleasant surprise on the team. Give him his shot. It's not like we don't have time to experiment.
This leaves us with the lineup of Gathright-Grudz/German-Gordon-Butler-DeJesus-Gload/Brazell-Teahen-Buck-Pena.
Yes there are too many lefties but we have German to spell either Gordon or Gload against LHP's and I think we need to be more concerned with our hitting in innings 1-7 than worrying about matchup problems later in the game. I would think getting the best 9 on the field in an order that makes sense would come before late-inning statistical matchups.
See if this works until September and then re-assess. Couldn't possibly be worse.
Well here's to another ODP start. Only about eight more to go.

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