Mark Newman asks three (future) Hall of Fame managers -- along with Henry Chadwick, risen from the grave -- about lineup construction, and I couldn't help siezing upon this bit from Joe Torre:
- With certain people, it's easy. You know where the leadoff guy goes. I used to have trouble and Don Zimmer gave me a great hint-start from the bottom. He was right. All of a sudden I realized when you put the names down that way, it makes the rest of it easier. With our current lineup, you know where (Matt) Kemp, (Andre) Ethier, Manny (Ramirez) and (Rafael) Furcal will be. Those guys will be in the top four or five spots. It becomes pretty simple, and occasionally it's a matter of how to attack a certain pitcher with right-handed hitters or left-handed hitters. But when you have players who play every day regardless, it's not that tough a call.
(Sorry, I can't resist ...)
Umm, Skipper? Have you forgotten already that Matt Kemp has spent more than half his time this season in the bottom third of the lineup? And have you failed to notice that Rafael Furcal, who simply must be near the top of your lineup, has a .320 on-base percentage and has stolen only six bases all season? Russell Martin, who's spent most of the season in the bottom third of the order, has a higher OBP and more steals than Furcal, who at this point is suited to just one spot: eighth.
Look, I know that batting orders are relatively unimportant, and that the difference between any two moderately reasonable lineups is just a few runs over the course of the whole season. But everybody loves to talk about lineups, and I'd love to hear from a manager, future Hall of Famer or not, who's coming close to actually putting together the best lineup possible. 'Cause Joe Torre hasn't been close this season.
Maybe he'll get it right next month.
(Hat Tip: BTF's Newsstand)