Another Lineup Shakeup?

I’m sure it’s been considered. I’m sure it’s been talked about within the Reds clubhouse. I’m sure Reds skipper Dusty Baker will concoct something. Thing is, does he have the means to re-enact his lineup shakeup from 2010. I’m not sure he does,

With third baseman Scott Rolen now on the DL, the Reds have to not only worry about missing his glove, but missing his bat is actually a bigger issue. We saw during last night’s game that the Cardinals pitchers had no desire to pitch to Joey Votto. Why? Because Jonny Gomes will not scare opposing pitchers or managers.

Despite his slow start, Rolen does. He can handle the bat. Gomes, not so much. Rolen can go the opposite field if need be. Gomes, not so much. So where do the Reds turn to find a guy to protect Votto? That’s what you really should be asking yourself. There have been “recommendations”. Let’s look at them.

Well one name you won’t see here is Jay Bruce. He’s slumping and needs to get going in a positive direction before anyone will consider that.

Image: Bo Hussey

1. Jonny Gomes – I’m kind of repeating myself here, but we saw for just one game what the posture will be. Teams will pitch around Votto to face Gomes. Despite his upgraded plate discipline, Gomes will still take his fair share of hacks while in a batter’s box. That also makes him more susceptible to a strikeout. He could feel the pressure of being “that guy behind Votto” and begin to grip that bat a bit more.

I don’t question Gomes (and who would have the coconuts to question him anyway) and his ability, but I like him far more in the 6-spot. If Bruce were hitting, I love the righty-lefty exchange you have 2-6 in the order. That’s what Dusty was attempting to establish. Through no fault of his (Baker’s), it hasn’t worked.

Image: Bo Hussey

2. Brandon Phillips – Um, can’t say I agree with this one. Sure, BP has hit cleanup in the past and owns a good track record at the spot, but I have two reason why not to move #4 back to #4.

First, he’s found a home hitting second. You can see his comfort level and confidence growing. In fact, BP owns decent splits of .282/.324/.437 during his career hitting from the 2-hole. Granted, his career power numbers are better from batting cleanup, but that leads me to my second point about keeping Phillips batting second. Phillips was the cleanup hitter last season when Baker shook things up and inserted Rolen there. Here’s a look at some of BP’s numbers from last season compared to this season where he’s batted 2nd for all 18 games he’s played.

April: .236/.320/.370; 2 HR and 9 RBI
Hitting 2nd: .306/.364/.472; 5 HR and 9 RBI
Hitting 4th: .239/.295/.398; 3 HR and 10 RBI
2011: .342/.388/.493; 2 HR and 7 RBI

I believe the second spot is a nice fit for BP.

Image: Bo Hussey

3. Drew Stubbs – I saw Stubbs name as a possible candidate from a fan. Not sure how I’d like this one either. I don;t think we can put him under anymore pressure than he already is. Think about it for a minute. All Stubbs has heard since last season was how he can’t hit leadoff. Dusty has shown he’s confident that Stubbs can do it. Stubbs is now slowly, but surely, looking just a tic more comfy there. Now, you want him to change. Mentally, I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

Also, Stubbs will strikeout at a higher rate than Gomes and there’s not any more significant pop in his bat either.

Now, my next “suggestion” is more of a me talking out loud kind of deal and questioning myself, but it does pertain to moving Stubbs to the cleanup role. If you’re dead set on moving Stubby there, we’re right back to where we were…who bats leadoff?

The first name on almost everyone’s mind would be Chris Heisey. A little less speed, maybe a little less pop, but it does sound nice. Or does it?

First, Gomes (or some fans would prefer Jay Bruce) would have to be “removed” from the starting lineup. I can’t realistically seeing Baker stripping either of starting duties. While I am completely aware of the public outcry for Heisey to see a lot more playing time, I have to go with Mo Egger on this…

As we’ve (understandably) have yelled and screamed about the performance of the other outfielders, Heisey hasn’t exactly seized opportunity…..

On Tuesday, Heisey whiffed with two outs in the ninth, and the game on the line.

On Wedneday, Heisey whiffed while representing the tying run in the seventh.

On Thursday, Heisey went 0 for 4, with two strikeouts.

On Friday, Heisey was picked off first base while representing the tying run in the eighth inning….with a runner on second.

Last night, Heisey fanned in his only at-bat.

The guy is getting chances.  He ain’t exactly taking advantage of ‘em.

Heisey has done some things that have been positives for the Reds thus far in the season. As of late, not so much. Alex offered Bruce as the leadoff guy some time back, but I reiterate my deal about him slumping.

So we’re back to square one here. Who hits behind Votto?

No clue and I have a headache the more I think about it. Maybe I need a toothpick…

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Tags: Baseball Batting Order Brandon Phillips Chris Heisey Cincinnati Reds Drew Stubbs Jay Bruce Joey Votto Jonny Gomes

  • justin

    **Todd Frazier** it is early in the year, and only until rolen gets back. he’s on the 40 man, why not see what hes made of for a week or two?? bring him up and start him at 3rd base just to get some experience. couldnt be any worse than rosales.

    • Steve Engbloom

      Even if you bring Frazier up, where do you put him in the lineup? Not cleanup and not leadoff. You have the same dilemma as to who hits behind Votto.

  • beeker

    I have the advantage now of seeing yesterday’s results, but here is my opinion.

    I don’t like putting Phillips at #4. When he was there before, he seemed to get fixated on being a 30/30 guy and swung for the fence too much. Now that he is at #2, he is just looking to get on base and is flourishing because of it.

    But the problem is, there is no other good option for the cleanup spot. If Phillips continues his current approach at the plate, he’ll be fine there. But if he thinks he needs to hit homers if he’s batting #4, we’ll screw up his swing and become as unproductive as anyone else in that spot.

    • Steve Engbloom

      You point out Phillips and his approach. He’s not there to hit the HR as much as he’s merely giving Votto a bit more protection. The issue (if it really is one) will be to sell BP on that. I don’t foresee that as a major porblem even if the lineup stays this way. I’m not sold on the move long term if that’s what is intended with Dusty’s move. That being said, if Bruce emerges better from the second spot, Dusty will look like a genius even though a few fans have screamed for that move to get the guy on track.

      But we cannot judge this move based on one game. Granted, I think BP looked comfortable and Bruce appeared to be a bit more settled. We’ll get a better idea with a few more games under our collective belts.

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