Mesoraco drives in the only run as Reds drop an 11-1 decision to the Cards. (Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE)

Lineup Changes Do Not Kickstart Reds Offense


Remember the good old days of 2010? Sure you do. The offense was not producing too well and skipper Dusty Baker made some changes. They didn’t all come at once either. Eventually, the changes seemed like wizardry at the time.

The end game was that Drew Stubbs was dropped from lead-off to 7th. Orlando Cabrera was moved from 2nd (although he also hit 6th a few times) to lead-off. Brandon Phillips also moved up from clean-up to second. Scott Rolen took over for BP as the team’s clean-up hitter. We all know the net result. Hopefully, that magic wand will once again work. If last evening’s contest is any indication, there could be more changes down the pike.

Those changes…

Zack Cozart inserted in the lead-off spot
Drew Stubbs moved from 7th to 2nd
Brandon Phillips dropped from lead-off to clean-up
Scott Rolen dropped from clean-up to 6th.

I understand all of these moves. When the Bats were struggling last season, then-manager Rick Sweet moved Cozart to lead-off and the offense responded. Whenever a player is in a rut, Baker moves him to 2nd and he finds his swing because he will see more fastballs considering Votto is next. BP has had past success from the clean-up spot.

Logical moves. I said I understand them, not agree with them.

After yet another game where the offense could only muster one run, you’re left shaking your head. But, to me, there’s a greater issue. That net result from 2010 wasn’t all good, however. The Reds still have not properly addressed and/or filled that of the lead-off and clean-up spots.

Side note: both RBI in the series have come off the rookie bats of Cozart and Devin Mesoraco.

On the clean-up spot, the general consensus is that you simply insert Jay Bruce there and all is well. In the past I’ve never been a big proponent of that move and part of it (not all of it) is based on the lefty-lefty situation. I’ve also thought part would be the added pressure…but I’m seeing the justification of this move that some Reds fans have proposed.

I know Bruce isn’t exactly lighting up opposing pitchers, but here’s a question to ponder. Is there truly any other hitter on this Reds roster that could remotely relieve some pressure off of Joey Votto? With Bruce possessing the long ball threat on any given pitch, no. There isn’t. If you want to keep the lefty-lefty from happening, who do you put clean-up? Last night might not have been the time to attempt this as Jaime Garcia was on the bump for the Cards.

Then again, maybe it was the perfect time.

I know BP has previous success from batting 4th, I am not a fan here especially considering he’s not 100%, maybe not even 90%. I’m more for having him bat 2nd.

The lead-off spot has brought about its fair share of suggestions (and arguments) as well. Cozart may be only a temporary fix, if he’s a fix at all. Others will always clamor for Stubbs because of his speed and pop. At times, this has been a bigger debate than if Aroldis Chapman should be a starter or reliever.

The hope was that Stubbs could be that lead-off guy and that Rolen could maintain his status as a clean-up hitter. Whenever you mention any negative thoughts in regards to the offense, some get defensive. I read it all winter.

If lead-off and clean-up can be resolved this season, things will be on the up. If Cozart and Bruce are the real answers, even better as both are young. If not, mediocrity could creep in again as it did in 2011.

And I, for one, would not enjoy that.

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Tags: Baseball Brandon Phillips Cincinnati Reds Drew Stubbs Jay Bruce MLB Reds Batting Order Zack Cozart

  • beeker

    Like you, I am reluctant to see Bruce follow Votto, but I agree that there appears to be no better choice for batting cleanup. Some said Ludwick could be the guy, but that is yet to be seen. It’s never a good sign when we are searching for the ‘least bad’ option for the clean up spot.
    I much prefer seeing Brandon hit for contact than for power, which means keeping him at #1 or #2. But it was clear last night that BP needs to sit some more. I love that he wants to help his team, but he is dinged enough that he is no better than Valdez right now, so let him heal completely.
    I keep toying with the thought of stealing from the TLR playbook and putting Stubbs at 9th. Even though TLR makes me gag, could it be any worse then what we are getting right now?
    Can we agree that Willie Harris is a failed experiment? 1-for-19 = .053 BA. Or is he going to get the Corey Patterson treatment? Joe Morgan at his current age would be a better option.
    If I were filling out the lineup card for today’s game, I would try this: 1) Cozart, 2) Valdez, 3) Votto, 4) Bruce, 5) Heisey, 6) Frazier 7) Hanigan, 8) Arroyo, 9) Stubbs.

  • Steven Engbloom

     @beeker Wait…you would play Heisey? Interesting…

  • beeker

     @Steven Engbloom I am impressed by neither Ludwick nor Heisey at this point. I see no difference other than 6 years of age.

  • EE RIPPER

    Hi Steve,
    Great job as usual. I have a hard time finding any sympathy for the Reds plight, as I watch the Cubs and their supposed “big league” lineup. How bad is the Cubs lineup. I  am asking because as much as I try, I still cannot put enough objective distance between myself and what I’m seeing. Is it a bad dream??? Please tell me the Cubs aren’t fielding a AAA lineup. Tell me the Cubs won’t lose 100+ games..Whisper sweet nothings in my ear..er wrong blog..Anyway, what does a thoughtful Reds fan or two think of the Cubs? And please be honest, I can take the pain. I am ,after all, a Cubs fan.
    Peace!
    P.S. I have Cueto on my fantasy team and nary a Cub (I’m not that stupid lol)

  • beeker

     @EE RIPPER Starlin Castro is definitely big league. I really like that kid. Too bad he’s a Cub. ;)
    The outfield looks like a total mess. Byrd and Soriano may have finally hit the wall, to borrow a phrase. How is Campana not on the big league roster? He’s a ball of fire.
    Still a lot of work for the Cubs to do before they are ready. I’m not sure I see 100 losses, but 90 looks possible.

  • Steven Engbloom

     @EE RIPPER The Cubs are not fielding a AAA lineup. The Cubs won’t lose 100 games.
    For the record…I had my fingers crossed.

  • beeker

     @Steven Engbloom Since Ludwick and Heisey are essentially the same player, we might as well just call them “Heiswick”.

  • Steven Engbloom

     @beeker Or Ludsey. Take your pick.

  • jsuer1971

    I like Cozart at the top.  The idea of Stubbs at #2, however, makes my skin craw.  I’d put Hanigan at #2 WAY before I’d put Stubbs there.

  • jsuer1971

    I like Cozart at the top.  Stubbs at #2, however, makes my skin crawl.  I’d put Hanigan at #2 WAY before I’d put Stubbs there.  You know Hanigan is going to put the ball in play.

  • JordanLeeBarhorst

    I’m just spitballing here, and I know absolutely none of his stats would back up the decision, but what about Stubbs in the cleanup role? We know he has power, and a lot of teams have the 4 hole occupied by a guy that strikes out a lot. I know he folds under pressure, but maybe hitting AFTER Votto instead of before him might be just as good. After watching him at Wrigley I can’t say I’d be against it. And then we still have Phillips in the two spot, which I think is perfect for him. 

  • Steven Engbloom

     @JordanLeeBarhorst I think you would see Votto pitched around even more with Stubbs batting cleanup. Opposing teams are all too aware of his penchant for striking out. At this point, I honnestly would not put him cleanup.
    That said, since Stubbs has moved to second in the order (and I know it’s only 5 games), he’s hitting .364 with HR and 5 RBI, 2 steals, 3 runs scored and an OBP of .417.  He doesn’t lead the team in strikeouts either. He’s second (16) behind…Joey Votto’s 17.