There were a flurry of transactions in the past 72 hours across baseball, but the biggest of those moves didn’t happen with the hometown team. Is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? Most of us on the staff here reviewed the possibilities of trades, especially around multiple position players that were floated out there (notably almost all outfielders and some connection to center field). The only deal that was made (acquiring Kansas City Royals closer (by default) Jonathan Broxton for two minor league pitching prospects – Donnie Joseph (AAA) and Juan Carlos Sulbaran (AA)) didn’t seem to address the biggest concern areas people had – a true leadoff hitter / tablesetter for the return of Joey Votto and possibly another starting pitcher.
Am I disappointed that another bat wasn’t acquired? To an extent, yes. Another lefty bat would probably have been a helpful thing at this point. Xavier Paul has been a pleasant surprise, but he surely isn’t enough. The inconsistency at leadoff hasn’t really been addressed. However, maybe the issue goes back to how this lineup is constructed. Consider who was batting leadoff when the season started: Brandon Phillips. Where has Phillips batted for a decent chunk of the year? Cleanup.
BP has his highest OBP in the leadoff spot. High enough, realistically, to make up for the two guys who have primarily been sharing that duty this season:
Both Cozart and Stubbs have exceptionally higher numbers in the two hole, but Stubbs would get my nod based on sheer speed alone.
If you put BP in his more effective spot to set the table (and minimize his propensity to ground into double plays), then your logical cleanup man becomes Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick’s career numbers look something like this:
The batting average isn’t healthy, but the capability of driving in runs is. He used to follow one of the best hitters in the game (Albert Pujols) and put up some serious numbers. There’s no doubt he can do the same thing following Votto and has been very respectable following Phillips in Votto’s absence.
The pieces are already there. How you put the pieces together may make them more effective. Dusty Baker has to be willing to go back to what worked best towards the end of last season and get both Brandon and Ryan into their most appropriate lineup spots. It isn’t preposterous to do, and it’s worth doing.
Continue the conversation on Twitter at @JDRentz.