Here's the thing about point our accusing finger at The Manager: As your didactic grandma might say, you end up with three fingers pointing back at you.
Ultimately, we'd concur with some of the kids who noted that The Manager doesn't have the most spectacular depth of resources from which to choose, and when taken in the context of the guys at his disposal, it's not totally nutty-cuckoo to think that José Bautista might be the most appropriate leadoff hitter on the team.
Our quarrel with The Manager, we suppose, has less to do with his actual tactics and more to do with the process by which he arrives at them. In some ways, we'd rather hear The Manager make a sound and rational explanation for the wrong move than to stumble blind into the right one. As MLB.com's Cory Schwartz is fond of saying: "Don't confuse the process with the outcome."
As yesterday went on, and folks challenged us to come up with a better lineup, we were given some pause. Could we actually fill out a better lineup? And does it even matter?
We're supposing here that lineup construction does matter, because we don't put a ton of faith in the projection systems. (And that's a whole other series of posts that we'll get into eventually.) As such, here's the two basic lineups that we would fill out for the Jays for the initial first few months of the season.
On the typical day, when they'll see a righty, we'd send them out like this:
1. Overbay, 1B: Lyle-O has the best OBP of any hitter on the team, and we'd rather have a guy who can get on base and move along with the offense behind him as opposed to a guy who gets on at a sub-.300 clip and can steal a bag here or there.
2. Hill, 2B: Wait...what?? Yeah, you read right. We'd far prefer to have Hill hitting fourth or fifth behind Adam Lind. If Vernon Wells were to demonstrate that he was able to make solid contact on a regular basis, we'd move him up here.
3. Lind, LF: Yeah, we'd put Lind in the field, and we'd leave him third in the lineup. At least, we would in this lineup, to keep a left-right balance. Plus, Lind still brings a high OBP, so keeping him towards the front of the lineup (rather than fourth, as we'd prefer) isn't the worst sin ever.
4. Ruiz, DH: Get some guys on in front of Ruiz, and let's just see what sort of monkeyshines he can create. If he struggles in the first month, maybe you move him down to sixth in the lineup, but we'd be willing to take a shot on a guy who hit a homer every 11.5 ABs and who slugged .615 in his limited time in the Bigs.
5. Snider, RF: Once again, we're leaning on a left-right-left lineup construction towards the top of the order. Plus, we'd like to put the Great Rosy-Cheeked Hope right in the middle of the lineup and let him learn by putting pressure on him, rather than "protecting" him further down the order and keeping him on the bench against lefties.
6. Encarnacion, 3B: We've run out of lefties at this point, so we're pretty much just taking the best bat available. Encarnacion stands out to us as a guy who could have a pleasantly surprising year. Moreover, he sports a career OBP of .341, higher than Wells' .329. He'd be a guy that we'd watch closely in the first few weeks, but we'd be willing to take the shot on letting him produce from the bottom third of the lineup.
7. Wells, CF: We'd like to put Vernon down a bit farther in the lineup to create an atmosphere where his free swinging ways can create runs if the guys ahead of him get on base. If his wrist is right and his swing comes back and if he doesn't look like he's gorged himself on Texas barbecue all winter, we'd consider moving him up the second, or sixth or even (gasp!) cleanup. But he's got to prove it first.
8. Buck, C: Because of the two dudes left, he's the better hitter.
9. Gonzalez, SS: Great glove.
And on those odd days, when they get a right-brained southpaw, we'd send them to the plate in this order:
1. Bautista, RF: Wait, isn't this what The Manager said? Well, yeah. But we'd reserve this spot for when at LHP toes the rubber, given JoBau's career .360 OBP and .478 SLG versus lefties.
2. Hill, 2B: Again? Yeah, for pretty much the reasons listed above. And it makes us wonder if the Jays didn't miss out big time on Johnny Damon. Although we're willing to let the Tigers that that $8 million gamble.
3. Lind, DH: No real change...
4. Ruiz, 1B: ...Though we'd let Ruiz have his turn in the field and sit Overbay, so long as he is here.
5. Wells, CF: We bump Wells up versus lefties, given his career .859 OPS (.364/.495) against them.
6. Encarnacion, 3B: Eddie's numbers against lefties actually stack up against Wells' (.370/.461), but we'll give the nod to Vernon given his higher slugging.
7. Snider, LF: We'd keep him in the lineup, and let him work his shit out versus lefties. Because if he's the face of the franchise, he's going to have to start hitting them sooner or later.
8. Buck, C: Well...Where else are you going to put him?
9. Gonzalez, SS: Nice glove.
As always, your input is warmly welcomed. (So long as you agree with us and flatter us along the way.)