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June 16, 2006

Clean-Up Duty Not For A-Rod?

From Bob Klapisch today:

Think A-Rod hits empty home runs? Sure enough, he blasted a 457-foot monster in the seventh inning -- when the Yankees were down by five runs.

Convinced he can't hit when it counts? A-Rod is batting .227 against the Mets and Red Sox this year, is 2-for-16 with runners on base in June, and even worse (1-for-8) with runners in scoring position.

Overall this month, he's batting .200 (6-for-30) with exactly one extra base hit -- the one that went soaring into the clouds in the seventh inning, but counted for nothing when Rodriguez stepped to the plate in his very next at-bat.

Perhaps you're thinking A-Rod no longer deserves to be in the middle of the batting order? Joe Torre may finally agree, hinting A-Rod will be moved to the No. 2 spot when the Yankees mercifully hit the road for a three-game series with the Nationals beginning tonight.

When I first saw this, my reaction was "Hmmm, Ortiz and Manny have never had the need to be moved to second in the line-up to get going....." But, then, I decided to see how A-Rod does batting second (as compared to other line-up slots). I looked at 2004, 2005, and 2006 to date:

ARodCleanup.jpg

The numbers do suggest that A-Rod is at his best when not batting fourth.

Based on this data, it seems (to me) the best way to place A-Rod would be as follows:

1. Damon
2. Cabrera
3. Jeter
4. Giambi
5. A-Rod
6. Posada
7. Cano
8. Phillips
9. Williams

If Torre insists on batting A-Rod second, I would hope that he would go this way:

1. Damon
2. A-Rod
3. Jeter
4. Giambi
5. Posada
6. Cano
7. Phillips
8. Williams
9. Cabrera

This is entirely subjective, but, part of the problem that I have with A-Rod batting second and Jeter batting third is a visual one.

It just seems odd to have mountain-of-a-man Alex Rodriguez being protected in the line-up by skinny-inside-out-swing Derek Jeter.

Then again, in "The Book" by Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman, and Andrew Dolphin, there's a study that says your three best hitters should bat somewhere in the #1, #2, and #4 slots. And your 4th and 5th best hitters should bat in the #3 and #5 slots.

Since we know that Damon is going to lead-off and that A-Rod seems to have issues batting fourth, then the stats say that Rodriguez should bat second - and my visual hang-ups be damned.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at June 16, 2006 10:30 AM

Comments

methinks screwing around with Jeter's place in the order is a bad idea.

Damon
Jeter
Giambi
Posada
Rodriguez
Cano
Phillips
Williams
Cabrera

I don't really like that lineup (Jorgie #4 anyway), but I don't see a reason to push Jeter to #3. He's having a hell of a year from the 2 hole and it's just not a great idea to screw around with it.

Posada is swinging a pretty solid bat right now, so I don't mind him in the 4 hole, especially since ARod is basically a black hole (from that position). The only real problem I have with it is that Giambi and Posada walk a lot, and ARod has no real protection in Cano which will lead to simple situations:

Men on base (1st/2nd, 2nd/3rd), less than two outs. Alex will go for the HR (right now), but the pitcher will be thinking, "I'd rather face Cano who swings at anything so let's pitch around A-Rod." Result: Not good, especially with the way Alex is playing ATM. He's swinging at everything and hitting nothing. He'll K or GDP or pop out.

Melky for clean-up duty!!!

Posted by: Rich [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 16, 2006 11:12 AM

Rich, if I was a pitcher right now, I'd rather face A-Rod (who's confused at the plate and can't hit anything above the belt even if it doesn't have anything on it) rather than Cano (who is bashing everything he sees right now and can take the ball to all fields).

A-Rod should definitely NOT be the number two hitter. He doesn't belong there, and since A-Rod is apparently so mentally weak, he'll take this as some sort of demotion and it will no doubt affect him. Torre tried this bullshit last year and A-Rod responded initially, but it became obvious soon that he didn't belong there and then Torre, always one to not see the obvious, put him back there for the playoffs (which hurt the team, in my opinion).

Last year, when A-Rod got put into the two hole, it was because the team didn't have a real two hitter (with Jeter leading off). Now you have the perfect one-two punch: Damon and Jeter. So obviously the first three should be Damon, Jeter and Giambi (a masher who walks). After that you can do anything you want, because Posada is a switch-hitter. You can put Posada cleanup or A-Rod. Bat Cano fifth and drop A-Rod to sixth. It doesn't matter.

Torre had no problem dropping Giambi down to seventh and eighth when he struggled, but something tells me he won't do that to A-Rod -- because Torre has become more and more of a pussy and because A-Rod would probably go insane and dye his hair blond again or something.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 16, 2006 12:17 PM

Off-topic: you've got the D-backs riled up, Steve :

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2486240

Posted by: hopbitters [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 16, 2006 01:36 PM

Payback for Game 7!

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 16, 2006 01:59 PM

Off-topic: you've got the D-backs riled up, Steve :

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2486240

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Canseco said Giambi was the most obvious juicer in baseball, but it was actually Gonzo. THE year of steroid use in baseball was 2001. (The year Bonds hit 73 home runs and people across baseball put up ridiculous power numbers.) And Gonzo just happened to have a career year unlike any other before and since.

Gonzalez is kidding himself if he thinks this is anything new. People have been talking about it for years. Simply because it's so obvious. His numbers were insane that year, and he's never come close to them again. All at the height of steroid use in baseball. Sure, he's innocent...

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 16, 2006 02:05 PM

Well in a NL park we'll see the pitcher batting ninth. And Giambi (shudder) playing 1st base. I despise interleague play.

As for Torre not dropping Alex down to 7th or 8th, are you kidding? Who does that sort of thing with a player in his prime with his career? Comparing what Torre did in 2005 with a seemingly over-the-hill Giambi (who refused a trip to AAA) and Alex is simply put, Torre bashing of the lowest order.

Posted by: Don [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 16, 2006 02:36 PM

Don, I could hit you with a very filthy comment right now -- involving you performing a certain act while I "Torre-bash" -- but I won't...

Who cares if A-Rod is in "the prime of his career"? All that matters is that he's struggling RIGHT NOW. Torre had no problem lowering Giambi in the lineup, because he knew it wouldn't mentally destroy Jason. Alex, on the other hand, would stress out about it.

And it wasn't just in '05 that Torre lowered Jason in the lineup. He did it in '03, too. In fact, Giambi was batting down in the lineup in game seven of the ALCS when he hit two home runs off of Pedro. Maybe batting lower is just what A-Rod needs. (We all know what stress does to him.)

I'm not sure what refusing a SUGGESTION (which it was) to go to AAA has to do with this, but I certainly think Giambi made the right choice, since he helped carry that team to another division title.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at June 16, 2006 04:31 PM