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Tito tinkers with the lineup, but it doesn’t really matter

Apr 8, 2011, 11:30 AM EDT

Terry Francona

Terry Francona is tinkering with the lineup for today’s game with the Yankees: he has moved Carl Crawford to the top of the order — his fourth different slot in seven games — and he’s rounding it out with Pedroia second, Gonzalez third and then Youkilis, Ortiz, Drew, Saltalamacchia, Ellsbury and Scutaro.

Lineup order doesn’t interest me too much. For example, unlike some — who are taking this very seriously — I haven’t gotten too worked up over the Braves batting Jason Heyward sixth. Is it ideal? No. But batting order is a pretty small thing in the grand scheme and there are a lot of things more worthy of my limited supplies of ire. Like golf. God, do I hate golf.

As for the Red Sox, this lineup change comes with a couple of pre-set storylines, ready for any result in today’s game.  If the Sox score a lot and win, Francona “sparked” things by putting Crawford in the leadoff spot. If they lose, Francona was “desperately shuffling, hoping for a spark.”

There are a butt-ton of good hitters in that lineup. Eventually they’ll all hit, and it won’t really matter where they’re at.

  1. Joe - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    And a good hitter on the bench in Jed Lowrie. I look forward to the day he takes the SS job from Scutaro.

    • Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 8, 2011 at 11:50 AM

      Agreed. Scutaro is just turribull.

  2. kmgannon - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    That twitpic about the Braves’ lineup was absolutely classic.

  3. Old Gator - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    Tito? You’re a generation short there, Craig.

    • Ari Collins - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:40 PM

      No, they call Terry “Tito” just like his dad.

      • Old Gator - Apr 8, 2011 at 2:20 PM

        Oedipal curse. That explains this mess.

  4. BC - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    The team is hitting .181 for the season. At this point, try batting Ortiz leadoff. I mean, does it really matter?

  5. bigtrav425 - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    its only been 6 games lol…But this is probably there best line up in my opinion

  6. scatterbrian - Apr 8, 2011 at 12:54 PM

    I tend to agree lineup order gets a little blown out of proportion. However it isn’t insignificant either. Consider the 2010 Braves, and the number of plate appearances per lineup slot:

    1. 767
    2. 754
    3. 737
    4. 712
    5. 691
    6. 675
    7. 660
    8. 637
    9. 619

    So as currently constructed, the Braves/Fredi would rather give ~80 more to McLouth (.336 career OBP) than to Heyward (.395 OBP), which is kind of asinine. Beyond that (and someone may need to interject here) I believe Baseball Between the Numbers shows a significant advantage to scoring first in baseball. I don’t recall the specific numbers, but I’m pretty sure the winning percentage was high enough to suggest scoring first correlates to winning. As such, I’d want guys at the top of my order who not only get on base, but have some power as well. Or more to the point, I’d want Heyward up in the first inning, and to get as many PAs as possible throughout the season.

    • riverace19 - Apr 8, 2011 at 1:10 PM

      McLouth won’t last #2 for the Braves because he can’t hit and had a .298 OBP last year.
      But this thread is about the Sox; I agree when guys are hitting lineup doesn’t matter that much. Still though, this is how I would play it

      Ellsbury cf
      Pedroia 2b
      AGonzalez 1b
      Youkilis 3b
      Crawford lf
      Ortiz dh
      Drew rf
      Saltalamacchia c
      Lowrie ss

      If Francona needs a spark, give the kid a chance who hit the crap out of the ball the second half of last year. Scutaro has already shown his ceiling and is getting older by the minute.

      • scatterbrian - Apr 8, 2011 at 3:09 PM

        You’re right…I just used the Braves mainly for Craig’s benefit, and because of that twitpic

        By the way: Was that a real church marquee? There are marquee-generators on the web, so I’m curious if that was really displayed or not.

    • mannistats - Apr 8, 2011 at 1:11 PM

      This, well said. The difference between the worst and best lineups is usually 10-20 runs, which ultimately comes out to about a win over the season. While that doesn’t sound like a whole lot, in the AL East, that game may be the difference between the division and not.

      • scatterbrian - Apr 8, 2011 at 3:07 PM

        Exactly. I’m sure the Padres would have taken an extra win or two last year…

      • Glenn - Apr 8, 2011 at 6:02 PM

        The point here is that no manager is going to put out the worst lineup, so the difference between what a manager puts out there versus the absolute best would be considerably less than a game over the course of the year.

  7. spudchukar - Apr 8, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    The only line-up tinkering that could help the Sox tonight is in the pitchers spot. ABL, anybody but Lackey.

    • Ari Collins - Apr 8, 2011 at 1:43 PM

      Lackey was better than anyone on the Yankee staff last year, excepting (of course) Sabathia. He wasn’t worth his contract, but he was a solid #3 who pitched 200 innings. It’s Buchholz’s regression and Beckett’s health I’m more worried about

      • spindervish - Apr 8, 2011 at 3:09 PM

        Look man, I like your optimism…but Lackey is terrible. He’s become a breaking-ball pitcher who doesn’t have very good breaking stuff. And he nibbles more than I ever remember him doing in LA.

        At this point I’m starting to think I’d take Burnett over Lackey.

  8. spudchukar - Apr 8, 2011 at 1:16 PM

    I’ll take the over in today’s Yankee/Red Sox match-up.

  9. kolfax - Apr 8, 2011 at 1:34 PM

    Terry’s got the lineup right. Crawford needs to lead off. I’m two feet in.

  10. sjhaack - Apr 8, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    Never has butt-ton been used more appropriately.

  11. xmatt0926x - Apr 8, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    Agree with Craig. If there is one time in the history of baseball that an 0-6 start isn’t refelctive of bad things to come for the whole season, it’s this particular case. I’m not a Sox fan but I follow all the teams and this is just a case of bad timing by their hitters who all seem to be slumping at once. Yeah, Ortiz just by the laws of nature will slow down for good at some point but they have a boatload of good hitters who have no reason to be doing bad other than a chance slump that happens to be at the beginning of the season. This is still easily a 95 win team. The one thing I would say is overrated is Beckett,Lackey, and Dice-K. Beckett hasn’t been consistently good in a good while now and Lackey was never the stud that he was portrayed as when he was signed. I never got all that hype over him. He’s a solid/good pitcher at best. Still, that offense will be good enough to go along with their top 2 starters and a solid performance by Lackey to not win many games.

  12. spindervish - Apr 8, 2011 at 3:22 PM

    You know, for all the talk of Boston’s offensive juggernaut, the fact is they are kind of punting the bottom third of the lineup. Scutaro isn’t much, Saltalamacchia looks like he’s probably just terrible and not on the verge of any breakout, and while Drew has been chronically slept on and unfairly berated his whole career, he is like 35 at this point and probably has one of the worst impact-to-talent ratios ever.

    On top of that, everyone seems to assume Ellsbury will hit. Are we so certain? What if 2009 was his high-water mark and not his average?

    I see four legit studs, an old fat guy with tons of power but who has to decline to the point of uselessness at some point, and a bunch of parts that could be reasonably productive…or not.

    A disclaimer: I am a dyed-in-the-wool pessimist. But still…this ain’t the ’27 Yankees. This ain’t even the 2011 Yankees.

  13. scatterbrian - Apr 8, 2011 at 4:35 PM

    2010: Giants lost seven in a row at the end of June
    2009: Yankees lost five in a row in May
    2008: Phillies lost six in a row in June
    2005: White Sox lost seven in a row in August

  14. macjacmccoy - Apr 8, 2011 at 6:37 PM

    So wait in the previous most you say Pujos is pressing bc he has no protection and in the next you say batting order doesnt really mean anything. Ya you make sense.

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