Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Upon Mauer's Return

The streaky Minnesota Twins could be less so if offensive production did not hit massive peaks and valleys. Part of the problem during this current dive may have some to do with Joe Mauer's absence in the lineup.

Upon Mauer's return, PJS recommends this lineup to Ron Gardenhire.

1. Luis Castillo, 2B
2. Joe Mauer, C
3. Michael Cuddyer, RF
4. Justin Morneau, 1B
5. Torii Hunter, CF
6. Jason Kubel, LF
7. Mike Redmond or Rondell White if he's ever healthy. DH
8. Jason Bartlett/Nick Punto, SS/3B
9. Nick Punto/Jason Bartlett, 3B/SS

This lineup allows the Twins' two bets on base guys, Castillo and Mauer, to set the table for the guys who are supposed to drive in runs. It's highly unlikely Gardy will use a lineup like this. The popular arguments against it usually include a comment like: "But, you're best hitter always hits third."

Among other examples, let's look at the Yankees, where their best hitter, Derek Jeter, has excelled in the two-hole for a number of years. At this point in Mauer's career, he's an on-base guy with little to no power. Wasting the two-hole with strikeout prone Nick Punto is a travesty.

UPDATE: It's been a busy day and I didn't notice a large discussion is going on over at Joe Christensen's blog at the Star Tribune on this very subject. Great minds think alike!!! Now, does Gardy agree?

Here's a nice selection from Joe C's post.

The Twins have been outscored 46-21 in the first inning. That means, opponents are consistently getting the psychological edge that comes from playing with the lead. One remedy could be fixing the lineup so that a pitcher has to face the pesky Luis Castillo followed by Mauer, the on-base machine, and then immediately into this lineup’s teeth of Cuddyer, Morneau and Hunter.
UPDATE 2: LaVelle E. Neal of the Star Tribune reports Gardenhire has talked with players about hitting Mauer in the two-hole. This is great news for the Twins. It's also great to see Gardenhire is an avid reader of this blog--OK, maybe not--and the Star Tribune blogs where readers, like PJS, have been calling for this switch all season.