Tinkering with the lineup, but not too muchBy
I’ve burned a good amount of pixels over the last few days talking about lineup makeup. I based my assumption for when Derek Jeter would get his 3000th hit on the fact that he’s going to bat leadoff and also explored how the Yanks’ lineup order doesn’t matter all that much. Tonight, Marc Carig throws an interesting tidbit into the mix.
The Yankees, he reports, will tinker with their lineup after their off-day next week, but they’re going to be conservative in the tinkering. He writes:
If Derek Jeter gets moved in the batting order, the Yankees captain won’t be bumped out of the upper-third of the lineup, hitting coach Kevin Long said Tuesday. “That’s not even an option,” Long said.
If that’s the case, should Yankees manager Joe Girardi decide to make a change and install Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot, Jeter’s most likely landing spot will be hitting second in front of No. 3 batter Mark Teixeira.
Even if there are shifts in the rest of the lineup, Long said the same general rule applies, with middle-of-the-order bats remaining in the middle of the order even if their exact order changes. “You know that Tex, Alex and Cano are going to be in the middle,” Long said. “You know in the beginning it’s going to be Jete, Gardner, Swish or Granderson. We know the pieces.”
On Monday, I linked to David Pinto’s Lineup Analysis Tool analysis for the 2011 Yankees based on Marcel projections, and it returned an interesting idea. The “ideal” Yankee lineup would look like this:
Of course, Jeter’s not batting third, and Teixeira will not hit second, but you get the point. It would take something of a leap of faith for Girardi to slot Cano into the three or four hole this year; it would be a tacit admission that either Teixeira or A-Rod aren’t fit for their old spots. But it’s easy after 2010 to make the case that Cano could and should handle on of those spots.
Again, though, I’m left with the same conclusion I had on Monday: There is no wrong answer here. The Yanks are still projected for over 5.29 runs per game, and the 0.003 difference in runs per game isn’t worth upsetting anyone who might take offense. Still, as Spring Training plods toward Opening Day, the lineups might start to get more and more interesting as we go.