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Lineup Shakeup

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On both the radio and TV broadcasts of last nights game it was announced that Lou Piniella will put out a new look lineup tonight. Of course, the relievers are supposed to be starting the games right now so I'll believe him when he actually does this.

Assuming it's true then the Rays will have Gathright leading off, Crawford second, Lugo third, Cantu fourth, and Huff fifth. Gomes or Hollins will bat sixth, then Lee, the catcher, and Green will complete it. The biggest initial problem I have is that this means Gomes will sit sometimes, which is inexcusable. If you want Hollins in then bench Lee's sorry butt and put Huff at first.

Will this help the team score runs? Probably not. The issue is the mish-mash of hitters they have and their skills, making it difficult to create an ideal lineup.

Gathright is an unknown but he might be able to be a real leadoff hitter, something the Rays could really use.
The regular leadoff man lacks the most important skill for a leadoff hitter and has only decent power.
The first baseman has no bat.
The regular #2 hitter is the style of player you want in that spot but isn't the caliber of hitter you'd like.
There are two complete hitters on the team that should be great fits in the #3 and #4 spots. Unfortunately the right-handed one is still adjusting to right-handed pitching in the majors and the left-handed one has been awful all season.
The third baseman has the power to bat cleanup but his OBP is poor, particularly if his average drops below .300. He really ought to be batting 6th to drive in runners without the low OBP hurting the production of good hitters behind him but there isn't anyone else to do it.

The theme to all of this is the typical Devil Ray problem, a lack of hitters that get on base. The league average OBP is .330 and that includes scrubs, backups, struggling prospects, Reggie Taylor, etc. To be just at the average isn't very good but of the 11 hitters still on the team with 100 plate appearances or more only four are above that. Gomes, Green, and Perez all fall below .330 against right-handed pitching, only Lugo stays above it.

The team average is an acceptable .269 but they're tied for 10th in walks. The power output has been fine, they're tied for 7th in the league in home runs despite playing in a park that strongly suppresses them. It's the same old story, the lack of plate discipline is killing them and it starts with the young players like Crawford and Cantu. Both of them, especially Cantu, could be monsters at the plate but their stubborn refusal to take pitches and draw walks is holding them both back.

Back to the original point, this lineup probably won't do much since it doesn't really address the problems. The Rays have managed to put together a good offense this season (better than it looks on the surface because of the home park) but it's flawed and could come apart easily.

Is there really much that can be done though besides playing Gomes and Gathright every day? The only player that could really come up and help right now is Upton and Lugo isn't the problem. You could shuffle the lineup around and get Lee out of there, maybe rotate infielders through the DH spot. Unfortunately that isn't likely to happen and, like the crappy back end of the pitching staff, we're going to be stuck with something similar to the current offensive configuration for the rest of the season.