Of the challenges Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly faces heading into a the season with plenty of new players and sky-high expectations, how he’ll set the lineup card day in and day out figures to be one of the more tedious tasks.
Aside from needing to be mindful of providing certain players with rest and taking into consideration matchups, Mattingly’s new roster has added flexibility that’s come with some uncertainty. Whereas Dee Gordon emerged as a natural leadoff hitter, there isn’t a clearcut replacement.
Jimmy Rollins may assume the role, though Mattingly isn’t ready to commit to that just yet and understandably so. Regardless of how it unfolds, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman will play some role in helping set the batting order, according to Bill Plaschke of the LA Times:
Contrary to the reputation of some young sabermetrics-bent executives who have old-school managers, Friedman says he will not essentially make out the lineup card for Mattingly. However, it is clear they will discuss the lineup far more than most managers and executives.
Friedman’s involvement isn’t to suggest he doesn’t trust Mattingly or wants to be in complete control, but rather is a byproduct of his belief in collective thought so as to come to the best solution:
Don has a job and that’s to manage our 25-man roster and deploy them on a nightly basis for what gives us the best chance to win, but there will obviously be debate over what that means, and there should be,” Friedman says. “Donnie is so mired in the day-to-day stuff that sometimes he doesn’t see things as clearly, while other times he has his finger much more on the pulse than we do. It’s all about us listening to each other.”
With Gordon and Matt Kemp no longer on the team, Howie Kendrick, Rollins and Yasiel Puig figure to be the first dominoes to fall that will then shape the lineup card. Both Rollins and Puig are capable of batting leadoff, and Kendrick essentially can hit anywhere from the two-hole to sixth, and stated as much at his introductory press conference.
Which catcher starts for the Dodgers also figures to have an impact on how the lineup card will shake out on any given day. The majority of A.J. Ellis’ career at-bats have come from the seven (110 games) and eight (213 games) spots.
Conversely, Yasmani Grandal has most-often been penciled in as the cleanup hitter (74 games) and in the fifth spot (53 games). His next highest total of games played from a specific spot in the lineup card is 24 games when batting eighth.
No matter which lineup Friedman and Mattingly may eventually settle on for the lion’s share of the club’s games this season, it will likely come after plenty of trial and error.
Howie Kendrick Compares Angels And Dodgers Fan Bases