The term “lengthening the lineup” is one of thousands of baseball cliches.
In fact, if you watched more than 30 seconds of playoff baseball this season, you probably heard the term at least 12 times — almost as if it were a way for announcers to make themselves feel good about how much they know about baseball.
But enough with that rant, because first, I have a confession to make: I’m going to use that phrase in here, but first let me explain what it means.
When the Dodgers lost Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to injuries, much was made of how Don Mattingly would structure the Dodgers’ lineup. While many expected Yasiel Puig to fill the No. 2 hole in the lineup, it was instead filled by Mark Ellis and his .270 average so that Puig could bat further down the order to “lengthen the lineup”.
So, because of a lack of depth, the Dodgers were forced to hit one of their worst hitters second in the lineup, meaning he’d get more at-bats than Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Puig.
Makes sense, right?
Well here’s the good news: as long as Don Mattingly hasn’t fallen off his rocker between now and Opening Day 2014, Dodger fans will no longer have to worry about that problem.
As news broke this morning (again) that the Dodgers had signed Cuban infielder Alexander Guerrero, the only thing I could think of was simple:
NO MORE MELLIS BATTING SECOND. MORE PUIG.
But wait, what does Guerrero have to do with Puig?
He lengthens the lineup.
The whole point of batting Puig 6th and Ellis second was so that pitchers would never have an easy inning. Once the pitcher got to the bottom half of the order, he couldn’t coast through a mediocre slew of hitters like the Ellis’ and the pitchers spot.
The idea was that by batting Puig 6th, he’d offer protection to Ethier and Gonzalez, while also making sure the pitcher had to be on his game at all times.
With Guerrero, however, all of that changes.
Guerrero is known mostly for his power bat, which has been compared to that of Dan Uggla. Don’t worry, the good Dan Uggla circa 2007-2011.
So now, instead of a mediocre No. 2 hitter, the Dodgers could move Puig into the second hole and bat Guerrero sixth as protection for the middle of their lineup.
Crawford. Puig. Ramirez. Gonzalez. Kemp. Guerrero. Uribe. Ellis.
Okay, go ahead, wipe the drool from your mouth. Now throw the kleenex away.
Okay, we’re back.
There are no easy outs, there’s more power than there was before and the lineup is tough almost all the way down to the bottom.
While every team struggles to find a competent bottom of the order, having Uribe (who hit .280 with 12 home runs) and Ellis (who had a .318 OBP with 10 home runs) isn’t too shabby at all.
Of course, this is all speculation about Guerrero — he could be a bust, or he could be bad Dan Uggla, we really don’t know.
But if this guy is everything people are making him out to be, it’s a great move for the Dodgers. The cost was only money, allowing LA to continue developing their farm system and the risk is low.
With the season just a few days old, the excitement of the off-season has already kicked in.
Nothing like a big move to wipe away the hangover of a playoff loss.
2014 can’t come soon enough.
In case you missed it, here’s Adrian Gonzalez’s “Mickey Mouse” antics from the NLCS!