Okay, Time to Change the Lineup...
Going into the season, it was pretty much common knowledge on the blogs that the M's offense was the strength of the team. And we all figured that this offense would be average at best. Surely, the question marks were larger in the rotation, and the lack of faith in the rotation has proven to come true. Yes, I'm saying this even in spite of Washburn's shutout tonight. I'm definitely a fan of Washburn, and he's having a very decent start to 2007, but he's more of a 'luck' pitcher than most. He's a safe bet to succomb to Hendu's law of averages.
A quick glance at the team stats on THT shows that the M's are currently are second-to-last in the AL in OBP, edging out only Texas, whose .302 team OPB is only .003 points lower than the M's. But in spite of that, they're still in the middle of the pack for runs scored per game -- a skosh below average, but still good enough for second in the division (with Texas, ironically, at the top of the list -- hmmm, and they also have a Bloomquist-esque sub-400 SLG). Perhaps some of that came from the M's double-digit runs scored in the last home game vs. Texas.
One thing we all talked about as being very vital to this team's success was the start that both Richie Sexson and Adrian Beltre got off to. Both of them have had at least one or two awesome games, but it's very, very clear that both of them have yet to get things going. Sexson's got a few Funk Blasts, sure, but he's still off to a horrible start, as is somewhat typical. Ibanez' decline is clear. Beltre's been predicatbly inconsistent. Just because there's been some serious scheduling issues doesn't mean that a lineup shakeup isn't in order. While Vidro's been hitting OK, he's also either been on the front end or the back end of a lot of GIDP's. The only comparison to Edgar I see is that he's still able to get his hits decently, but he's a liability on the base paths. A move down in the batting order could both spark the offense and minimize some of those GIDPs.
With these thoughts, and several others, in mind, here's what I'd do with the current M's hack-o-matic lineup:
1) Ichiro, CF, duh. He's been Ichiro, with a slightly lower average, and a slightly higher SLG.
2) Adrian Beltre, 3B. Well, I'm not sure there's a better option here.
3) Kenji Johjima, C. Hot bat even after a two-day injury absence. Leading the regulars with OPB.
4) Jose Lopez, 2B. Thought about swapping him and Joh, but I want the OPS batting third. Unlike Sexson, he doesn't strike out, and he does get on base -- relative to his teammates, of course. Might also help Jose rediscover his power stroke.
5) Jose Vidro, DH. Move him down in the lineup. Need a 'lefty' to break things up a little. Provide a little more OBP to the MOTO.
6) Richie Sexson, 1B. Yeah, he probably wouldn't like this 'demotion' but for now, that's where I'd put him. Either that, or I'd bench him for Broussard (and bat Broussard 4th or 5th)
7) Raul Ibanez, LF. Slump, slump, slump. Having the three slowest runners down further in the lineup harms them probably a little less than further up in the lineup.
8) Jose Guillen, RF. He needs to get his bat in gear. Quickly. Tell him that Mike Scoscia called, and he is now to report to the 8th slot in the lineup. Yeah, that'll make him angry.
9) Yuni Betancourt, SS. Well, if he does get on, he's got the speed to not get in Ichiro's way.
I realize Hargrove will never change things THAT drastically. There are too many egos involved, and too much money to bench. Still, Broussard needs to play much, much more than he is. Heck, give Burke some time at DH on occasion. I just want some more offense. The horrendous pitching is seriously going to need a boost.
Go ahead, Hargrove, shake things up...