The Jays have some serious problems with their lineup and their quest to produce runs. How else could you explain having 3 guys who are hitting below .230 this season as your 1-2-3 hitters? I really don’t care how many HRs Jose Bautista has hit this season or what kind of slump he is in, he will never be an effective lead off hitter. The day the Jays brought Fred Lewis and had him leading off in I thought finally, the Jays have a top of the order guy on the team. While teams have definitely been able to get Fred out by continuously going inside on him, he is still able to fight through some quality ABs and has shown improvement in driving the inside pitches for singles. So why go back to having Bautista leading off, even if it is for a game or two? The reason this old lineup was brought in by Cito was to keep the majority of the order intact, but does it help the Jays to have one of their best RBI producers at the top of the lineup and how does it make sense to move HIM around? Sure, they want to get Jose’s bat going again, but hitting lead off doesn’t make any sense to me.
Jose Bautista should be hitting 3rd, Adam Lind should be hitting 6th, and Alex Gonzalez should be hitting 5th. Doing so would take pressure of Lind, would allow Bautista more RBI opportunities and ensure that he sees more quality pitches in front of Wells, and would keep the aggressive Gonzalez in the mix to keep opposing pitchers off balance. So who leads off you may ask? Jarrett Hoffpauir or Fred Lewis, that’s who.
Jarrett, for those who don’t know, is hitting .327 with a .382 OBP in AAA and has experience at 3B. Why not give him a shot and send one of the 2 bench outfielders in AAA? The Jays need someone who can get on base at the top of the lineup and Jarrett is the perfect candidate right now. Even if you hit him 9th in the lineup, the Hoffpauir and Lewis combination when turning over would look pretty good. Besides, what do the Jays have to lose, they’re not scoring any runs anyways?
My proposed lineup is as follows:
- Fred Lewis (or Jarrett Hoffpauir)
- Aaron Hill
- Jose Bautista
- Vernon Wells
- Alex Gonzalez
- Adam Lind
- Lyle Overbay (Brett Wallace when called up)
- John Buck or Jose Molina
- Jarrett Hoffpauir or Edwin Encarnacion
The nice thing about having Hoffpauir around is that when the Jays face a LHP they can sit Edwin Encarnacion who is helpless against them with a .136 average. Hoffpauir, on the other hand, has a .288 average against LHP and a decent .350 OBP. Jarrett is defensively sound, can play 2B as well to give Aaron Hill some days off, and is the type of player who plays hard every single day.
The only reason I can come up with that Cito Gaston has decided to use Jose Bautista in the lead off spot in that he’s getting antsy and wants to see results ASAP. Going back to what he started the season thinking therefore makes sense because it was his first instinctive thought when he looked at the makeup of the Jays bats. I don’t think it’ll ever work, but kudos to him for trying. Now, however, I hope that Alex Anthopolous and Cito can hammer out the reasons for making REAL changes to this lineup. Bring up some AAA guys, sit others, maybe make a deal or two. Whatever it takes to get the Jays on a roll needs to be done, because falling too far behind the Rays or Yankees can be fatal to the 2010 season. It may be inevitable anyhow, but they should at least give it their very best shot with the tools they have.
Since old is new again and it is Cito’s last season managing the Jays I doubt that we’ll see changes until the deadline comes around and AA makes some moves, but I am hopeful anyhow that players like Jarrett get the shots they are earning in AAA. He’s the perfect compliment to this lineup and gets on base at a higher rate than any Jays player currently in the lineup on a regular basis. Bring him up and have a look see, that’s my call of the day.