The Lud, The Load and the lineup

TLR has put Ryan Ludwick in the two spot in the order the past two nights. I understand his thought process — he loves that "danger" in the No. 2 hole, the threat of a guy who can hit the ball out of the park.

There’s just one problem. Ludwick does some things very well — like hit for power. There are other things that he doesn’t do nearly so well — like get on base. He’s a perfect choice for the fifth or sixth or seventh spot when he plays, much like I feel about Juan Encarnacion.

So what to do about the two spot? Here’s a novel idea — what about Scott Rolen? The middle of the order doesn’t seem like the best place for Rolen right now; his power is clearly missing, whether it’s due to a physical issue or something else. But in the context of this lineup, he’s doing a great job of getting on base. A .344 OBP isn’t all that special, but it’s better than a lot of what his teammates are doing. So why not give it a look?

On a night like tonight, when it’s a LHP and he sits Duncan, you could go something like Taguchi-Rolen-Pujols-Encarnacion-Ludwick-Molina-middle infielder-middle infielder. When it’s a RHP, Taguchi-Rolen-Pujols-Duncan-Encarnacion-etc.

Thoughts?

-M., with the iPod on shuffle.

30 Comments

Bring back Lucky Seven before you lose all your blog readers to Alyssa

I will bring back Lucky Seven. The request/demand is noted.

But I doubt that’s enough to compete with Alyssa, at least for some of my readership.

-M.

I think that’s a great idea. And hitting in front of Pujols couldn’t hurt Rolen.

Hey Matthew?

Great minds think alike. I emailed a staff writer at the Post Dispatch with the idea of Rolen number two, due to his lower slg but pretty good obp.

All these letters!

Don’t you still think we need a proven rbi person to hit behind Pujols. Could Duncan be that man?

Oh well, don’t want to be too vain, but here is a copy of my other post:

“I wonder what you might think of this. I have done some analysis (I can explain later if asked to), and here is my ideal lineup (based on SLG and OBP):

David Eckstein

Scott Rolen/Scott Spiezio platoon

Albert Pujols

Chris Duncan

Juan Encarnacion

Jim Edmonds/So Taguchi platoon

Yadier Molina

Aaron Miles

Of course this assumes health and letting Duncan stay in against lefties. To me this indicates the Cards must get a good cleanup hitter, allowing Duncan and Encarnacion to slide down one notch. Then again, maybe we need to package Juan E, Anthony Reyes, and one or two other we can spare to try to get an RBI man. I know I haven’t addressed starting pitching. Who know where that’s going?”

Maybe no Rolen/Spiezio platoon, but Spiezio once in a great while.

sounds good to me, Matt… but have Tony vett it with Scott first, eh? Read this in today’s post-game NYTimes article: “Flores has allowed 14 of 22 inherited runners to score.” Ouch…

One problem with this idea is that Rolen derives quite a bit of his OBP from walks, which a pitcher can, to some extent, control. Bat him in front of Pujols, rather than a bunch of league-average-or-below hitters, and they’ll be less likely to pitch around him. This would normally be a good thing — you want hitters to get chances to hit — except that he’s not hitting, or at least not for power. Between that and the fact that most players (and most people) don’t like having their routines disrupted, I don’t think this would work well.

A somewhat wilder idea in the same vein: how about MOLINA as the #2 guy, experimentally? His OBP isn’t much below Rolen’s, he can handle a bat, and very little of his OBP results from walks anyway. Of course it would be better, all else equal, to have the #2 hitter have some speed, which Molina certainly does not.

I understand the concept, but we just don’t see that to be the case. Chris Duncan kept walking in front of Pujols. Drawing walks is a skill, and it’s one that Rolen has. It actually tends to be LESS subject to fluctuations than batting average.

-M.

Molina has speed below par.

It’s halfway through. Let Duncan stay in the lineup.

matthew,

i suspect you can’t answer this, but i will ask it anyway (i’m not a big blogger, but i need to vent). do you think albert pujols is hurt, or is he just trying to do too much in an off year? i’m listening to the game because i don’t have cable, and from what i’ve heard, he’s looked pretty bad twice already tonight. he’s also had two two-error games as of late. do you think there is maybe something wrong with his eyesight or reflexes? is he maybe not 27?

I am not Matt, but I did observe Albert last night. He says he is alright and the numbers will be there in September.

Have we come to expect too much? Albert has set the bar high. I don’t have the answers.

I don’t have the answers either, but I saw Albert last night too. And he did look REAL BAD a couple times. Especially in the first. He took a terrible swing at a Noah Lowry changup and was made to look foolish. At the end of his swing his right knee was in the dirt and the ball was just getting to the plate. It looked like he could’ve swung twice! It was bad…Then you look at the numbers and he’s hitting over .300 with 15 homers and 51 rbi. He’s halfway to a 30 HR, 100+ rbi, .300 season. So, yes, I believe he has set the bar a little high for hiimself. He’s not the Albert we’ve seen the last 4 years, but he’s still better than A LOT of players. He is swinging at junk he usually doesn’t think about offering at, though. Which begs the question, “What is wrong with Albert Pujols?” Like schmitty asked, is his eyesight messed up? Cause he’s definitely not picking up a lot of pitches this year.

only problem with that is in the 2 slot, you will see a lot of fastballs

scott rolen seems no longer capable of hitting a fastball

Nah, Albert’s fine, he’s just trying to be to perfect, the guy doesn’t get very many offdays, so when the All-Star break comes he may not play, he might just take a quick little break, and look for him to be dominant in the second half of the season.

M, I still don’t understand the manager’s obsession over having a power threat in the 2-hole in the lineup. How often does the number two hitter come to bat with multiple runners on? And when the 2 hitter does hit a home-run it brings up our biggest RBI man with the bases empty. Tell me, where’s the logic in that?

If you have ever read Buzz Bissinger’s book about TLR “Three Nights in August”, he gives you the answer. In the first inning, even the best of pitchers are trying to work out their pitches and get a feel for pitching that night. So, by putting a damage hitter in the number 2 spot, you can try to capitalize on that and get an early advantage.

I really like that idea, especially with the way that some of the starts have been going for the Cardinals. And don’t forget that whoever hits 2nd will be in front of AP, so he will get to see some good pitches.

I don’t see those minute advantages outweighing the disadvantages created the rest of the game. I’d rather pay Albert to drive in those runs from the 3 spot. That’s what he does best and this takes chances away from him. Counter-productive if you ask me.

How about we move someone with speed to the number 2 spot, I mean we have Juan Encarnacion, he’s got some speed and he doesn’t hit a lot of homeruns and he’s got a .270 average more times than not, so I say we switch our lineup to being whene veryone’s healthy to: Eckstein, Encarnacion, Pujols, Duncan, Rolen, Edmonds, Molina, Kennedy, and then the pitchers spot. Then by the end of the month, we should try to get one more good starting pitcher, a 2nd Baseman who can hit for average, and one more power hitter in the lineup.

Last year Encarnacion wasn’t very good in the number 2 hole. I actually like Edmonds there myself. He will strikeout a lot, but if Eck is on first I would rather see that than a DP.

Well I don’t really like Jim Edmonds all that much, no matter where it be in the lineup, it seems to be all he does anymore is strike out, and last year was last year, this is this year, you can’t base all your stats off of what someone does in the past because people change.

Juan has a low obp. Rolen has a higher obp. Ryan is unproven, but dynamic it seems. We need a consistent rbi man.

Well it seems to be the only people who know how to get on base as of right now are Albert Pujols and Chris Duncan, but I like Duncan batting 4th not 2nd.

Excellent idea with regards to Rolen second. Actually, when you began the lineup with Taguchi, Miles Pujols, Duncan, it seemed to be working. We went on a role of winning games, then he (LaRussa) put Ludwick in #2 after he hit the two HRs, and seems to have abandoned what was doing well. Rolen would be a good fit there too, and it might get him on a role. Either way, whomever goes in #2 needs to be a person who will get on base and NOT someone who strikes out a lot, otherwise you waste the leadoff hit, and the Cards are easy to bat around. Edmonds & Encarnacion strike out too much, and unfortunately, Sir Albert seems to be hitting into a ton of Double Plays.

Hmm, didn’t a problem like this happen to Alex Rodriguez last year. I’m talking about what’s happening to Rolen. Didn’t they have to put him in like the number 7 spot and even once the number one spot hoping the more at bats earlier in the lineup would help him to start hitting?

What about moving Pujols to the #2 spot. He’ getting on base a lot, has the potential to hit the ball out and really isn’t doing much where he is except scoring runs. Three doubles, no home runs and
about 11 RBI’s in the last 24 games where he is now. Maybe a move would spark his power to return.

Oh yeah, that’s brilliant, that way Albert Pujols gets on base and absolutely noone behind him is able to score him, so that way the amount of runs the Cardinals score is even less, pure brilliance, how about you just wait until after the All-Star game and see how hot his bat gets rather than making such rash and ridiculous decisions.

Considering that Puljos is hitting .400 over the past 10 games with no home runs and only 4 RBI’s, it does not seem too insane to me. His power slump goes back another 15 games as well. Over the same time frame, Rolen has 8 RBI’s, Duncan 10, Encarnacion 8 and Ludwick 7. Seems that these are the guys bringing the runs home right now. I’m not talking about a permanant move…just until he gets his power swing back.
I also wonder if there is something going on we’re not aware of as he is swinging at pitches I have never seen him swing at before and is having way too many at-bats which are not good quality. Maybe it is his eyesight.

Nah, his eyesite is just fine, I know what his problem is. He’s trying so hard to carry this team on his back, he’s going out there and trying to hit a homerun every time now, because the team’s not winning games, and he so badly wants to win games, I think if we add one more power hitter behind him to drive in more runs, then you’ll see him go back to what he was last year, where he’s calm and relaxed at the plate. They say that when you try to hit a homerun the chances are that you won’t.

matt, i was wrong about ludwick — he too can crush a fastball, and i like him in #2 even if taguchi and duncan hit like godzilla in that spot. don’t forget that tony thinks about #2 as if it were #3 or #4 in late innings when the lineup turns over after a pinch hitter. of course, the problem is not the offense right now, nor even the batting order (did anyone say starting pitching?), but this blogpost is a good opportunity to review the offense. if you look at rbipct (rbi/(rbi+lob)), pujols is waaay down in july, 5 rbi in 24 “chances,” .208 in july vs. .303 for the year, even though his obp is ok for july. duncan is off the charts, .562 from 9 rbi in 16 “chances,” and rolen’s .400 and ludwick’s .333 are starting to redeem bad rbi starts. i’m sure risp-ba looks similar. i agree that pujols is trying too hard — every time i see him pull a groundball, i suspect he was trying to kill the ball, and this seems to happen a lot with risp. i hate to say it, but with this stat, it’s easy to see kennedy dragging, .222 for july, .118 for the year, and molina, ugh, 1 rbi in 18 “chances” in july, .056 (.176 for the year)

I am simply disguisted by this years team. When their pitching does good, their offense does horrible, when their offense does horrible, their pitching does worse than horrible.

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