Our leadoff hitter is not getting on base. Nor is our second best option. Our lineup has no speed. Our power hitters are streaky and slump prone. While we sit around waiting for a 3-run home run, we’re losing too many games. Simply put, we’re not consistently putting up enough runs to support our pitching staff or any sort of sustained winning streak. It’s not the time of year when you can make trades, so for now, the onus is not on the front office, but rather the manager who puts the lineups together each game. Terry Collins needs to shake things up and try something new until at least a few hitters shake off the cobwebs and start putting the bat on the ball. Following are a few suggestions:
2- Sit the strugglers. Even in his best seasons, Granderson never seems to perform well in April. He doesn’t need to play every single game and, at least until his bat wakes up, he should not be facing lefties at all. Dropping Reyes in the order was one thing, but if he can’t even muster a .100 batting average, steal a single base or make a routine play, he needs to sit a few days. Maybe he needs a few days off to sort out his personal issues. Let Wilmer Flores and/or TJ Rivera get some time at the hot corner. Rivera had one bad game and got quickly sent to the dog house.
3- Juggle the lineup. Collins has said that “hitters like to know their place in the lineup.” Yeah, and pitchers and fans like to see runs on the board. When the three redundant lefties are in the lineup, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, and Granderson need to be spaced out. The hottest hitter of the three should hit cleanup. The guy who’s doing okay should bat 6th and the one struggling the most should be on the bench. Cabrera makes for a nice #2 hitter when he’s on, but the 2-hole should be held for a guy who’s making contact and advancing runners. Conforto or Travis d’Arnaud could slot in there as well. Collins needs to be better at playing the hot hand.
4 – Start playing some small ball. This team doesn’t bunt, steal, or hit and run. Time to manufacture a few runs. The Phillies scratched out two cheap runs on us Wednesday night playing this way. This base-to-base, wait for a long ball business only seems to work out about once or twice a week.
5 – Lobby the front office to sign Kelly Johnson. He’s unsigned and would be thrilled to get the call. He was our best pinch hitter the last two seasons and can play five positions. It will take him a few weeks to get in baseball shape, but by then we’ll have a better idea of where we stand with Reyes and David Wright.
A month from now, if these lineup struggles continue, then the onus will shift to Sandy Alderson to either swing a trade or call up one of our prized prospects from Las Vegas. For now, figuring out how to play the hand we’ve been dealt falls squarely on Collins’ shoulders.