Alfonso Soriano hit a three-run home run last night out of the seventh spot in the lineup. If that last part did not make you say, “Huh?” then either you follow the Cubs or Soriano is on your fantasy team. As it turns out, Soriano had hit sixth most of the year for Lou Piniella, but since Mike Quade has taken over, the star left fielder has taken a demotion in the order. That isn’t the only difference between Quade’s lineups and those of Piniellia either. Here is the batting order from Quade’s first game at the helm:
Piniella had access to Dewitt for three weeks and never batted him higher than seventh, save for two exceptions. Quade has batted him leadoff in both of the games he has managed. The switch is a heck of a change in fortune for Dewitt and a peculiar – not necessarily right or wrong, but peculiar – change for a new manager to make, which led me to wonder: have other interim or new managers this season added a personal flare to the lineup cards immediately after becoming boss?
The answer is going to be subjective in each case because I did not do anything mathematical– i.e. weigh at-bats by lineup slot before and after – to arrive at the answer. My process might weaken the case but this is more trivial than serious. Here are the findings:
Mr. Gibson took over for the 80th game of the season. Up until then, Chris Young had not led off all season. Since, he’s led off every game but 10, with Stephen Drew leading off the last five. The only other significant and steady change has occurred lately with Kelly Johnson and Justin Upton switching spots, although that too has occurred only recently.
Double points awarded to the Orioles for killing two birds with one show this season. Trembley met the axe after 54 games and Samuel after 51 more, leaving Showalter to manage the last 21. Samuel quickly moved Miguel Tejada from fourth in the lineup to second; a move that totally makes sense given Tejada’s proficiency in reaching base. With the exception of some new names, the only notable move is Showalter batting Nick Markakis second, something that started a few days before his arrival.
In: Edwin Rodriguez
Out: Fredi Gonzalez
Gonzalez hit the unemployed waters following game 70, and if he is following along, he would’ve noticed the same lineup most days until Chris Coghlan’s injury. Since then, Hanley Ramirez has moved to leadoff while Logan Morrison bats second and Gaby Sanchez third. Jorge Cantu’s departure meant Dan Uggla could beat cleanup. Cody Ross’s departure left Mike Stanton batting fifth.
In: Ned Yost
Out: Trey Hillman
Yost was toasted – get it? – and promoted after 35 games. Hillman’s final lineup included Scott Podsednik at the top and Jason Kendall at the bottom. At first, things looked like standard protocol for the Royals’ lineups, then, oh so suddenly, Yost batted Jason Kendall second once. And again a little over a week later. Then, Yost began batting Kendall second daily. From June 1 until Monday night, Kendall has batted second in all but nine games. Not the best of ideas considering one has to Photoshop Kendall on base in order for the image to exist.
In: Daren Brown
Out: Don Wakamatsu
The most recent of managerial firings (as opposed to retiring), Wakamatsu was given a pink slip after 112 games. Brown has not messed with the top of the order, leaving Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins along, but moved Jose Lopez to third for a two-game span and then flipped to Russell Branyan, with Lopez batting cleanup instead. Brown’s biggest change is playing Matt Tuiasosopo as much as possible; he of a career .218 on-base percentage in 166 plate appearances and so-so Triple-A numbers.
I would classify Quade, Gibson, Samuel, and Hillman as making significant changes in the order with Brown on the verge. The more I think about it, the more it makes sense that new managers, particularly of the interim variety, shake things up. Managers being fired generally are not running the optimal lineup out there (that or the team is void of talent) which means the new manager’s job is to ghost-ride the whip until the offseason when an even newer manager is hired. So, what’s a tinker here or there hurt? Maybe it motivates the players, maybe it doesn’t. In the end, Brown and Quade aren’t risking their managerial futures by playing with the controls a little.