Seriously, how tough can it be? Jim Leyland has managed over 2700 major league games, plus an addition 49 playoff games and countless more in the spring training and the minor leagues. During that time, he has been responsible for filling out the lineup card for each and every one of those games. Recently, Leyland seems to have forgotten how to do it.
With the offense struggling as much as it has this year, Leyland needs to establish consistency with the lineup. The constant shuffling has not worked. Perhaps, Leyland purposely tries to illustrate to Dave Dombrowski that he needs another hitter by running out lineups that would rival those of the MudHens. The top three in Sunday’s game were Don Kelly, Ramon Santiago, and Josh Anderson. Seriously? I’m half expecting to read Dane Sardinha’s name in the three spot tonight.
My hope is that is exactly what Leyland is doing. It’s as if he’s saying “See? I need another bat so I can field a decent lineup, because this is the best I can come up with from what you have given me.” I really can’t say as I blame him, but a face to face meeting might be a better option for sending a message.
Conventional wisdom says Placido Polanco is going to hit, and that Magglio Ordonez will find at least some of old form, so maybe this whole problem will correct itself. But we now stand more than 1/3 through the season, how much longer do we wait?
The Tigers need to go get another hitter. He should be left handed and be able to play a corner outfield spot. He should also feature the ability to hit the long ball with some regularity. We have seen so far that that hitter is not Clete Thomas, and is not Josh Anderson. I doubt that he is Don Kelly, either. It is time to make a deal.
A quick check of the standings show Baltimore, Washington, Oakland, San Diego, and Pittsburgh as likely sellers. Aubrey Huff would be a nice fit from the Orioles, though his price tag may be too high. Adam Dunn could be had, as could Nick Johnson from Washington. Dunn is terrible defensively, but his bat would be a welcome addition. Johnson would be a better fit, as he can play outfield, though usually doesn’t, but the Nats have been asking the moon for their OBP machine. The guys in Oakland and San Diego don’t seem all that attractive, outside of Matt Holliday who is right handed.
That leaves just the Pirates, and the player that Detroit should target is Eric Hinske. Hinske can play first, third, left, and right. He has good power, he has twice clubbed 20 HR seasons, including last year. Plus he has played for the past two American League champions, so he may just be good luck. The Pirates have used Hinske only sparingly, as he has just 86 at bats in 2009, so he may come cheap. Which is key, because Detroit probably can’t offer much in a trade.
If they can acquire Hinske or someone like him, the lineup can be re-assembled. I would personally like to see Granderson find a home batting third, but another lefty bat would allow him to move back to the top of the order. Either way, Detroit needs to find a lineup and allow it the time needed to work consistently.