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On Lineup Originality

Migrant Redbird

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Cardinals fans frequently criticize Tony La Russa for playing guys at other than their usual positions, and especially for his penchant for playing infielders in the outfield. At various times this season, he has ...

(1) Played two middle infielders in left and right field, in his continuous endeavor to get more right or left handed bats in the lineup. (Three of his middle infielders are switch hitters.)

(2) Played Chris Duncan and Josh Phelps in left field, because that Pujols guy seems to have their natural position, first base, locked up. (One Cardinals fan suggested putting Pujols back in left field -- bad elbow and all -- so that Phelps could play 1st base.)

(3) Played Troy Glaus (3rd baseman) or Adam Kennedy (2nd baseman) at first to give Albert a day off. (I think this was while Duncan was on the DL and before Phelps was brought up from Memphis.)

(4) Moved Cesar Izturis to 3rd when Glaus wasn't playing there, and played Miles at shortstop. (Miles can play just about anywhere, but he's better at 3rd than short, while Izturis sports the best glove on the team.)

(5) Moved Joe Mather (before his season ending injury) or Ryan Ludwick to center, so that he could get more right handed bats in the lineup. (Mather and Ludwick are both excellent outfielders and capable of patrolling center, but Ankiel and Schumaker are both excellent center fielders -- easily better than Mather or Ludwick.)

Sometimes putting a player in an unfamiliar position or failing to field the best defensive team possible has had clearly unfavorable results.

I recall the second game that Kennedy played first. On a ball hit to the first base side of the pitchers mound, Kennedy demonstrated his extreme range by getting over to field the ball. Unfortunately, he surprised both the pitcher -- who did not go to cover first -- and the 2nd baseman -- who was waiting to field the ball when Kennedy cut in front of him -- and there was no one for Kennedy to throw the ball to.

I think that was the last time that Kennedy played first, but it didn't stop La Russa from making many other unconventional moves. As the Cardinals playoff situation became more bleak, it seemed as though La Russa's managing became more and more strange.

Last Thursday, against the Reds great young right hander, Edinson Volquez, La Russa handed the following lineup to the umpire.

"[Thursday's] lineup hasn't played for us this year," La Russa said. "And I don't think I can do anything about it. If somebody has a better idea, let me know."

   PLAYER         BA    OBP   SLG1 *Schumaker CF  .301  .360  .4102 #Miles LF      .312  .351  .3973  Pujols 1B     .351  .456  .6374 #Lopez 2B      .265  .329  .3615  Glaus 3B      .267  .369  .4776 *Kennedy RF    .269  .310  .3447 *Johnson C     .375  .375  .3758  Lohse P       .098  .098  .1159 #Izturis SS    .249  .310  .293

Perhaps I should mention that Lopez has hit .347/.394/.488 in his 132 plate appearances with the Cardinals since they picked him up off the Nationals scrap heap? However, I fail to see why that justifies him batting cleanup.

The Cardinals defense was sloppy.

The usually reliable Izturis made a bad throw which went off Pujols' glove when he stretched for the ball instead of coming off the bag and conceding first base to the runner, who ended up on 2nd instead and eventually scored the first run of the game.

Miles, in left field, seemed to get a slightly late jump on a fly ball but came in a long ways to get it, just to have the ball fall barely in front of him. That play inspired the following exchange at the following afternoon.

Which the next poster nominated for "Post of the Year".

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