June 16, 2010

Is a major lineup change needed?

[Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images]

Delmon Young
is on fire. And that's probably an understatement. For those who haven't noticed, Young is now hitting .295/.333/.500 with 15 doubles, eight home runs and 41 RBI. He also has a 14-to-22 walk-to-strikeout ratio. Last year, Young had 12 walks and 92 strikeouts. It wasn't even a month ago that Young was hitting .250/.304/.438 with nine doubles, four home runs and 16 RBI. But in the last 22 games, Young has hit .368/.386/.605 with six doubles, four home runs and 25 RBI.

As someone who has never ridiculed Bill Smith for acquiring Young, and someone who has always been a big fan of his (Young), I'm excited to see him hitting with such authority. Since joining the Twins prior to the 2008 season, Young has been awful until the second-half of the season. But the fact that he's on pace to hit 44 doubles, 22 home runs and drive in 111 runners at this point of the season is very encouraging.

A lot of people have been clamoring for Young to be moved up in the lineup, but people need to be more aware of the situation than what's on the surface. It's easy to see that Michael Cuddyer, the player who would likely swap places with Young in the lineup, is struggling, but he too is having a nice past couple of weeks. In the same amount of games as Young's stretch, Cuddyer has hit .321/.394/.536 with eight doubles, two triples and two home runs. He also hasn't hit into a double play since the Twins played the Boston Red Sox on May 19th.

At least swap Young and Jason Kubel, right? Again, no. Since May 25th, Kubel is hitting .323/.389/.692 with six doubles, six home runs and 16 RBI. As someone who has had a history of struggle against left-handed pitchers, Kubel's last two home runs have come against southpaws.

The middle of the Twins lineup is running on all cylinders right now, and nothing drastic needs to be changed there. If the Twins moved Young to fifth, would it make a big difference? Him hitting seventh is not the reason the Twins are 6-7 in June. Instead, that blame can be placed on players hitting .094/.164/.151 in the two-hole since his the injury to Orlando Hudson. Well, that and Justin Morneau hitting .255/.308/.468 over the same span, but that's besides the point.

I've singled out the offense (the two-hole in particular), because as a unit, it has only scored an average of 3.8 runs per game (not including Tuesday's game) since Hudson's injury. And to just show how much the Twins rely on Hudson, the offense averaged 4.9 runs per game (in the games Hudson played) before his injury.

I know people have grown tired of others saying, "the offense will turn around eventually" but I truly believe that the Twins lineup would benefit most by being healthy. When Hudson and J.J. Hardy return from injuries, it should be enough time for the Twins to decide what they want to do before the trade deadline. With guys like Mike Lowell and Mark Reynolds thought to be available, the Twins should have enough time to get a feel for their lineup before making their playoff run.

Give it time, there's no need to make any major changes just yet.

[Image courtesy of Yahoo.com]


Sarah said...

glad to see you back, josh!

i'm also glad to see delmon finally playing like the delmon we thought we had traded for.

do you think we could actually get mark reynolds though? seems like he'd come at a hefty price.

Stu in SDGO said...

Simple solution: move Mauer to the #2 hole and Delmon to #3.

John H said...

Gosh! You don't think we should fire Gardy? Maybe fire Punto, Tolbert and those other under achievers on the bench? Oh yeah and the worthless bullpen pitchers that don't strike everybody out? We should have dumped Delmond after last season and Kubel is obviously letting the team down. It really sucks being in first place with so many crappy players and a manager that makes so many bad calls.

Steve H (SHS) said...

Yeah Josh I'm in agreement with you if it weren't for Delmon Young and Jason Kubel we'd be the worst offensive team in baseball in the month of June and June is more than half way through!

My new proposed lineup:

1. Span (hopefully he picks it up a bit, still doing a great job, but BA is lacking a bit)

2. Cuddyer (hey, he's got some deceptive speed and isn't a horrible fit in this spot IMO)

3. Mauer

4. Morneau

5. Young

6. Kubel

7. Hardy/ Plouffe

8. Valencia

9. Punto

When Orlando Hudson is back and 100% healthy then we can move him back into the #2 spot with Cuddyer going down to #7....and Hardy SS 8th... Punto 3B -9th

Anonymous said...

john H said... You left out how much cuddyer suck too.

col. l. fletcher prouty