Decipher Tonight’s Lineup

I don’t really post pregame lineups all that often, but inspired by some good Twitter conversation with Eric @ TBLA and Chad @ MOKM, I wanted to put up tonight’s and point out some things worth noting.

First, here’s the lineup:

Podsednik 8 Theriot 4 Ethier 9 Loney 3 Blake 5 Gibbons 7 Carroll 6 Ellis 2 Kuroda 1

You’ll probably notice that Matt Kemp is sitting in favor of Jay Gibbons. Ben Maller caught up with Joe Torre to explain why:

Joe Torre on sitting Matt Kemp: “I want to give Jay Gibbons some at bats. He’s got a left-handed bat. Matt is gonna play most of the time.”

Clearly, I’m not going to argue that Kemp is tearing the cover off the ball. He’s not, at all. It’s just that he’s hardly the only Dodger who isn’t hitting right now, and when he’s the only one who’s regularly being benched, it sends the wrong message. Now, whether that message is “Kemp is the problem” or “Joe Torre isn’t paying attention” is up to you, but neither one is good.

If Torre’s argument is to get another lefty bat in the lineup against the righty starter, why doesn’t he ever do the same against lefties and get Andre Ethier (historically atrocious against lefties, and with just a .289 OBP against them this year) out in place of Reed Johnson, who crushes lefties (.912 OPS this year) and has started just one game since June? (I know Johnson was injured, but still.) If you’re so interested in Gibbons, why doesn’t he ever get a start at 1B in place of James Loney, who’s hitting .223/.281/.348 in his last 30 games? If you want to get a poorly performing player out, how come Casey Blake (.218/.286/.345 since July 6) rarely is ever benched?

It’s just some weird decision-making by Torre, on top of his usual inexplicable decision to constantly hit Jamey Carroll and his .382 OBP at the end of the lineup. It’s probably not going to matter in the long run, since just about no one (other than Ethier & Carroll) is hitting, and because Kemp isn’t forcing his hand. Still, this gives the impression that Matt Kemp is the #1 issue on offense, based on how he’s been treated, and that seems unfair to me.


Maller on Rafael Furcal:

Joe Torre: “Rafael Furcal suffers a setback, will be reexamined, his rehab is on hold.”

Keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?