What Kind of Lineup Are We Looking at on Tuesday?

Today’s lineup, as you probably saw, featured recent call-ups like Trent Oeltjen, Russ Mitchell, & Chin-lung Hu, a retiring veteran getting a farewell start in Brad Ausmus, and the revived Jay Gibbons. Other than Gibbons, making a strong case for next year with another homer, the group combined to get on base just once – a single by Oeltjen.

To his credit, Joe Torre gave the new guys their chances to play in Houston, particularly Mitchell, who is still looking for his first hit after fourteen chances. Other than A.J. Ellis, who’s had his share of starts throughout the year, each of the new arrivals got to start at least one game. I’m particularly surprised that Hu, who missed much of the second half of the ABQ season with injury, played ahead of Rafael Furcal and Jamey Carroll, but indeed he did, and kudos to Torre for that.

Here’s the thing, though. Torre admitted that he chose this series to play the B-team because Houston isn’t in the race either, but after Monday’s off-day, the Giants come to town with lefties Clayton Kershaw and Barry Zito facing off. Since San Francisco is very much in the race, Torre claims that the regular lineup will be fielded, out of respect to the other teams batting the Giants.

This is all well and good, except that the “regular lineup” has a few well-known holes against Zito, namely Andre Ethier, James Loney, and Ryan Theriot:

PA AB H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
Andre Ethier 34 27 5 1 0 2 4 5 .185 .324 .222 .546
James Loney 26 26 2 0 0 0 0 7 .077 .077 .077 .154
Ryan Theriot 15 14 3 1 0 0 1 1 .214 .267 .286 .552
Total 362 326 88 16 7 25 30 62 .270 .336 .390 .726
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/12/2010.

Would Torre, claiming that he’ll trot out the regular lineup, really sit three of his usual eight because it’s the right baseball play? Theriot in particular has been brutal; his 0-3 today gives him just two hits in his last thirty-four plate appearances. There’s a pretty solid argument to make that Reed Johnson, John Lindsey (or Gibbons, but I’d assume he would be back in LF, as Scott Podsednik is fighting plantar fasciitis in his foot) and Jamey Carroll should be in the lineup, but I’m just not sure I can see it happening.

******

The Dodgers’ magic number is 9, but unfortunately it’s not as much fun to track that as it had been the last two years; this magic number is, of course, for their official elimination from the race. I take no joy in that, and it’s largely irrelevant since they’ve been done for weeks anyway, but it’s an important milestone – Torre’s said repeatedly he won’t make an announcement on his future until that happens. Making a decision on the manager, no matter what it is, is the first step towards the future, and in all honesty I’d rather it happen as soon as possible. The nine could get down to zero as soon as late this week.

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