I went to bed early. What’d I miss? Anything interesting?
Yesterday was one of those days that spawns a million posts. I have a Matsui post in the hopper that is almost done. I have to write a post on Tim Beckham. (Brendan was at a Dodgers game and sent me a post too.) But all that takes a back seat to the Rays new lineup.
No matter what happens, we cannot survive two months in the AL East with Catcher-Johnson-Rodriguez at the bottom of our lineup card every day. Between now and July 1, we have Boston twice, New York twice, Toronto twice, the (suddenly interesting) Orioles twice, and the Tigers once. I love Joe’s faith in his guys, but Elliot Johnson just isn’t the solution.
(Incidentally, isn’t this the moment for Tim Beckham? If he had progressed at even an average pace, don’t you call him up for his offense, let him play shortstop and move Rodriguez’s offense over to third base? Not only is Beckham not ready, but now he is suspended for 50 games too. Figures.)
Here’s an idea. Why not try Ben Zobrist at 3B? This solves a lot of our problems.
First, it isn’t a difficult defensive transition for Zobrist. He is a former shortstop and can certainly handle the demands of 3B. In fact, based on all the shifting the Rays do, playing 3B for us is kind of like playing shortstop a lot anyway. Longo covers an entire side of the infield regularly in our shifts and Zobrist is capable of handling that AND is capable of turning double plays.
Second, it keeps our lineup from using two defense-only infielders at once and and frees Johnson up to serve his role as a platoon partner/situational defender. Johnson becoming a regularly hurts our bench flexibility and, our bench flexibility is one of our huge advantages at the moment.
Third, it puts Matt Joyce in the lineup every day. I’m not sure that actually “solves” a problem but Joyce is the bat that has the most upside (I honestly have never thought “upside” was a word but, everyone keeps using it so I give up). Pena, Scott, Zobrist, Jennings, and Upton, are already getting as many at bats as they can handle. An increase in Joyce at bats might be able to fill some of Longo’s loss. (Also, we finally get to find out if Matt Joyce is an everyday Major Leaguer or not).
If Joyce is the concern with this approach, then you send Will Rhymes back to Durham and call up Brandon Guyer just as soon as he gets off the 7-day DL. Guyer spends two months as Joyce’s platoon partner in RF and our offense doesn’t lose as much as it does with Johnson in there every night. Simple.
This works, right? Why isn’t anyone talking about this? Why are we pretending like we suddenly have positions and we need to cover Longo’s position.
[UPDATE] I just saw this post on Sweet Spot Blog (that you should be reading every day because it is awesome) Crasburn Alley breaking down 3B that are available on the trade market.
Mark Trumbo is an interesting option. Bill makes the good point that he isn’t a long term solution at 3B because he is a first baseman. Well, guess what, we don’t need a long-term solution at third. But we DO need a long-term solution at first. Right? Can’t you see adding Trumbo to cover for Longo and then using him in the Pena/Scott 1B/DH platoon the rest of the way until he becomes the every day 1B next summer? This makes too much sense.