Tuesday, March 09, 2004

To me, what matters most in a lineup is having your top on-base guys bat first. If we'd had Berkman in the two-spot all year (and not Blumberg), Bagwell, Kent and Hidalgo would have had more runs to knock in. But instead we had him bat fifth, I think because Jimy wanted to break up our all-righthanded team.

Everett slugs 100 points higher than Ausmus. And if we keep our top two on-base guys batting 5th and 6th, that will matter a whole lot in the long run. The Astros need to realize what a terrible hitter Ausmus is, and do whatever they possibly can to minimize the damage he'll do to our offensive output. Put him in the eight-spot and give the other team 2 free outs. Rally next inning. At least it's better than sandwiching Everett between outs. He'll never have a chance to drive in runs, and when he does get on base, it's worthless. Everett's a young player and has nowhere to go but up. I think he'll exceed last year's stats. He won't dominate, but I think he'll hit .250 again, and maybe post a .750 OPS (.350, .400?). Hell, let Ausmus sacrifice for him.

Which brings up another point: Let's pinch-hit for Ausmus every game, every time a starter exits (which will hopefully be in the 7th and 8th innings this year). Think of what this could mean:

1) It will give Lane an pinch-hit at-bat every game he doesn't start

2) It will eliminate nearly a fourth of Ausmus' at-bats.

3) For the most part, our relievers don't really need a catcher's defense. The relievers already know how to throw (fast). And aside from Lidge's curve, I can't think of a single pitch that might need a require a great glove to stop.

Sure, a catcher's defense is probably most important during the final innings of a close game. But Chavez isn't terrible behind the plate.

Anything we can do to minimize the Ausmus effect. Just think: only two years ago, he led off. Wow.

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