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1.20.2006

Barry on the Deuce 

The Chron's Henry Schulman caught Felipe Alou musing about big changes in the Giants' batting lineup: perhaps he'll bat Barry Bonds second this year.

It's not a new idea; the higher up one is in the batting order, the better the chance for an extra at-bat per game. Since Barry will be coming out early for defensive considerations, better to get him that extra at-bat as soon as possible. Why not hit him leadoff?

There's one snag: no one's asked Barry yet, and as we all know, whatever Barry wants, Barry gets. Let's assume for a moment he says yes. Here's a possible lineup:

ss Vizquel
lf Bonds
cf Winn
rf Alou
2b Durham
1b Swee/kro
3b Feliz
c Matheny

But in the same article, Felipe hesitates to commit Winn to the 3-hole because he hit so well from the leadoff spot last year. So:

cf Winn
lf Bonds
2b Durham
rf Alou
1b Swee/kro
3b Feliz
c Matheny
ss Vizquel

The problems with Barry batting second: It's difficult to imagine anyone except Moises protecting him adequately. And batting Bonds/Alou second and third leaves vast empty spaces in the back half of the batting order. A 6-7-8 of Feliz-Vizquel-Matheny has a particularly unsavory blend of no one on base and not enough power.

When Vizquel is batting lefty, his best spot is #2, with either Durham or Winn leading off. The Giants need high OBPs in front of Bonds. If I ran the zoo, I'd ask Barry to compromise and slide up one spot to third:

cf Winn
ss Vizquel
lf Bonds
rf Alou
2b Durham
1b Sweeney
3b Feliz
c Matheny

That leaves the grim question of what to do with Omar when a lefty pitcher starts. His on-base percentage, a quite reasonable .357 when he hits from the left side (2003-2005), takes a nosedive when he switches sides (.306). Unfortunately, Deivi Cruz is no longer a viable platoon option against lefties because he plays for St. Louis. New backup SS Jose Vizcaino, as Professor Geoffrey Spicoli once described in an American History lecture before his distinguished colleagues, is totally bogus. His special brand of bogosity is even more acute than Omar's from the right-hand batter's box. Not only has Vizcaino become a horrible hitter in his late years, he was never a good hitter to begin with. His only redeeming feature, if you squint, is that every so often he posts a decent on-base percentage, but then he tunnels back below the OBP Mendoza line and lies dormant for several more years. He should go play for the Aguadilla Brood X Cicadas. The man should not be allowed near wood.

And why exactly did the Giants not pursue Rich Aurilia as their backup infielder? As noted and discussed here, the answer doesn't quite add up:

We had bona fide interest in Richie, but unfortunately his signing would have cost us another draft pick and we felt with the picks we lost last year, and the two we've already lost this year, that it was time to hold onto our picks.

A nice thought, but when has losing a draft pick ever stopped Sabean? And this would actually have been a real upgrade, considering they settled for Vizcaino.

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