As the designated keeper of the lineup card, I think pretty much everyone is in agreement that Terry Collins has a tendency to zig when others would zag. I won’t go through the entire ponderous litany of questionable decisions he’s made in the past but will instead focus on what’s facing him now.
Remember the “If you don’t hit, you sit” line that was fed to us quite some time ago? The mirror image of that would be, “If you do hit you don’t sit” yet that’s not been the case. After clubbing five home runs in less than a week and hitting close to .300 for 6 weeks Wilmer Flores is apparently suffering from some malady that’s rendered him invisible. Nevermind that the Skipper declared publicly that the promotion of Jose Reyes meant sharing time at 3B. The last time I looked Jose Reyes was hitting a robust .226, so there’s a certain logic to…ummm…no there is not.
We will all be experiencing a similar sense of déjà vu but this time starring former Gold Glover Juan Lagares. Since being inserted into the lineup regularly due to Yoenis Cespedes’ balky calf, he’s hit .333. That’s a really nice four game run, but bear in mind that even with that surge he’s hitting a paltry .207 for the month of July.
With the promotion of Michael Conforto and the departure of Brandon Nimmo we will see how the manager chooses to juggle his outfield options.
Option Number One:
Play Cespedes in LF, shift Curtis Granderson to CF and insert Conforto in RF. Call this the maximum offense option. If Conforto has indeed rediscovered his swing and his confidence, he’s surely a middle-of-the-order threat. The down side would seem to be Granderson’s rag arm. While the throws from CF are shorter than the across-the-diamond throws from RF, this liability will get exposed more often. Use Juan Lagares as a late inning defensive replacement, pinch hitter and/or pinch runner.
Option Number Two:
Status quo. Conforto returns to LF, Cespedes goes back to CF and Granderson remains in RF. The problem here, of course, is Cespedes vocalizing that he thinks the strain on his calf is greater in CF than in LF. I don’t foresee this one being implemented since, as Jim Bouton pointed out in Ball Four many years ago, superstar players are higher on the totem pole than are managers.
Option Number Three:
Shift Cespedes to LF. Create a weird platoon of sorts with Juan Lagares playing CF against lefties and Curtis Granderson playing it against righties. Conforto would be in RF against righties and sit against lefties.
I’m the first to admit and actually empathize that Collins is in a no-win situation in the OF. People who value defense will want Juan Lagares out there. People who appreciate small ball will consider his speed and Reyes’ speed to be an essential part of that game.
Others will say you didn’t promote Conforto to sit. They will point to the team’s inability to score runs and demand you put the best bats in the lineup.
There is no perfect solution but I’d opt for number one. I suspect we'll see number three. What do you think?