OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 22: Josh Wilson #12 of the Texas Ranger is congratulated by manager Ron Washington #38 (L) after Wilson scored the go ahead run in the top of the ninth inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum on April 22, 2014 in Oakland, California. The Rangers won the game 5-4. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The Texas Rangers' lineup has looked a bit different the last couple of days. And give manager Ron Washington credit for surprising folks and going against his loyal-to-a-fault reputation by dropping a struggling Elvis Andrus from second in the order to ninth (or eighth in a National League park).
But we're not really sure what Washington is thinking by replacing Andrus with a platoon of guys who shouldn't even be in the major leagues. Josh Wilson? Dan Robertson? Let me guess what's next, Donnie Murphy?
Washington's thought is to put a "bat-handler" or "situational hitter" in the 2-hole, so that person can bunt Shin-Soo Choo up a base after Choo gets on, which he always does. That's such a flawed strategy.
The second hitter in a lineup is supposed to be one of the best hitters on the team, as is the 3-hole hitter.
Logical candidates to replace Andrus for the time being while he finds his groove and gets comfortable again include guys like Leonys Martin and Alex Rios, who have been two of the more consistent hitters in the Rangers' lineup this year. Both have the speed Washington likes in that spot. So why not?
“I don’t think the way they attack Fielder and Beltre is ever going to change,” Washington said in The Dallas Morning News. “It doesn’t matter whether there are men on the bag or not. That part is not going to change. And now, if you move Rios from the fifth hole, where he is most comfortable, to the second hole, you don’t know what you are going to get. It could backfire on you
“To me, you want to leave guys where they are comfortable,” Washington added. “I think that makes for more cohesiveness. There are times when you have to do some shuffling, sure, but we are just going to have to wait on the guys who are supposed to carry the load.”
He has a point there. Over the course of his career, Rios has hit best in the 5-hole. But what can it hurt to give the move a try? Sure, it would hurt the back end of the lineup, but it sure would help the top and maybe increase Choo's chances of scoring early in games after he gets on base, which again, he always does.