The Phillies have already shown that life without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley will not be pretty. Over two games and 19 innings of offense, the Phillies have scored just two runs.
Charlie Manuel has always been one to tinker with lineups, mostly due to the amount of injuries this team has suffered the last few seasons. Well, now is the time to do something that he hasn't done before, and it would be for the best until the Phils get Howard and Utley back.
The solution? Move Carlos Ruiz to the two-hole in the lineup.
When constructing a lineup, you typically want speedy on-base percentage guys near the top. Obviously, Ruiz does not fit into the "speedy" category, but when runs are going to be so hard to come by, the Phillies need the hitters who get on base the most to come to the plate the most.
Ruiz is just that.
In 2010, Ruiz had a .400 on-base percentage, and he followed that with a .371 on-base percentage last season. Both very high marks in this lineup.
Jimmy Rollins: 2010- .320 2011- .338
Placido Polanco: 2010- .339 2011- .335
Shane Victorino: 2010- .327 2011- .355
"Chooch" is an on-base machine compared to the usual suspects at the top of the lineup. The more times he comes to the plate, the more times he can be on base for Hunter Pence, who is basically all the pop this lineup has at the moment.
My proposed lineup would be this:
1. Jimmy Rollins
Charlie has hit J-Roll third in the first two games, but he has primarily been a leadoff hitter the majority of his career. He is comfortable there, and when he gets on and scores, the Phillies win.
2. Carlos Ruiz
Ruiz does not strike out much, walks a lot, works the count and can hit behind runners. His speed is not optimal here, but I would bet a race between him and Placido Polanco would be pretty close.
3. Shane Victorino
Shane has a little more pop than the current version of Jimmy Rollins and would look at the 3-spot as more of an RBI opportunity than a "move the runners" situation, as Rollins did yesterday in the first inning.
4. Hunter Pence
No other options.
5. Ty Wigginton/Jim Thome Platoon
Wiggy can play some vs. righties as well, but Thome needs ABs with Howard/Utley out of the lineup.
6. John Mayberry
7. Placido Polanco/Ty Wigginton
Play Wiggy at third sometimes when Thome is at first.
8. Freddy Galvis
His glove is sensational and he's making solid contact.
This first one to two months with Howard and Utley missing might be painful for fans to watch. What is more concerning is the strain this might put on the pitching staff.
Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Vance Worley can't possibly think: "I have to throw a shutout to win tonight." As it stands right now, they just might—and the long-term effects on that might see these guys out of gas in August.
So let's move Carlos Ruiz up in the lineup to give the Phillies the best chance to score runs now while Howard and Utley work to get back.