Late April on the Major League Baseball front is the time when teams, successful or not, begin to fine-tune their lineups.
So, here's a few modest proposals for Major League teams to consider.
Take Micah Owings off the mound and install him as an everyday player.
Holy Babe Ruth, the kid can crush the ball.
In 126 Major League at-bats, Owings is hitting .325 with 19 extra-base hits and 23 RBI.
One problem is that the only place that the Reds could stash Owings, all six-foot-five and 225 pounds of him, is at first base. However, Joey Votto occupies that position and he'll likely be there for the next 10 years or so.
Another drawback to this proposal is that Owings still has plenty of upside as a starting pitcher.
Pull the plug on the five-outfielder platoon experiment.
The strategy isn't doing Carlos Gomez, Michael Cuddyer or Delmon Young any good. They're all struggling at the plate, although Young is beginning to show signs of breaking out of his early-season slump with a five-for-14 streak in his past four games.
The point here is that in moving the members of the above-mentioned trio in and out of the lineup in the attempt to ensure that each of them gets adequate playing time, Twins' manager Ron Gardenhire is preventing them all from achieving any semblance of offensive rhythm.
The Twins' outfield picture could get even more muddled when Joe Mauer returns to the lineup. If the All-Star catcher can't squat behind the plate as often as before, he'll be forced to move to the designated hitter role, displacing the torrid-hitting Jason Kubel, and what then?
Drop Ian Kinsler to either the three- or four-hole in the batting order.
Kinsler is an offensive whirlwind who hits for average and power. He is a run-producing machine, and he can be of even more use to the Rangers hitting in one of these two berths where RBI opportunities are more plentiful. His presence at No. 3 or No.4 would also offer protection to other hitters in the Texas lineup.
Not that the Rangers need any help in scoring. In 18 games they're averaging a shade over six runs. But it makes just as much sense as having Michael Young in the three-hole and Andrew Jones batting clean-up.
Hold a fire sale and get younger.
The Astros field the oldest lineup in the majors. Which wouldn't be so bad if their minor league pipeline hadn't been dismantled by a rash of ill-advised signings of free agents in their 30s.
The Astros are off to their worst season start in more than two decades. It makes sense to sell off some aging veterans to pennant contenders in exchange for some prospects.
Don't expect Trevor Hoffman to be your bullpen savior when he comes off the disabled list. Be ready to execute Plan B immediately.
The Major League's all-time saves leader is a class act, but at age 41, is it reasonable to expect that Hoffman has still retained most of his magic?
His ERA jumped from 2.98 in 2007 to 3.77 in 2008, the second-highest mark of his career. It may be an aberration or a sign that Father Time is finally catching up to the future Hall of Famer.
Hoffman may still thrive if the Brewers employ a bullpen by commitee, instead of relying on him as the primary closer.
Consider moving Clayton Richard back into the starting rotation in place of Jose Contreras.
The 25-year-old lefty, who has amassed an ERA of 4.76 ERA in eight games this season as a member of the bullpen, enjoyed the spotlight as a starter once or twice in 2008. He surely offers more upside currently than 37-year-old Jose Contreras (0-3, 6.75 ERA), whose fractured psyche is in need of repair as much as his pitching mechanics.
Los Angeles Angels or any other team desperately in need of starting pitching.
Jose Lima, Hideki Irabu, Pedro Martinez, Mark Mulder, Paul Byrd and Ryan Drese are among the ranks of starters looking for a spot on a Major League club.
Just say no.
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