When your local baseball team is a solid 7-3 in their past 10 games, there are usually plenty of positive storylines to write about. And the San Francisco Giants are no exception.
Freddy Sanchez has done nothing but rake since coming off the DL in mid-May. The Giants second baseman has jacked his average up to .371 with an OPS nearing .900.
Leadoff hitter and former journeyman Andres Torres has proved his impressive 2009 numbers were no fluke, as he has posted a .377 on-base percentage and .481 slugging percentage thus far to go along with 11 stolen bases.
All-Star pitcher Matt Cain is currently unhittable, allowing just one earned run in his last three starts, allowing just 10 hits in 25 innings pitched over that span.
Now those are just three examples of Giants players who are currently riding hot streaks.
When you look at the entire roster, there are about five or six more players who are just as on fire as the previous three already mentioned.
But with the players who are going well and the players who are going badly so clearly defined, why does the manager continue to make puzzling lineup change after puzzling lineup change?
Just what goes through Bruce Bochy's mind when he makes up his lineup card?
Making out the order isn't rocket science.
The first six hitters in San Francisco's order should remain the exact same everyday. Torres, Sanchez, Pablo Sandoval, Aubrey Huff, Juan Uribe, and Buster Posey are continually proving worthy of a top-six lineup spot every day they play.
Now, while Pablo Sandoval is struggling with the double plays and not hitting for the accustomed amount of power he has shown in the past, he is still getting his hits.
If Bochy felt it necessary to drop Sandoval down to the sixth spot instead of his usual third spot in the lineup, nobody would raise an eyebrow.
But dropping the team's best hitter and franchise player to the eighth hole? Now that is flat out absurd.
Two games ago, with Sandoval still hitting a respectable .281 (an average that has stayed around that mark for the past couple of weeks), Bochy dropped him down to the eight spot and get this, put the stone-cold Bengie Molina at cleanup!
Molina, who was 1-for-his-last-23 and 4-for-his-last-46, got moved from his accustomed lower-third of the order to cleanup?
For what possible reason?
And then in the fourth inning, Molina was taken out of the ball game as part of a double switch?
Sure, Bochy's claim was that he wanted to get multiple innings out of his first reliever before having to pinch hit for him. Well, Earth to Bochy—you don't have to pinch hit just because the pitcher's spot is coming up and you have already gone to the bullpen.
Had the day's starter Todd Wellemeyer still been in the game, he would have gotten a second at-bat anyway, so "losing" one at-bat with a pitcher hitting wouldn't have been the worst move in the world.
However, with Molina hitting so poorly, it was probably a good move to put backup Eli Whiteside in the game because Whiteside has crushed the heck out of the ball all season with a .567 slugging percentage compared to Molina's putrid mark of .320.
Now for those out there who agreed with the double switch, then once again, I'll ask why hit Molina cleanup?
A player hitting in the cleanup spot should not be producing at a level low enough to be considered as a double switch candidate.
Nothing else needs to be said. Putting Molina at cleanup was an idiotic decision.
So not only does Bochy unfairly punish the most cherished Giants hitter since Bonds by unfairly dropping him to the eight spot, but he compounds that by unfairly rewarding the second coldest bat on the team with cleanup duty.
But that's not all, phenom Buster Posey—who has been red hot since his call up—was lowered to seventh in the order behind newcomer Pat Burrell.
Now prior to this game, Posey had been hitting the ball all over the place from the fifth and sixth spots in the lineup. In other words he was performing like a middle-of-the-order hitter who deserved to be hitting in the middle of the order.
And just because a recently signed veteran with pop gets into the lineup, he is allowed to hit higher in the lineup than Posey?
Currently Burrell isn't a starter for this team and probably won't be unless both Molina and Rowand continue to slump and find reductions in their playing time.
So why does the blistering hot Posey get dropped in the lineup? Posey and Sandoval hitting seventh and eighth? One could argue that by putting together the lineup in this fashion, Bochy had his best two hitters batting in the lowest two spots in the order.
Comparatively that would be like the Los Angeles Dodgers batting James Loney and Andre Ethier seven and eight.
It just doesn't happen and shouldn't happen, but yet with Bochy, it happened.
What makes the fans scratch their heads the most about these weird lineups is that the team is winning. Prior to this game with Posey and Sandoval at the bottom of the order, the Giants were 7-3 in their past 10.
That isn't the time for major lineup changes.
And yet the following game, Bochy continued with a second straight odd configuration with his lineup.
Instead of going back to the crystal clear (what definitely should be the lineup) order with Torres, Sanchez, Sandoval, Huff, Uribe, and Posey as 1-6, Bochy put Molina ahead of Posey and sandwiched the stud rookie between the two worst hitters on the team.
In the seventh spot, Posey had Molina in front of him and Rowand behind him?
Are you kidding me? This isn't the NHL; you don't put a hot hitter in between two cold hitters and hope that his bat will rub off on his teammates. It doesn't work that way. In hockey, putting a hot forward on the same line with two other cold forwards could be a way to snap the cold players out of their slumps.
But this is baseball, and putting Posey between the two worst hitters on the team makes absolutely no sense.
Not only did the move limit Posey's ability to knock in runs, but in all reality it should have limited the pitches that five hitter Juan Uribe got to hit in the game.
While the Pirates oddly pitched to Uribe in the ninth inning (which saw the Giants RBI leader knock in the lead run), conventional wisdom would have been to walk him and face the frozen cold Molina.
Of course, had Bochy put together a conventional lineup, the Giants wouldn't have had to worry about Uribe not getting pitches to hit because the red hot Posey would have been on deck, right?
Not so fast, because the brilliant Bochy had taken Posey out of the game in the eighth inning for a pinch runner...
Posey was taken out of the game in a tie ball game despite getting on base twice in four at-bats and having made an excellent play at first base that saved a run in the second inning.
And he is taken out of the game?
What is this nonsense?
Well, as Giants fans have come to learn, that nonsense is just the curious case of their manager, Bruce Bochy.
Nobody knows why, but the man just has a knack for making awful decisions with the batting order.
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