Thursday, February 08, 2007

Whom Do You Trust: Gurnick or Henson?

Today, Ken Gurnick posted his projected lineup for the Dodgers next year. Gurnick, who covers the Dodgers for mlb.com, slotted the top six players in order as Pierre, Martin, Furcal, Kent, Garciaparra, and Gonzalez.

This seems to contradict reports from LA Times Dodgers beat writer Steve Henson, who published an article yesterday which had manager Grady Little slotting Martin outside the top five:

Little has abandoned an idea he floated during the winter meetings of Furcal batting third, with Pierre leading off and catcher Russell Martin batting second. The reason: He wants veteran outfielder Luis Gonzalez to bat in the No. 5 spot behind Nomar Garciaparra and Jeff Kent.

"When we signed Luis, it changed my thinking," Little said during a lull in the Dodgers' publicity caravan Tuesday at Pasadena City College.

Gonzalez primarily batted third for the Arizona Diamondbacks and last season hit 15 home runs and a career-high 52 doubles.

"I can't see Furcal and Pierre doing anything but batting one-two," Little said. "Which way we go, I can't say right now."

This is a pretty significant difference in lineups. Going with Martin early, as Gurnick speculates, would better leverage the offensive power of Furcal that we saw in the second-half of 2006. That also puts a ton of pressure on Martin, who will be looking to come off an incredible rookie year batting in a very unfamiliar spot, along with learning how to work with new pitchers Schmidt and Wolf. On the other hand, going with the Henson lineup puts more pressure on Gonzalez in the five slot as the backup for Kent. While Martin would be protected further down in the lineup, we would need Gonzo to hit home runs (as he had done prior to 2006), and not just doubles (as he did in 2006).

If it were my call, I would give the pressure to the veteran Gonzalez, at least to start the season, and let Kent, Garciaparra, and Gonzalez try and get one of our two rabbits (Pierre and Furcal) home. I have to think Little, respectful of veterans, agrees. So I'm siding with Henson.

But I suppose this will all work itself out in spring training.

2 comments:

mjw101 said...

I think Gurnick created his proposed lineup before Grady made his statement about the signing of GONZO the great changing his mind. Henson just had the benefit of Grady's new (?) thoughts.

Steve Sax said...

Boy, I'd sure hope so. Given Gurnick posted on 2/8 at 10am, and Grady's thoughts were in the 2/7 morning paper, maybe we should get Ken Gurnick a LA Times subscription. (Or a computer.)