Line 'Em Up

Friday, December 09 2005 @ 12:00 PM EST

Contributed by: Jonny German

It's too soon for another look at the current payroll projection ($78.7M, if you're dying to know), so let's instead turn our attention to how the current Toronto squad would line up against righties and lefties.

Versus Righthanders:

1	Adams	L	SS
2	Cat	L	LF
3	Overbay	L	1B
4	Wells	R	CF
5	Koskie	L	3B
6	Hillen	R	DH
7	Zaun	S	C
8	Rios	R	RF
9	Hudson	S	2B
Personally, I like the looks of this, but I'm an admitted optimist - Most importantly, I think Corey Koskie will bounce back to his something resembling his career line of .277 / .369 / .455. Another issue is that John Gibbons has demonstrated a great affinity for alternating left- and right-swinging batters, so he wouldn't necessarily be inclined to go with the top three I've got here. I'd be happy with it because Reed Johnson frequently replaces Catalanotto late in the game for defensive purposes anyway, so he could break up the string of lefties when the opposition calls in a LOOGY.

The big weakness of this lineup, of course, is the right fielder. If we could count on a major breakout from Rios, or replace him with someone who hits more like a traditional right fielder, and slot this new or improved guy in at #5... then we'd have a lineup very capable of scoring the requisite runs in support of the powerful pitching staff.

Versus Portsiders:

1	Adams	L	SS
2	Johnson	R	LF
3	Overbay	L	1B
4	Wells	R	CF
5	Hillen	R	DH
6	Koskie	L	3B
7	Rios	R	RF
8	Hudson	S	2B
9	Quiroz	R	C
This lineup is considerably weaker, and exposes why Eric Hinske is not long for Toronto. Here's not listed here, because he struggles against lefties. Koskie is here, but he shouldn't be as a guy who also struggles badly against lefties and who should be rested regularly. What you'd like to do is put Hillenbrand at third and have a righthanded hitter at DH. But as long as the bullpen is seven men deep and Hinske is on the team, there's no room for a suitable righthanded hitter on the bench - as it stands, the options would be Gregg Zaun and John McDonald (with Aaron Hill at triple-A).

There is of course the argument that Hinske could get his at-bats as the DH versus righthanders and would produce at a similar level to Hillenbrand. I buy that. But Hillenbrand's ability to play a respectable 3rd base makes him far more valuable to this team than Hinske.

Other possible resolutions:

a) Trade Koskie
b) Go with a 6-man pen to open up a spot for another hitter
c) Outright John McDonald to Syracuse and keep Aaron Hill in Toronto

If I were pulling the strings, I'd definitely go with b) and I'd strongly consider c). Given these, dealing Hillenbrand and keeping Hinske as the DH against righthanders becomes a good possibility.