Saturday, April 17, 2004

Lonely at the Top? | Larry Bowa's desperate insertion of an overmatched Jimmy Rollins at the top of the Phillies lineup may have lasted all of two games. Rollins was hitless in four at-bats both Thursday and Friday, and today Marlon Byrd was back in the leadoff spot, with Tomas Perez getting the start at shortstop and hitting seventh.

Rollins is what he is, an unfortunately free-swinging 5-8 shortstop with a penchant for swinging from the heels. He has some pop when he makes contact, but strikes out way, way, way too much for a guy with his speed. Really, his nickname, J-Roll, should be changed to K-Roll. For the past couple of springs Rollins has gone to Southern California to be tutored by Tony Gwynn, and he returns pledging to morph into a slap hitter able to take advantage of his swiftness. If the brutally awful bunt he laid down Thursday is any indication -- it reached the front of the pitcher's mound in about half a second -- Gwynn stole the Phils' money.

For the record, Byrd, like Rollins, is off to an awful start, though the historical data favors Marlon leading off. Regardless, the Phillies blogosphere has featured almost as much criticism of Bowa for jumping back on the K-Roll bandwagon as for permitting Doug Glanville instead of Chase Utley to occupy a spot on the Phils' bench. The news even inspired a statistically supported dressing-down from the well regarded baseball blog Mike's Baseball Rants, which took time out from lobbing hand grenades at Joe Morgan to decry the move:

As if the Ides of April weren't bad enough already with the attendant mad dash to file your taxes, Larry Bowa felt compelled to add to your burden, at least if you're a Phillies fan. Bowa is moving Jimmy Rollins back to the top of the order with erstwhile leadoff hitter Marlon Byrd moving down to the seven spot. Resumes for the Phils' managerial job are starting to pour in as we speak (type?).

I predicted that if Bowa returneth to J-Roll, then he would be canneth by May 1. The way that the Phils are playing, I see no reason to change that prediction. Bowa had been too quiet. The last change to the lineup had been to rotate the 3-4-5 spots to move Bobby Abreu back to the number three hole in the 4-1 loss to Cincinnati in the home opener Monday. Abreu did homer, but the Phils did little else against redoubtable Red pitcher Paul Wilson. Rollins had lead off against Darren Oliver on Saturday, but now takes over officially, whatever that means.

It'll be interesting to see where Rollins bats in tomorrow's lineup.


Post a Comment

<< Home