The Arizona Diamondbacks have held full-squad workouts for less than a week so clearly the media has been remiss in asking manager Kirk Gibson if he has settled on what his batting order and line up will be for the season.
Gibson managed the question similar to how he does most questions. It starts with an icy stare then a brief comment then a challenge to those who asked the question.
Gibson is in an interesting position. He is perhaps the most “old school” manager on the planet. He focuses on the intangibles such as clubhouse chemistry and playing the game the right way. He is no-nonsense and can be rather intimidating at times.
When he played it was an era where line-ups were set and rarely deviated from unless there was an injury or doubleheader. Players knew exactly where they were being slotted and had predefined roles.
Today’s game is substantially different than it was then. I don’t mean the rules or how the players play the game. There are a few changes in those areas but for the most part it is the same game as it was when Honus Wagner or Babe Ruth played.
But the approach to the game is substantially different. What started out as being described as Money Ball using statistics as a decision maker has morphed into a full blown science of playing the game by the numbers.
Perhaps the team that most personifies this is the Tampa Bay Rays. Manager Joe Maddon employs statistics not only to position players based on hitting spray charts but he also tinkers with his line-up to try and gain any advantage he can. During the 2013 season Maddon used an astounding 147 different line-ups in a 162-game schedule.
Diamondbacks fans assume that their team is likewise volatile when it comes to changing line-ups. The team did finish tied for seventh place in using the most different line-ups during the season. While that does seem like a lot and there were more than a few comments from fans about how they thought Gibson was tinkering too much with the batting order; most of the changes were a result of the rash of injuries that befell the team in 2013.
Gibson sounded like he would prefer to have a set line-up he could pencil in every day but clearly today was not the day to ask him what that line-up would be. Instead he turned it around and challenged the writers to tell him what the line-up should be.
Since we live in a democracy and this blog is living proof that each of us can pretend we are a writer I think that challenge is given to us too. So if you had an opportunity to tell Gibson what the batting order should be; what would you pencil into the line-up card?
Gibson’s only request was that you had to have a strong enough confidence in your line-up card to sign your name to the top so he could either give credit or let the other writers question the appropriate person when that line-up didn’t work out.
Now’s your chance to be manager, who will step up and give us a line-up?