Cito is, and always has been a "roles guy." I touched on this at the end of last year, admitting that while I'm not 100% comfortable with his "go get'em tiger!" attitude, the results can be difficult to argue.
Ahhh, results. Presumably they're what keeps the batting order set in stone. Scoots is off to a good start, leave him in there to ride it out. Adam Lind and Cito are totes BFF, why let his mind wander in the field. Travis Snider is a rookie that must be brought along slowly, so on the bench he'll sit against lefties. I get it. But why not shake up the order, just to see what happens? Maybe let Wells DH for a day, maybe slot the hot bat of Lind between Wells and Rios?
This isn't new for Cito, who's WAMCO days are the stuff of legend. Thanks to Baseball Reference, I learned how frighteningly accurate the legend is. I looked a few successful teams: Cito's WS Champion teams, the 116 win Mariners under old school Lou, the 2002 Yankees that avoided injury and won 103 games with the petrified Joe Torre growing into the bench. For the sake of bludgeoning home my point, I looked at Cito's 1995/1996 Blue Jays teams that lost far more often than they won. How often did they use the same lineup? How many times did they use a given lineup? The results are quite something.
|Team||Total Batting Orders||Most Frequent Lineup Uses||2nd Most Frequent Lineup Uses||3rd Most Frequent Lineup Uses|
|1992 Blue Jays (96-66)||58||16||15||15|
|1993 Blue Jays (95-67)||71||20||13||12|
|2001 Mariners (116-46)||115||5||4||4|
|2002 Yankees (103-58)||108||9||6||6|
|1995 Blue Jays (56-88)||82||20||9||7|
To throw fuel on a fire of my own creation; the only difference between Cito's A lineup in 1992 and his B lineup is Manny Lee in place of Alfredo Griffin. 31 games with a nearly identical lineup! Cito is obviously a man you can set your watch by. This little chart proves little, other than you can win with the same lineup and you can win with a variety of lineups. Though trotting the same 9 guys in the same order 20 times when you're losing 2 out of 3 games seems counterintuitive.
But why slavishly adhere to "sending the right message" when they're coming out so mixed? If I'm Adam Lind (or his agent, more accurately), I'm officially concerned with my client's long-term earning potential. A 25 year old DH that wouldn't be classed as a "bad body" is incapable of playing the field? In today's holistic baseball society, that won't fly. Not wanting to mess with a hitter's hot streak only applies when the hitter isn't a pet project? Are we really to believe these professional athletes, who have been playing baseball their entire lives, can't cope with the uncertainly of their position in the batting order? So much so that it effects their performance on the field? I should hope not.
Tinfoil Hat Update: After digging around a bit more on BR, I've come up with a conspiracy theory worthy of the Patrick Ewing Draft Lottery. Cito's best season as a player came in 1970, when he hit 29 home runs with an OPS+ of 144. That season Cito hit from the number 3 spot 133 times! He never again approached that level of power nor that consistency in the lineup. He blames never matching his career season on a constantly moving lineup! Conspiracy! Playoffs!! Mental Health Issues!