Pirates again?

DUNEDIN, Fla. – It feels like Groundhog Day around here. Two home games in the past seven days and only Pittsburgh as the visitors. But, hey, the sun is out, there’s only a handful of clouds in the sky and there’s no long drive home when this game is over.

Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi held court for roughly 15 minutes with us scribes before the game, discussing a wide variety of topics: the fifth spot, left field, manager John Gibbons only being signed through this year, thoughts about Casey Janssen, the upcoming season and B.J. Ryan. I’ll be throwing together a few short items for the Web site on the scrum, and I’ll put some of what I don’t use on here after the game.

Until then, you’ll just have to stay on the edge of your seat (honestly, none of it was earth-shattering news) and be content with today’s lineups:

PITTSBURGH (5-11) at TORONTO (5-11)
at 10:05 p.m. ET at Knology Park

PIRATES
Nyjer Morgan, CF
Andrew McCutchen, LF
Chris Gomez, 1B
Xavier Nady, RF
Ronny Paulino, DH
Neil Walker, 3B
Brian Bixler, SS
Raul Chavez, CF
Josh Wilson, 2B

PITCHING: RHP Ian Snell

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, SS
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Scott Rolen, 3B
Frank Thomas, DH
Matt Stairs, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Gregg Zaun, C

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay

What do you guys think about the Jays’ lineup today? I have a feeling that could potentially be a preview of Opening Day’s order. Gibbons seems to like Rios-Wells in the Nos. 2-3 spots, and he’s talked about using Stairs ahead of Overbay in the Nos. 6-7 holes. Gibby also hasn’t been committed to using Thomas as the cleanup hitter, meaning he could slip to fifth easily.

More later…

7 Comments

If this is a kind of “preview” of the opening day lineup, I think it’s interesting that Gibbons’ is thinking of batting his lefties consecutively. Wouldn’t that make it easier for opposing managers to simply drop in their lefty specialist when those guys are due up?

Also, I’m surprised that Rios might be the #2, considering his power numbers. I thought Rolen might work in that spot because he hits both lefties and righties well.

I dunno. Just my thoughts….

HEM: True, but keep in mind that Overbay bucks the traditional trend. He’s a better career hitter vs. LHP than righties.
~JB

The more I think about it the more I would like to see Hill put in the two hole while sliding everyone down a notch. Rios is the best hitter and best hitters hit third. Wells if back to his old self is a good cleanup guy plus you wouldn’t want to hide his baserunning skills behind Thomas. Wells is easlily flip flopped with Rolen and if Thomas doesn’t pick it up early this year you can bench him for Stairs while improving your D in left with Johnson full time.

Hill is ready to be a two hole guy

I think JOhnson is doing better than Stewart this spring in batting…with that Johnson should definately win the job at Rf…not only is he batting better but he has better defense too and has more of a hustle, i would consider that his speed might exceed Stewarts too since Stewart is no longer in his prime years…

It looks like everyone has beat me to the punch. I don’t like the lefties back to back, even if O-bay’s numbers are a little better against lefties. Also, I agree with rmatty – Hill has got to be a number 2 guy. He is so consistent it’s crazy. The question then is can you flip-flop Hill/O-Bay in the number 2 slot depending on if it’s a lefty/righty starter without messing with their rhythm. As much as I like Wells, I don’t think he should be our #3 hitter anymore. Rios has surpassed him offensively. Finally, as a casual observer this spring, I can’t say that I’ve noticed much of a difference between Stewy or RJ, so my preference would be to go with Reed for his defense, but either should bat 9th to take advantage of their speed as the order flips around.

My lineup would be.

ESK.

HILL

RIOS

V.W.

THOMAS

ROLEN

OVERBAY

R.J./STAIRS

ZAUN.

I don’t think Hill is suited for the two-hole. In 2007, he didn’t display any of the necessary skills of a two-hole hitter: speed, on-base skills, and contact skills. His OBP in 2007 was only .333, while he whiffed ******** 102 times (and we all know Hill isn’t fast). Another thing of interest is that he grounded into double play 21 times, the ultimate rally killer.

Hill for some reason changed his approach at the plate in 2007, trading contact for power (he was a great contact guy in 2006). Hill needs to show that his on-base and contact skills aren’t lost because of his new-found power, to be able to fit into the two-hole.

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