An interesting (and somewhat odd) suggestion seemed to come out of the postgame press chatter with the Phillies players and coaches following Saturday night's Game 1 loss to the San Francisco Giants: batting Jimmy Rollins at leadoff.
Count me in for and I-don't-get-it vote. How exactly does putting the team's least consistent and least productive hitter atop the order help right a lineup?
Rollins is 1-for-15 in the postseason, he went hitless (with three strikeouts) in Saturday's 4-3 defeat and his offense has been on a steady decline since winning MVP honors in 2007. Oh, he also has a right hamstring that may or may not be close to 100 percent (he won't say), so it's likely he can't run at 100 percent.
So, other than the "change of scenery" argument, I'm not seeing the point of that move.
Here's what's more likely (not because it's the right move, but because it's me getting in Charlie Manuel's brain): flipping Chase Utley and Placido Polanco in the order.
Let's get this out of the way first: Utley can hit lefties. We understand that this move, when looking at splits, might not make a ton of sense from the lefty pitcher standpoint.
But throughout the year, a year when the offense has been lethargic more often than not, Manuel has tinkered with the second and third spots in the order, flipping Utley with Polly to break up the Utley-Ryan Howard, back-to-back-lefties spot in the heart of the order.
The firs time Manuel made the Utley-Polanco move was on June 15 at Yankee Stadium. The Phils scored three runs off (lefty) CC Sabathia in the game's first four innings... but lost 8-3.
Manuel made the Utley-Polly move again in the last game of the same series. Against (lefty) Andy Pettitte, the Phils struck first, with three runs in the first five innings, en route to a 7-1 win.
The Phils entered Yankee Stadium in the worst stretch of the season - having lost 16 of 23 - and their offense was the guilty party. They had scored three runs or less in 18 of those 23 games, and had been shut out in six of those games.
The offense woke up enough to take two of three from the Yankees. Whether the Utley-Polanco move was a major factor can be debated (Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick were probably more responsible for the Phils taking 2 of 3 from the Yanks).
But the point here is Manuel has made the Utley-Polanco move before when his team is struggling and a left-hander is on the mound.
Although both hitters missed a good chunk of the middle of the season, including not long after the Yankees series, Manuel used the Utley-Polanco switch six more times in 2010. Th results? A mixed bag: the Phils went 3-3 in those six games, averaging 3 runs per game.
The first time Manuel made the Utley-Polly move since the Yankees series? On Aug. 17, the first day Utley returned from the DL, against the San Francisco Giants.
The Phils battered (lefty) Barry Zito and San Fran that night 9-3.
Also worthy of taking note: the Phils faced Sanchez in that same series, managing just one run on two hits in eight innings. The lineup that night, when Ryan Howard was on the DL, was: Rollins-Vic-Polly-Utley-Werth-Sweeney-Ibanez-Ruiz-Hamels.
I don't have a crystal ball, but if I were hedging my bets, I think I would place my chips on Charlie flipping Polanco and Utley instead of moving Rollins back to the top. Of course, he could also do both.
Here's one man's guess on the lineup vs. San Fran lefty Jonathan Sanchez for Game 2:
1. Shane Victorino, CF
2. Chase Utley, 2B
3. Placido Polanco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Jayson Werth, RF
6. Jimmy Rollins, SS
7. Raul Ibanez, LF
8. Carlos Ruiz, C
9. Roy Oswalt, P
Also of note concerning the struggling Rollins: he is 1-for-16 (.063) with 4 strikeouts and no walks in his career vs. Sanchez.