Ugh, the Astros did it again. They made me feel bad all over again for losing Carlos Beltran in the winter of 2004. Joe In Birmingham made a good point that Beltran was never serious about signing with Houston. That may be so, but I think it was more about his agent, Scott Boras, not wanting to sign in Houston. If the Astros had offered him a comparable deal to the Mets, he would have been patrolling MMP's center field lo these many years.
But, the past is the past. I'd talk about Matt Lindstrom's disastrous ninth inning here, but I feel it will get overblown by everyone else. The dude is struggling big-time right now and I wonder if the Astros will put him on the DL soon just to get his head right and rest his back.
No, the bigger issue I want to talk about is lineup construction. Stephen does a wonderful job of talking about how to optimize the lineup via THE BOOK and linear weight and a whole bunch of stuff I only understand fuzzily. Instead, I want to be simple in my question. Why the heck aren't our three best hitters batting 3-4-5? Or 2-3-4 for that matter?
Hunter Pence, Chris Johnson and Brett Wallace should be the center of the batting order. Those are the three biggest offensive weapons on the team. Johnson and Pence are ridiculously locked in right now and were two of the only guys hitting bullets off Jon Niese in this one. Wallace looked good at the plate, showing a maturity with that double down the third base line as they shifted the defense on him. That's what you want out of middle of the order guys.
The only reason you're not doing this is because of Carlos Lee. Slow, old Carlos Lee. He who doesn't walk nor strike out. That's who you stick in the cleanup spot constantly. Why not drop him to sixth? If you have to play him because of that contract, why not make a productive lineup? As a sixth hitter, Carlos isn't bad. He has the right mix of power and contact skills to be an asset there. As a cleanup batter after Pence? He's a liability.
So, for all that's holy Brad Mills, go with the kids. If I have to watch one more off-balance swing or grounder from El Bufalo after Pence hits a bullet into the outfield, I'm gonna scream. (and yes, I remember Lee won that game on Friday. That's one game and doesn't predict future results).
Alas, I'm sure this won't come up for the rest of the season. But, I want to go on record as saying this is the lineup that should be working. Bourn, Kepp, Pence, CJ and Wallace, that's change I can get behind.