With the broken hand of Granderson forcing him to the 15-day DL to start the season, Jim Leyland has reluctantly turned to Edgar Rentaria to fill the leadoff role. According to this mornings Detroit Free Press, Jim is less than enthusiastic about the change. Their are a number of points and statements made within this article that throughly confused me.
The first is confusion over Jim’s unhappiness with the change given that Edgar Rentaria would fill the leadoff role for the Tigers better than Curtis Granderson, while still not the ideal leadoff man. Over the last three years Edgar has had a higher OBP than Curtis Granderson while Curtis has out slugged Edgar each season. Given this I’d rather see them swapped in the lineup after Curtis returns in 3 weeks, though with Jim managing this is highly unlikely.
The second confusing point is that, according to the article, Leyland reiterated that Pudge Rodriguez is likely to continue to leadoff against lefties. I understand that Pudge is hot this spring but this doesn’t make any sense. The entire initial purpose for batting Pudge first when a LHP is on the mound was due to Curtis Granderson’s horrendous OBP against lefties. Edgar does not have this problem and over his career has hit better against lefties.
I know that Jim loves to tinker with the lineup to the point of over-thinking it but I am failing to understand his logic. The below comment certainly didn’t help:
“Renteria is not a huge, huge RBI guy,” Leyland said. “But he’s one of the best in baseball at knocking in huge RBIs.”
Maybe he’s been spending too much time with Dusty Baker in the Grapefruit League. I hope one consolation for Jim is that while Edgar would no longer be in a prime RBI slot he will now be in a position to score even more runs. Something I’m sure Leyland and Baker can both agree on.