Valentine's thoughts on composing lineups

Valentine's thoughts on composing lineups
March 4, 2012, 6:43 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The composition of lineups is an endlessly fascinating topic for many -- new manager Bobby Valentine included.

In his Sunday morning pre-game meeting with the media, Valentine was asked about his philosophy and thoughts on putting together a lineup.

Here are some highlights:

On whether Dustin Pedroia, slated to hit leadoff Sunday, might hit there during the season: "Depending on who else is around there, yeah.''

Valentine likes the idea of a righthanded hitter hitting first, followed by a lefthanded hitter.

"I would think if you polled 100 guys,'' he said, ''and they wanted a guy leading off the inning and have the second batter batting, most of them would want a lefthanded (hitter) batting if the first guy got on. If he hits a double, it's a lot easier for him to advance him to third; if he hits a single, he hits with a hole (on the right side).''

On the importance of alternating lefty and righty hitters, so as to make the opposing manager have a tougher time with late-inning matchups.

"It's a thought. We don't do that with righthanders and say, 'God forbid I ever have two righthanders in a row.' So it's not necessarily a reason.

"Now, if there's a platoon differential -- and a lot of times there is, more so on the left side because there's some lefthanded specialists -- you don't like to give the other (manager) an advantage in thinking. It's not necessarily an advantage in strategy; it's just one less thought he has to make.' ''

On how he came to believe that it was good to mix in different lineups.

"I think (my thinking) has evolved. It was a combination of things. One, I would start getting more information, where I would realize that some lineups probably work better against some pitchers. Some lineups probably work better against different bullpens. Some lineups cannot be together all year and the last thing you ever want a pitcher to think when he goes out on the mound is that he's pitching with something less than the best lineup behind him. That's all part of team-building, I think.

"Knowing that a lineup is going to change 100 times in a season, if the only time a team thinks it's going to win is when their lineup's out on the field, then there's going to be a lot of games they're going to take the field where they think they don't have to win. It creates a bad mentality, I think, to think that you have one lineup and that lineup is the one that wins. I think it's a Little League mentality that should not exist at the highest level of baseball.

"I just don't think it's part and parcel to (success in the major leagues). It's a wonderful talk show topic, the lineup. Then you go through the St. Louis Cardinals run to the World Series and you see in the playoffs and the World Series, they might have used the same lineup twice.''

On facing resistance from players when he changes lineup frequently.

"I had Mike Piazza, who said, 'I only hit third. It's the only way I can be successful.' So he's going to the Hall of Fame because of what he did with the Mets hitting fourth. So I get all that stuff.

"I think that's a work in progress. Some guys have said, 'Hit my anywhere; I don't care.' Then when I walk out, I see that their fingers were crossed.''

On his general spring thoughts about makeup of the Red Sox lineup:

"I don't have a good feel for it (yet). I think it's such a talented team that it seems like they can score a lot of runs a lot of ways. The only thing I think about a lineup is that I want to have a chance to score every inning and make it close to an equal chance.''