Two Takes On Second Base: Marlins And Dee Gordon
My take? Don’t start him Thursday.
Maybe that’s partial wishful thinking on my part, but I think you make him play cheerleader for a game. He can pinch run or pinch hit late, obviously go in if an injury occurs, but don’t pencil him in on that lineup card.
After all, he is an awesome cheerleader. From last year’s postgame dunks, to every instance of him chest pounding, clapping, and yelling, his enthusiasm is infectious and his clubhouse presence is one of his strengths as a ballplayer. Sure, he’s spent the last 80 games just watching. But he hasn’t spent the last 80 games just watching beside his team. Get behind them, support them, fire them up.
Besides, Jose is pitching and Adam Wainwright isn’t. You can afford to go with what you’ve been using to this point, and provide an extra lesson to Gordon and the rest of the Marlins.
Call to the Pen
Beyond Game One though, it gets trickier. On the one hand, he can’t play in the playoffs. On the other, that’s a serious case of putting the cart before the horse. By virtue of defense alone, he can make the Marlins better right now. And while some teams around the league are considering either outright selling or not buying because they “probably won’t win the World Series”, that’s one particular First World problem the Marlins don’t have.
He should play often, but not necessarily regularly, and not always leadoff.
To me, the best course of action would be to treat him like an uber-Ichiro. Mix him in at both second and short, and give him four starts a week. The reason for this is two-fold. One, it ensures a steady flow of at bats for the players that can play in October. Secondly though, and more importantly, it keeps Gordon fresh. Remember, the purported reason for his juicing in the first place was to help him stay fresh and healthy. The necessity of providing at-bats to playoff eligible players allows for the luxury of regular rest days. Beyond that, he’s on late game replacement and pinch running specialist duty. Make him a secret weapon.
As for hitting leadoff? Trickier. For his career, he’s been by far at his most productive when setting the table. Conversely, Dietrich and Realmuto have not only been extremely productive at other spots in the lineup, but in some instances have actually been more so. Realmuto especially has seemed to almost thrive on his versatility this season. Plus, in both cases, the power difference is immense, and power plays much more effectively lower in the order.
At the end of the day, eventually, Gordon should get the opportunity to play leadoff again- provided it doesn’t change the rest of the batting order. Martin Prado, Christian Yelich, even Adeiny Hechavarria…leave em be. Gordon bats first, or he bats seventh, that’s it. The team that got the Marlins this far, and the only team that can take the Marlins as far as they want to go, is the one without Gordon. Don’t rock the boat now, just do everything you can to help it stay on course.
If handled the right way, that’s something Flash can do.