Angels' lineup built to score runs

Originally Published: February 25, 2005
By Jerry Crasnick | ESPN Insider
TEMPE, Ariz. -- A great baseball lineup, like an ensemble acting cast, is a mix of disparate parts that mesh into a seamless and efficient whole. Jeff Goldblum was every bit as integral to "The Big Chill" as William Hurt, and "Cheers" wouldn't have been "Cheers" without Cliff Clavin and his white cotton socks and cheesy Boston accent.

In baseball, as in Hollywood, typecasting abounds. The leadoff man, we're told, should be a pesky, Brett Butler type who reaches base at a .400 clip and lives to annoy pitchers by dancing off the bag. The No. 2 man should be selfless enough to work a count and strong enough to drive the ball into the gap. A team's best all-around hitter and resident OPS machine bats third, and the cleanup hitter should have Ted Kluszewski forearms and make opposing pitchers quake as he knocks the dirt clods from his spikes.

And so it goes, all the way through the No. 9 spot in the order.

But unless you're Bob Howsam assembling the Big Red Machine teams in the 1970s, prototypes aren't so easy to find. Most general managers figure it's their job to do the best they can to approximate the ideal within the framework of a budget, then rely on the manager to make the pieces fit.

"If you're looking for a leadoff hitter, you can't just pick up the phone and call Florida and ask if they'll talk to you about Juan Pierre," said Bill Stoneman, general manager of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. "You can't construct a lineup the same way rotisserie guys construct it. The reality is that business isn't done that easily."

In Tempe, spring training home of the Angels, Stoneman has assembled a pretty fair collection of hitters for the 2005 season. Now it falls to manager Mike Scioscia to tap their scoring potential to the utmost. As Scioscia knows from experience, things don't always work out according to plan.

Jerry Crasnick

ESPN Senior Writer