Matt Wieters will be the Orioles starting catcher this Friday against the Detroit Tigers at Camden Yards… sooo last night’s news. Literally.
For the record, yes, the phone lines did light up last night on The Mob Town Sports Beat around 7:35-ish when Andy MacPhail made his big announcement.
Thyrl and I weren’t even a minute removed from a commercial break when we discussed off-air where we each thought Wieters should hit in the lineup whenever he finally came up. It’s a topic we’ve talked about plenty of times on the air as well.
Thyrl has long been a proponent of putting Wieters in the #2 spot in the order. It makes fine sense. The second spot is where he would have the most protection in the lineup, batting behind Brian Roberts and in front of Adam Jones, whom would then bat third. Essentially, Dave Trembley would slide Wieters in the same spot that Nick Markakis and Adam Jones occupied when they each made their first significant impact, and starting with Jones and Markakis everyone would just be bumped back a spot from the norm.
The more conservative viewpoint would be that the #6 or #7 spot is best for Wieters, where he won’t have as much pressure to be a major run and RBI producer, at least from the immediate get-go, against the likes of Roy Halladay, Josh Beckett, and CC Sabathia.
If Dave Trembley were to happen to ask for my two cents, I’d go with the latter. I just feel like the last thing the team should do is mess with the Roberts-Jones-Markakis trip at the top of the order right now.
For some perspective, here’s where some of baseball’s other most recent phenom-prospects have started in their respective club’s lineups.
In 2004, Joe Mauer appeared for the Twins 35 times behind the plate as a 21-year old. Mauer primarily batted #8 and hit right from the start at a .308 clip and getting on-base at a rate of .369. By his first full season the next year in ’05, he assumed his now familiar third spot in Minnesota’s lineup.
Ryan Braun broke into the bigs with the Brewers and burst on to the scene exactly two years and a four days before Matt Wieters will make his debut. After just two starts at #2 to begin his career, Braun batted third for Milwaukee in their final 113 games of the season and went on to win the National League Rookie of the Year with 37 home runs and 97 RBI’s.
Meanwhile, all-world Tampa By Ray third-basemen Evan Longoria almost split the difference between Mauer and and Braun and hit in the #5 hole for the majority of his ’08 rookie season. Then after a successful late-season stint filling in the clean-up spot for an injured Carlos Pena, Longoria ripped it up with the move up in the order and was promoted to the #3 spot for the playoffs when he blasted 6 home runs for the eventual A.L. Pennant winners. As for this season, the young All-Star has been off the charts in the #3 spot and last year’s 27 HR and 85 RBI totals will pale in comparison to the numbers he’s on pace to put up.