DETROIT (97.1 The Ticket) It’s become a near blood sport to analyze Jim Leyland’s lineups on a daily basis. Where is Ryan Raburn hitting? Why is Ryan Raburn hitting SIXTH? Where is Brennan Boesch hitting? Why is Brennan Boesch hitting SECOND?
On Wednesday, as Wojo and I were getting ready to start our show, we noticed that the Tigers lineup against the Mariners did NOT include Andy Dirks. It turns out that Dirks was nursing a bad hamstring and Leyland didn’t want to take any chances on a cool night in Seattle. But that didn’t stop us from being irrational and reactionary.
I quickly went to Twitter and tried to start the #FreeDirks movement. This is a total rip off from San Francisco Giants fans who have tried to use the #FreeBelt movement to get young lefty Brandon Belt into the lineup every day. Don’t worry about the matchups. Don’t worry about the lefty-lefty matchup. Don’t even worry about position on the field. It doesn’t matter. When the lineup is posted from this point forward, Dirks should be in it. Every night.
Guys like Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson know that they’ll play every night. Alex Avila knows it too. Sure, they all get a night off occasionally, especially Avila given his position. But when the season is over, assuming injuries don’t play a role, all those guys will play in 150 games or so. That’s what winning teams do. My argument is that Dirks should now be added to that list. Boesch, Raburn, Delmon Young and Don Kelly can battle for playing time and for starts. Not Dirks.
Perhaps you don’t think that Dirks deserves to get there yet, that the sample size is too small. Fine. But then let me ask you this – who of that other group (Raburn et al) deserves it more? The answer is nobody.
The Tigers offense has been a study in struggles all season long which has stunned most baseball observers. It’s up to Leyland and hitting coach Lloyd McClendon to try to spark things – and playing Dirks every day is certainly one way to start. Dirks has started 16 of the Tigers 31 games this season. He’s failed to get a hit in THREE of those starts. Boesch has made thirty starts this year and failed to get a hit in TEN.
Tell me which guy you want starting everyday.
Things may change. He may slump. Boesch may heat up. But for now, this is as big of a no-brainer as rolling out Justin Verlander every fifth day. Dirks is the man.
Every. Single. Day.