|He didn't really catch it, it was just a mass hallucination...|
but what the heck, let's keep Ron Swoboda around anyway
We won't know the answer to that for awhile. But we can tell you that the 1944 birth year squad has a log-jam at third base, and they possess the pre-eminent 1-2 starting pitching combo across the entire decade.
Let's look at the roster:
C--Manny Sanguillen, Jose Morales, Ed Kirkpatrick
1B--George Scott, Tony Horton
2B--Tito Fuentes, Denny Doyle
SS--Mark Belanger, Freddy Patek
3B--Graig Nettles, Sal Bando, Doug Rader
OF--Rusty Staub, John Briggs, Paul Blair, Ollie Brown, Del Unser, Pat Kelly, Ron Swoboda
The Red Rooster
There are only thirteen slots filled, however, so Doug could hold himself out as a pinch-hitter. If it were up to me, though, I'd keep Ron Swoboda around just for laughs. In the picture (above) it really looks like he's crawling, not diving. Ah, the vagaries of high-speed film...
|John Briggs after discovering the delights|
of German food while with the Brewers
No, the man to lead off on this squad is John Briggs, despite any objections about his possessing too much power for the #1 slot. Briggs's lifetime .355 OBP is about as good as it gets on this squad. He's a little weak against lefties, however, so you might want to drop him down in the order against them and do something unorthodox, such as batting Manny Sanguillen leadoff against lefties.
During his days with the Baltimore Orioles, Paul Blair batted second more often than anywhere else--this despite a OBP that was lower than Freddy Patek's. As it turns out, this was an Earl Weaver directive, so who are we to argue against it? The upside: more power in the top of the lineup. Keep repeating that whenever you feel the need to do so...
|Paul Blair, in a rare quiet moment.|
|Remember when there was|
a baseball team in...
All gibes aside, Rusty was a fine hitter, putting together an excellent five-year run from 1967-71 (.302/.397/.472, 147 OPS+), which makes one wonder what Astros GM Spec Richardson was smoking back in 1969 when he traded Staub to Montreal for Jesus Alou and Donn Clendenon. (Hint: it's still not legal in California.)
|Graig Nettles, as painted by Dave Choate:|
the '78 Dodgers still have nightmares about
Game Three of the World Series...
|Uh,oh...looks like Boomer went bust...|
It's not fair, but as my old man used to say--who sez that life is fair?
You can bet that Rader will be doing what he can to maximize the use of these guys.
So, yes, Boomer will bat fifth. As first basemen go, he doesn't really set the world on fire, and he often seems to be in a terrible mood, but he's about the same player as the 43s Lee May, and he's better than the 40s platoon of Joe Pepitone and Danny Cater. (Of course, the 40s are batting those guys eighth...)
|Manny Sanguillen's "noir moment":|
talk about a cover illustration totally
at odds with a book title!
|Tito (sans headband) parties hearty at his herbalist's|
home "back in the day" with the mother of Barry Bonds
|Mark Belanger, the|
Orioles' "secret weapon"
So here's that lineup:
1. Briggs, lf (or Sanguillen vs. LHP)
2. Blair, cf
3. Staub, rf
4. Nettles/Bando, 3b
5. Scott, 1b
6. Sanguillen, c (or Briggs/Ollie Brown vs. LHP)
7. Fuentes, 2b
8. Belanger, ss
There will be a couple of good right-handed pinch-hitters available with Jose Morales and Ollie Brown, and either Bando or Nettles will be waiting in the wings as well. Spotty lineup, but a solid bench.
|A whole new line of work: Tom Seaver eschews|
the horsehide for the pigskin, works out with
"Lover Boy" Joe Namath
|WeGetArty 2: Dayglo Rudy May|
And there's Rudy May to boot, who had solid success as a swing man for the Yankees and the Expos, turning around his career (from 1974-80, Rudy was 88-59 with a 112 ERA+).
The combined best years of these guys:
Carlton 27-10 (1972), Seaver 25-7 (1969), Niekro 21-11 (1979), McLain 31-6 (1968), Singer 20-12 (1969), May 15-5 (1980)
That's a total of 139-51.
You should be able to offset a subpar offense with that.
|Albert "Sparky" Lyle,|
ex-lion tamer at the Bronx
And if that's not enough, there's the bullpen.
|Tug McGraw's banner outside|
Citi Field, new home of the
financially troubled Mets...
Three good lefties. A pair of righties who operated as bullpen aces.
These guys will more than pick up the slack for the starters.
The 44s are loaded with pitching talent.
Now, whether that means they'll hold the opposition batters to the lowest runs allowed in the league is a matter still open to question.
|WeGetArty3: Steve Mingori|
in the land of noir...
But I wouldn't put it past them.