Last night brought back memories of the Lost Decade for me.
It wasn't Mike Leake's meh start or his propensity for allowing long balls and liners. It wasn't the swing first and ask questions later offensively bad offense either.
It was a first inning pop fly.
The first batter of the game hit a pop fly any left fielder would have gotten. It landed five feet in front of the normal LF standing spot, roughly 70 feet behind the SS.
And our erstwhile LF jogged in, stared the CF for a clue, and watched it fall.
When seeing it on TV, I couldn't believe Alonso could have been that slow. So I timed it. It took almost five seconds (4.7 hang time) for it to drop. Enough time, in fact, for George Grande to hit us with a paragraph about how much of a 'tweener it was.
That's enough time for a returner to camp under a punt kicked within 40 yards of his position in any direction.
That's enough time for a high school sprinter to go 40 yards.
That's enough time for Billy Hamilton to steal second base, dust himself off, and call time.
No other LF in the game allows that ball to fall. Not Carlos Lee. Not Jonny Gomes. Not anyone.
Then I saw the brutality of Edgar Renteria at SS. Two botched plays due to fall down range. Later in the game, a Votto E and, realistically, four of Leake's runs given up should have been prevented.
Then it got me to thinking. (Dangerous, I know.)
If the Reds are truly going to ignore defense completely and play guys at places they clearly don't belong, why not go whole hog and truly get the most out of it?
Put mashers everywhere you can and let the chips (and balls) fall where they may.
Hernandez/ Mesoraco C
Neftali Soto 3B
It has a nice LH/ RH swing to it and every player on the team would likely OPS over league average. Sure, you might point to Frazier at SS as ridiculous, but I'd point at his past experience there and Edgar Renteria as proof that he couldn't be any worse. In fact, Frazier's taller, so his fall down range might actually exceed Renteria's!
And, if you don't like Alonso in RF, switch he and Francisco. If defense really doesn't matter, it shouldn't matter who can't get to the balls in the gap anyway, right?
Of course, this lineup may necessitate an odd bench, as Jay Bruce is likely to be worn out after ten games or so. You may need two CF on the bench. But, with Stubbs and Heisey, that shouldn't be much of a stretch. (They can hit the ball too! Ugh-Ugh.)
Selling Neftali Soto at 3B, particularly after he failed there as a prospect might raise a few eyebrows, but we've got the find a way to get that 900 OPS bat in the lineup and he owns an infielder's glove. So he's good to go. Or, he did get drafted as a SS. You could move Frazier to third. Then, you could make Brandon Phillips play rover-style in the middle of the field.
You know, like softball.