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A consistent line-up is needed

Manager Kirk Gibson needs to create a consistent, everyday batting order
Manager Kirk Gibson needs to create a consistent, everyday batting order
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Recent remarks from Diamondbacks' manager Kirk Gibson appear uneasy.

In last Thursday's media session at Salt River, Gibson was asked if he decided on a batting order or, at least, gave some serious thought. He somewhat brushed aside several related questions and only committed Paul Goldschmidt to his usual number three spot and the starting pitcher hitting ninth.

Otherwise, there're was no commitment and Gibson even appeared annoyed through the continuing dialogue.

"I remember when I was with Oakland and when we played contenders, their lineups did not change, " said reliever Brad Ziegler. "In one game with Detroit, I think (Miguel) Cabrera was out one day and (manager Jim Leyland) just put his replacement in the three spot. No one changed in the batting order because, I think, everyone knew their roles."

Last season, Gibson used 136 different lineups in the Diamondbacks' 162 games and there was a lack of cohesion and rhythm. With a constant shuffle of the batting order, the attempt to gain unity was compromised.

After Eric Chavez delivered a walk-off single to beat the Rays at Chase Field in early August, he told reporters that the pennant race is about to heat. With his experience previously with the Oakland and the Yankees, Chavez said Gibson should run the eight best hitters out there every day and with a consistent line-up.

At that point, he argued, Gibson needed to create a sense of continuity and define the roles and aptitudes of his players. That was never done, and the Diamondbacks finished with a mediocre 81-81 mark, a .500 season for the second year in a row.

One argument which can be advanced for a strong, consistent line-up in the ability to bunch wins. For 2013, the Diamondbacks longest winning streak was five games, and that was accomplished twice. The first time was May 6 to May 10 and also from July 3 to July 7.

To compete a high level, the D-backs needs to reel off winning streaks of eight to 10 games and a 15 out of 20, or a similar number.

For that to happen, two things must occur.

First, the starters need to pick up a collective 10 wins or more and Gibson needs to run eight guys out every one in a consistent batting order.

Because Gibson gives no commitment, at this point, speculation abounds.

One theory had Gerardo Parra leading off against right-handed pitching and hitting seventh against lefties. That would reverse batting order slots with A. J. Pollock, who would lead-off against lefties and hit seventh against righties.

Then again, how does Gibson position players like Aaron Hill, Martin Prado and Miguel Montero into a structured lineup.

If Gibson is as consistent in 2014 as he was during previous seasons managing the Diamondbacks, this team may have difficulty finding the form and cohesion needed to make a strong run at the National League West Division title.