Buster Olney's column today hits on why Ron Washington is likely going to keep going with Vladimir Guerrero in the cleanup spot and in the outfield (when the Rangers are playing in San Francisco), despite the fact that that's not the best alignment for the team right now:
Vladimir Guerrero is more than just the Rangers' cleanup hitter. He is a centerpiece of respect and dignity and consistency, the wise old man of the group. He sits in the same seat on the team's bus everyday, and if you happen to sit in his seat accidentally, before he arrives, one of the other players will politely inform you that you are residing in Vlad's seat.
Ron Washington, the Rangers' manager, could theoretically make a couple of changes with Guerrero for Game 2. It does make some sense for Guerrero to be moved out of the cleanup spot and slotted into the No. 5 or No. 6 spot in the lineup, with Nelson Cruz perhaps batting cleanup -- because if Guerrero is taken out for defense late in games then Washington will have a good hitter protecting Josh Hamilton in the batting order. And given Guerrero's adventures in right field, it might make some sense for Washington to start the left-handed hitting David Murphy in left field, with Cruz starting in right.
But within the Rangers' family, which has functioned particularly well this year, the impact of those kinds of alterations would probably disturb their internal dynamic -- and Washington probably does not want to be perceived as changing stuff. Remember: Nobody sits in Vlad's seat.
And it's hard to imagine that unless Guerrero went to Washington and took himself out of the lineup before Game 2 that anybody else would be hitting cleanup and playing right field.
And that's the problem. One of the consistent themes you've heard throughout this year is that this team has great energy, is a happy team, has great chemistry. And Ron Washington has been praised for his job of keeping everyone on even keel and with a positive mindset.
So...if you think that that is important, then you are going to have to live with the team weakening itself tactically, I guess, to maintain that positive vibe and team chemistry.
And that's really the answer that I think everyone has probably been dancing around the past few days, and really, the past month or so when it comes to Vlad hitting cleanup. He's Vlad, it is going to cause disruption within the clubhouse if you sit him or move him in the lineup, so even though he's not a cleanup hitter anymore and can't play the outfield, he has to stay where he is to keep the clubhouse happy.