I've read quite a lot about moving Mauer in the 2 hole upon his return to the lineup. Most recently I read Joe Christensen this morning. He advocates this as well. Something he said got me to thinking (and forgoing part of my work day).
Specifically, how does the OBP of the #2 hitter affect our ability to win. What I did was look at both LNP and others in the 2 hole and how their production drove the offense.
Take a look at this:
Game Type W L Tot Win %
LNP #2 Hitter 16 17 33 .484
LNP not # 2 Hitter 12 11 23 .521
# 2 Hitter >.320 OBP 15 9 24 .625
LNP #2 & >.320 OBP 9 6 15 .600
LNP not # 2 & >.320 OBP 6 3 9 .667
The sample size is a bit smaller than I'd like. However, given a change (IMO) should be made sooner rather than later, I think this points in the direction of putting a higher OBP guy in front of Cuddy, Torii and Morneau with out the black hole that has been the # 2 hitter.
If the put someone in the 2 spot who can get on base 2-3 times per game consistently, maybe they can't get all the way to a .625 winning percentage. But, if they can gain even half that from where they are at currently, you're looking at 91 wins. Probably not enough - but a heck of a lot closer, and will definitely make for a much more interesting August/September.