Goat Riders of the Debateacolypse: Round 4, I think
Greetings, Cub fans. Welcome to a surprise round of the Debateacolypse. I will be joined by Kyle today, as we will discuss a hot topic in Chicago right now - ballpark cleavage. Is there too much or too little?
No, wait, actually we're going to discuss a relevant topic for once - lineups. As Kyle so aptly pointed out in a private EMail in which he also disclosed his hatred of clowns and his distaste for m-words (that's little people in politically-correct talk), while commenting on his personal belief that Scarlett Johansson is the opposite of hot ... actually, I got lost there. Basically, now that I'm done slandering him, Kyle said that with Soriano returning, somebody's going to lose at bats. So, let us begin the debate:
Kurt: If I'm picking a guy to punt from the lineup, then obviously there are a limited number of choices. Fukudome, Edmonds, Ramirez, Lee, and DeRosa are pretty well guaranteed to start. Theriot, Fontenot, and Reed Johnson, not so much.
However, while he's been playing very well as of late, I think Fontenot in particular will lose the most at bats in the return of the Fonz. I sincerely doubt that he'd be able to keep up the pace anyway, and a bat as strong as his is best suited perhaps to be our first pinch hit option late in games.
Therefore, my vote goes to Fontenot, even over Ryan Theriot. Reed Johnson and his ridiculous Fu will probably remain part-time in the outfield with Jim Edmonds.
Kyle: While I will concede that Mike Fontenot will most likely be the at-bat casualty upon The Return of the Fonz, I'm going to take the Lou Piniella-approach today and stay with the hot bat while benching the cold one...therefore sparing Mike Fontenot from grabbing some pine and allowing me to kick dirt on Kurt's shoes and yell in his face when he disagrees with me.
I think we can all agree the Fontenot has been hot as of late. Lil' Mikey just gets up there and swings his tiny bat around like a child trying to smash a piñata into pieces...except instead of tasty candy he gets doubles and the occasionally homerun. No one knows how long Fontenot's hot streak is going to last, but we know the piñata will eventually be empty and he will return to being an average bat. Until then, the Cubs need to capitalize on his production because who knows how long it will be there.
So who takes the fall instead?
Well it's not one guy, but rather two: Fukudome and DeRosa. Kurt mentioned both these players as being "guaranteed to start", but no one in this lineup has been colder than Fukudome over the last few weeks. He struggles tremendously against lefties (this is where DeRosa comes into play as a platoon guy) and he seems to have lost his trademark patience at the plate. Something is clearly wrong and he should take the next few weeks to work with the hitting coach and get it all figured out.
While I believe this team can win without Fontenot, I don't know if they can do it without Fukudome down the stretch.
Kurt: As I turn my hat to better lean in and get into your face, I would like to respectfully suggest that yourblinditwasastrikeyouradirtyco-ahem. Sorry. Actually, I think that benching the struggling player is perhaps the least conductive way to get him out of his druthers.
Therefore, while Fontenot has been a huge offensive asset, maybe it would be more sensible to suggest that he's playing above his head - not a pun on his height, oh, who am I kidding, that was a total pun - and will eventually return to Planet Mediocre.
Let Fontenot be Lou's clutch pinch hit choice. Start him every odd week. Leave playing regularly up to the big boys - ooh, I punned him again - particularly when compared with Fukudome, who's been an offensive outcast.
Kyle: Fukudome wouldn’t necessarily be benched so much as he will be platooned with DeRosa, because real game at-bats are too valuable.
However my friends, I believe that Fukudome is dangerously close to being infected with “The Thing”. For those of you that don’t know, “The Thing” is usually a disease that resides in pitchers (like good ole Rich Hill), but dear Kosuke is showing the classic signs of becoming ill.
He’s second-guessing his swings, he’s going out of his comfort zone, and he is clearly showing his disgust and frustrating. All this is leading to what “The Thing” does best: kill confidence.
Now I want to clarify that this isn’t a permanent benching for Fukudome. In fact, with Soriano’s return seemingly imminent, perhaps the platoon idea would only last through the rest of this month because the Cubs play 19 games at home in August…and it is well documented that Fukudome is a different player at home (and by “different” I mean “better”).
Right now he just needs to relax, clear his mind and learn how to hit an off-speed pitch. That would be nice.
The reality of the situation, however, is that if keeping Fontenot in the lineup is a performance-based decision, then the reducing of at-bats for another player should also be performance-based. So the logical choice (outside of benching Fontenot on an anti-short people platform that Kurt is clearly basing his whole argument around) seems to indicate taking some field time away from Fukudome due to his recent performances.
Kurt: Dammit, Kyle! They'll bite you in the knees. The knees!!! Erm...
I just can't see how minimizing at bats solves confidence issues. Now, if you could convince me that Fukudome's problems are fatigue related, I'd take a different approach.
Ultimately, we have to think about Lou Piniella when we argue what will happen. What'll Lou do?
Realistically, Reed Johnson is about to learn first-hand the most intimate details of the Cubs bench. Mark DeRosa is going to reacquaint himself with the pansy-ass lofts of Ryan Theriot. Mike Fontenot is going to find himself left out a little, as well.
However, we have to remember one thing. Alfonso Soriano isn't about to go from 0 to 100 in 2.4 seconds. He's going to play more often than he doesn't, but I'm betting he starts no more than 75% of the time for a while.
In other words, this is probably realistic:
When Alfonso doesn't start in left, DeRosa does, and Fontenot plays second.
When Edmonds doesn't start in center, Fukudome does, DeRosa moves to right, and Fontenot plays second.
When Fukudome takes a day off - about twice a month, it seems, DeRosa plays in right and Fontenot plays second.
When Aramis takes a day off, Fontenot or DeRosa play third.
And, when a tired Mark DeRosa finally rests, Fontenot's there for that, too.
It won't be a daily thing, but when you're Lou's first option off the bench, there's definitely work for you. I would suspect that, depending on how they swing it, Fontenot could find himself with heavy playing time in at least half of the remaining games this year.
Kyle, any final thoughts or conclusions on your end?
It won't be regular, but if Fontenot is the top
Kyle: Personally, I have to believe that Lou is going to try and ride the hot bat, which means I believe he is going to get Fontenot as many at-bats as possible (whether that be as a regular starter, a pinch-hitter or a late-game sub) in the last half of the season.
What you've highlighted above brings attention to perhaps this team's greatest strength:the ability to use everyone on the roster and have those players produce.
The fact that we're arguing about which GOOD player Lou should bench is great. This time last season, I was ready to run onto the field and dropkick Jacque Jones in the head. Now, the Cubs have too many quality players. Awesome x3.
On a day when I've been generally pissed off after witnessing one of the most painful games I've watched this season, I now feel a little bit better about our chances...and midgets.