Things to come today
The next two days are going to be antsy, aren't they? As we wait to find out if an All Chicago World Series is even possible, we're going to keep you busy at GROTA. I will be posting two sets of, erm, scouting reports about both teams, the Cubs today, the Dodgers tomorrow.
Cub fans are already debating the batting order. Should Derrek be bumped to the #2 spot? Should he bat cleanup - or even 5th?
As the scouting reports might take a long-ass time to write, I'm going to leave you with this for now... in terms of lineups and whatnot, we have to think that Piniella's not going to shake things up. From his perspective, the Cubs won 97 games doing it a certain way, and any time the fans or media question him about his way he starts talking about how he shoulda been a farmer.
But, you know what, this is a blog. That's the sort of stuff we do. We think about things and then we debate them. Usually from our basements. Because we're dorks. ...or, at least, I am.
So, I will present to you my thoughts on two different Cubs lineup. Ideal, and realistic.
SS Ryan Theriot - Why leadoff? Theriot hit .307 this season, and his slugging percentage dictates that he should either be batting first or last. The key to Theriot being the choice is actually his OBP - he walked 73 times this season, and will enter the playoffs with an OBP of .387. However, his EOBP is lower: it's at around .366. Still, .366 isn't bad, and if Theriot is conservative on the basepaths, his tendency to make outs stealing second won't hurt the team.
2B Derrek Lee - Maddog is right. Derrek should not be the team's #3 hitter. He's still productive, but the Cubs have at least 3 guys who are more productive, and that's really all you need to know. One con against Derrek batting 2nd - all those double plays. I think they're somewhat of a fluke. Perhaps Colin will support that theory, or maybe he'll light me up like a firecracker on New Year's Eve. Either way, Derrek finished the year batting .291 with a .361 OBP. He also displayed moments of power - 20 homeruns - and good slugging - 41 doubles.
3B Aramis Ramirez - A-Ram has completed his game this year. While he is perhaps the streakiest player alive, Ramirez exited September with a batting average of .289, he hit 27 homers and 44 doubles, drove in 111 RBI, and most importantly, he drew 74 walks this season. He's got an OBP of .380 on the year, and before '08, his best season ever in walk totals was 2006 when he drew 50.
LF Alfonso Soriano - The Fonz will never, ever bat cleanup for Lou Piniella. But he should. Soriano finished the year as the team's homerun champion with 29 - that's 2 more than what Aramis had in 101 fewer at bats. He also drew 43 walks, which isn't bad for a cleanup hitter, but it's a little on the low side for a leadoff guy.
C Geovany Soto - Geo Soto has been a surprise offensive success. He's got 23 homers, 86 RBI, and most impressively a .285 AVG and .364 OBP. He's an excellent compliment to any leadoff hitter.
RF Mark DeRosa - DeRo could just as easily be the team's #2 hitter, and he may even be a better option than Lee. The Cubs everyman hit more homeruns than Lee, drove in 3 less RBI, and walked 69 times this season. He's batting .285 with an OBP of .376 and has 21 homers.
CF Jim Edmonds - Edmonds's numbers do not reflect his value this season. At a glance, Jimmy Baseball finished the season with a .235 batting average and 20 homeruns. With the Cubs, Edmonds actually batted .256 in 85 games and 250 at bats. He hit 19 homeruns in Chicago, and he drew a ton of walks - his OBP is .369. Not bad for a guy who I used to want to throw stuff at.
2B Mike Fontenot - Little Babe Ruth became Ron Santo's favorite this year. And it's understandable as to why. Fontenot ended the season with a batting average of .305 in 243 at bats. He hit 9 homeruns, 22 doubles, drove in 40 runs, and walked 34 times, giving him an OBP of .395 on the season. Not bad for a guy who some thought wasn't even worthy of a bench spot on the roster.
Problems with the ideal lineup: Mostly, they don't factor in splits at all. I basically took the best Cub players and put them where I thought the'd do their best. It's very easily debatable that some of these players could be moved up or down in the lineup, and as Rob has noted, the Marlins won a World Championship with Derrek Lee batting 6th. However, on paper this lineup is ridiculously scary, because there are no known holes. Every player can get on base, many players can make game-changing hits, and 1-8 the opposing pitcher will have to use his best stuff.
The Likely Lineup:
While I know that Lou Piniella reads this blog over coffee - actually I'm not sure if Lou knows how to turn a computer on, but that's neither here nor there - he's likely to ignore my words of wisdom and use the following players in the following ways:
LF Soriano - Don't mess with what works. The Cubs won an awful lot of games by batting Soriano leadoff this year. Consider him the Anti-Ramirez. Aramis is the guy you want to be the final batter in a game. A-Ram can make an impact. Alfonso is the guy you want to be the first batter in a game. He can grab momentum that quickly.
SS Theriot - There's nothing wrong with keeping your speed at the top. Ryan Theriot has proven at least to me that he's deserving of being a starter, and if the Fonz flails and fails, Theriot is perhaps the next likely lead-off type player the Cubs have to get on base and set the table for the heart of the order.
1B Lee - Derrek may not be the best choice to bat third. He may be best suited to bat 2nd, 4th, or 6th. But, again, 97 wins. Put it to you this way, my friends - the last thing you want to see is Lou Piniella micro-manage the team to death now that they're in the playoffs. If he starts burning through 4 relievers in an inning, and if he starts fiddling with his lineup, then the Cubs are in trouble.
3B Ramirez - Moy clutch.
C Soto - In any lineup, he's the best #5 guy on the team. And in some teams in baseball, he bats third.
RF DeRosa - Again, he could arguably bat second on this team. At this point in the season, he's unlikely to.
CF Edmonds - See all above comments.
2B Fontenot - It's incredible that he's done such a job that he's stolen a starting spot in the post season lineup from a guy making 8 figures. That's how good he's been.
Posit your disagreements and opinions in the comments section. I'd love to know what you'd do differently. But regardless, as we sweat, worry, and wonder, it's an unusual feeling to know that 1-8, the Cubs have the most phenomenal offense in the post season. I look forward to seeing what they can do against Lowe.