Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Week 1 ~ Happy Easter ~

Things are good. The season is under way, and the cubs have shown some flashes of both good and bad so far in the first week, while their record sits at (3-2). The lineup is a completely different beast this year, despite that most don't agree with the order, it is early and I expect some changes eventually. But I really don't think that Lee&MB's slow starts are the biggest issues; other things such as the bullpen, Soriano, and Theriot are much more alarming. MB's average isn't much to be desired to this point, but he has had some great at bats nonetheless. He's currently seeing more pitches per at bat than anyone in baseball, with an average of over 5 pitches being seen, which is pretty amazing considering that one player in the lineup could potentially see 15-20% of the opposing pitchers' pitches over the course of a game.

The bullpen, well you know, its just bad right now. However, I do think that things could turn around given the arms down there. Two problems persist throughout the bullpen, and they are simply known as Cotts & Vizcaino. I think I would option Neal Cotts to AAA tomorrow, and then I would buy a fishing pole to give as a gift to Vizcaino after I released him.

Soriano is a problem not because of production but merely because of circumstance. I have to believe that if he continues to crush the ball the way he is right now, some consideration would have to be given to moving him down in the order to #3. Its pretty simple really, Sori is crushing the ball with no one on to drive in. Currently Sori has 7 hits, 5 of which are extra base hits, yet those hits have only resulted in 5 RBI (3 of which came on HR where he drove himself in). Too much production is being lost with Sori leading off.

Then poor Ryan TheRiot, he too is more circumstance than anything in this. He's getting on a whole lot, but not reaching home plate very often at all. In 5 games the riot has reached base 13 times (9 hits & 4 BB's) and only scored 2 times. So this, in a way, dovetails the problem of Soriano. Where Sori needs some AB's with runners on base, and the riot needs to hit if front of someone that can drive him in.

So I guess that pretty much puts me in the camp with those that want to see some lineup changes. But really, I don't think that there should necessarily be a set batting order, so-to-speak. I'm more of the opinion that different guys in the order should be ready to hit in different spots in the order based on the matchups and how the other players on the team are hitting at the time. But I'll throw a couple potential batting orders out there that I would like to see used:

vs RHP --> Riot - Fuku - Sori - MB - Aram - DLee - Font - Hill/Soto - P

vs LHP --> Riot - DLee- Sori - MB - Aram - Hill/Soto - Reed J - Miles - P

Swap Sori and A-Ram.

Swap Sori and A-Ram.

Keep Sori #3

I do like Sori at #3 because he should hit into less double plays than ARam. But I agree having ARam at 5 is too far down. Especially now with MB struggling or injured put ARam at cleanup.

Just to explain the thought process some...

The main reason I threw Sori in the 3 hole is because he is a bit gun-shy to change, so I was assuming that batting 3rd would be a bit easier transition for him than down to 5th. In the 3rd spot he still gets to bat in the 1st inning, he won't lose a large # of at bats, and with the Riot & Fuk hitting it makes sense to slot those 2 in front of Sori when he is seeing the ball so well right now. But the chances of Alfonso moving aren't good, so you have to accommodate in different ways.

In all honesty I don't really care who hits where in the order, I simply feel that it is important to put Sori-MB-Aramis-DLee bunched together in the order. Hit em' 1-4 or 3-6 or 2-5, it doesn't really matter, but the idea is to make the heart of the order as deep as possible and as difficult as possible for opposing pitchers to get through. It is only my opinion, but I think that there are certainly some possibilities to enhance the production of this lineup as a unit. Right now the team has hitters that are reaching base quite often but not scoring runs, just the same as they have hitters that are producing with no one on base to drive in. I realize its early and these are issues that can't be resolved simply by clapping your hands and hoping for the best, but I also don't see things changing to much if the team continues on the same path either.

Also anyone that watched the ESPN Sunday night game this past week likely heard the broadcasters sort of debating this topic as well. Joe Morgan basically holds the opinion that Sori wouldn't be productive or comfortable anywhere in the lineup other than lead-off. While Steve Phillips thinks that Sori should be moved down in the order to get more chances with runners on base, and the crux of his argument was that Sori originally didn't want to play the outfield either but that seems to have worked out okay.

I simply think that if the cubs intend to go with an unconventional approach with their batting order they should take that approach with the entire order (by unconventional I am pretty much referring to Sori hitting lead-off). If they choose to leave him in the 1st spot in the order, then I think that the rest of the order should follow suit in a similar fashion. Meaning that if Sori is 1st, then cut out Fuku or whomever is batting 2nd, and slide the rest of the order up one spot. This unconventional order would look something like this:

Sori - DLee - MB - Aramis - Fuku - Soto - Font - Riot - P

That lineup still provides L/R balance, while giving the highest number of at bats to the best players on the roster, and it really makes the lineup dangerous late in games when Lou can pinch hit for the pitcher & then roll back to the top of the order. Do I absolutely know that this lineup would work or that it would ever even be given a chance to work? No & no. But I also don't see too many drawbacks to giving it a try either, especially against starting pitchers that are notorious for struggling in the early innings of their starts.

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