Goatriders of the Apocalypse

The lineup as it stands today

Just thought I'd throw this up on the site ... as this will be a short article, I'm writing it as a "blog post" and since I own the keys to the kingdom, I'm promoting it to the front page, as well.

If I'm building the Cubs lineup, this is what I'd do with the players the Cubs have at this moment:

1. Kosuke Fukudome RF
2. Mark DeRosa 2B
3. Aramis Ramirez 3B
4. Alfonso Soriano LF
5. Geovany Soto C
6. Derrek Lee 1B
7. Ryan Theriot SS
8. Felix Pie CF

If Reed Johnson starts over Pie, I place him 7th and bat Theriot 8th.

While I think we'd all agree that the Cubs should pursue another bat, all things being equal this is by no means a bad lineup.  The only problem is the fact that it goes L-R-R-R-R-R-R-L or, if Reed starts, L-R-R-R-R-R-L-R, which just won't cut it.

Thoughts?

Small changes with the

present roster could yield significant post season success.

Much has been made of two consecutive postseason sweeps of the Cubs with players, manager and fans, scratching their heads how a team on a roll entering the 2007 post season, and a team that won 97 games entering the 2008 post season could fail so miserably.

If we look at the pitching staff while not lights out, it's hard to say other than Dempster's walk-a-thon in the first game against the Dodgers, had very little to do with the Cubs losing the series. It can be argued that Piniella's game one decisions in 2007 and 2008 certainly didn't help the Cubs to victory, but the impotence of a season long productive offense, especially in 2008 was the big culprit.

It's not hard to understand that many players don't perform up to their regular season numbers during the post season as they are usually facing quality rotations where the 5th. and quite possibly the 4th. starter never start a game.

It doesn't discount the fine offensive season most of the Cubs had but it does shed some light on the fact that against quality pitching, many of the Cubs didn't perform as expected.

The point of this article is to see why, and explore some options that might help many of these same players be more productive.

First, there are very few playoff teams I can think of that start their lineup with a free swinging power hitter, even if he has speed. Sure there have been a few Ricky Henderson types, but anyone that isn't living under a rock understands that Alfonso Soriano isn't a Ricky Henderson.

The big boondoggle that has been perpetrated here is that Soriano is a leadoff man because he has so much experience hitting leadoff. Well if Soriano has all that experience, how come he isn't any fucking better at it?

Leadoff hitters work the count, not because they can't hit and are hoping to get a walk, but precisely the opposite. These are the most patient hitters on the team and they have the ability to spoil pitch after pitch until the pitcher makes a mistake or walks them. Building up those pitch counts for the opposing pitcher is the other important responsibility of a leadoff man and Soriano just fails at it miserably.

Of course Soriano has speed and when coupled with his power, it is the narcotic that clouds the minds of otherwise sane managers into thinking he can be a leadoff man, especially when the team doesn't have a proven option to replace him with.

Soriano has to move out of the leadoff spot. You just can't have an undisciplined whiff machine, getting more AB's than anyone else come the post season.

Second, it has been long acknowledged that a teams most productive hitter bats third in the lineup. You know the type, good average, low strikeouts, and good power with a knack to drive in runs. Do the Cubs have such a player? The closest player they have is Aramis Ramirez.

Derrick Lee has been the number three hitter since 2005 and while he still has a good BA and OBP, his power numbers have been declining and he still whiffs way to often. However if Lee hit in the 5 hole, he could provide protection for an undisciplined hitter like Soriano, hitting immediately behind him. If Soriano were to get on base, the patient Lee would allow Soriano to still run and possibly cut down on the 27 double plays Lee hit into last season.

This revised middle of the order would prove to be more effective with Soriano's power sandwiched between two of the more disciplined power hitters on the team and still afford Soriano plenty of AB's and opportunities to still steal a base.

Third, now that Soriano is out of the leadoff spot we need a replacement. As I mentioned earlier, you need a disciplined hitter to fill that role and for that matter the 2 hole as well. Ryan Theriot demonstrated last year that he can perform well for a whole season and actually had some experience, albeit with mixed results as a leadoff man. If Theriot was told from the jump that the leadoff role was his to lose, I think he could perform well there.

Many of the runs scored last year came as a result of having the high on base hitter Theriot, on base in front of the big bangers. If Theriot is inserted in the leadoff spot, the Cubs will need to replace him with an equally proficient on base machine in the 2 hole.

The righty/lefty tandem of Mark DeRosa and Mike Fontenot, would be the best suited to address the need for another disciplined hitter in that crucial 2 hole in the order. Both have shown discipline at the plate and of course that is the key ingredient of hitters at the top of the order.

Fourth, even without securing a power left handed bat, which I still hope is possible, I can't imagine Fukudome performing worse than he did the last half of 2008. If no acquisition is made, certainly Pie and possibly Hoffpauir, depending on how Fukudome is performing will see more time in the outfield. Of course the platooning of Reed Johnson in the outfield and DeRosa just about everywhere, will help the Cubs against the tough left handed pitchers.

This Cubs lineup is quite formidable and I haven't even mentioned our Rookie of the Year catcher Geovany Soto. He's a stud and will play most every game.

Hopefully a quality left handed bat for the middle of the order can be acquired before we enter next season but if not, the small adjustments mentioned above could get more consistent production out of the lineup against the top pitchers in the league.

Ummmmmm

I still can't believe how people think batting order matters. The leadoff hitter actually hits leadoff about, oh once every game. Otherwise he's just another spot in the order that needs to produce some runs. To me, it doesn't matter who leads off a game, as long as they can drive in runs when they need to. Even if it is Soriono hitting a leadoff home run, which he obviously does once in awhile. All I am saying is I don't think the leadoff hitter sets the tone for anything. Everyone else has to do their job.

Games Played last year:

Games Played last year: 109
At Bats: 453
At Bats leading off an inning: 168
Total percentage of at bats as leadoff: 37%

As we saw based on their regular season dominance, the Cubs did just fine with Soriano leading off for close to 110 games. The problem really occurred in October, when teams and players start performing under a microscope. Soriano's post season woes did nothing to help the Cubs win games. Looking at the few players who were successful in Oct, it's conceivable that there was a better lineup that could have yielded better results.

True...

However, Soriano's run production is more valuable in the middle of the order. When you have the 8 and 9 hitter in front of you during the course of a game, you have a lesser chance to produce. He's too valuable to not give him the opportunities.

Yours is good.

But if we need another lefty, we're gonna have to work Fontenot in there.

I say, two-hole. Get fastballs when there's a guy on first, and get protection from #3.

As of today, if our leadoff guy isn't Soraino, it's Theriot. The OBP is great. He had a lot more base-stealing success in 2007 than in 2008, maybe he could find that again?

He's not slow?

He's faster than Daryle Ward?

Also, Felix Pie is not a better hitter than Kosuke Fukudome.

So we start in April with:

Theriot
Fontenot
Ramirez
Soriano
Soto
Lee
DeRosa
Fukudome

2, 7, and 8 are interchangeable throughout the season based on each hitter's success. The rest kinda seems can't-miss right now. Unless Soriano gets cranky and Soto regresses a lot.

What?

DeRosa in RF=big, big

DeRosa in RF=big, big mistake.

If Fontenot plays at his career averages - and taking into account that more than half his totals come from this past season, when he was undeniably performing well - then we're looking at a guy who might be able to bat .290 and who may hit 10-14 homeruns in a season.

That would pretty much put him on par for the middle infield, although I really have a feeling that over a full season as a starter he'd probably be a lot closer to .275/.336/.738 in terms of AVG/OBP/OPS.

But while Fontenot might be able to match DeRosa's production next season, I'd feel very nervous about the team if DeRosa was playing full-time in RF because he's going to be more inclined to bat .280-.290 with 12-15 homeruns, just like Fontenot, and unlike a productive RFer.

If Fontenot is really capable of matching DeRo's production, then the Cubs really need to look at trading DeRosa, starting Fontenot, and using the freed-up DeRo cash to sign another lefty bat to play RF. That would give the Cubs a lineup of, let's say ...

SS Theriot R
2B Fontenot L
3B Ramirez R
RF Whomever L
LF Soriano R
1B Lee R
C Soto R
CF Fukudome L

That R-L-R-L-R-R-R-L is a little better than what we were looking at previously.

One last thing ... a good base stealer has to get away with it at least 80% of the time, and preferably more than that. Before 2008, Theriot had stolen 41 bases and been caught only 6 times, a success rate of 87%. Last year, his offensive success was marred by how he stole 22 bases, but was caught 13 times - a 63% success rate. I would rather he not steal bases than see him get caught that often, but if he gets caught that often next year, he can't stay leadoff for long.

This is

Spot on. Although I could see the right fielder grabbing the three spot instead, and just moving Aramis to the 4 hole.

derosa rf

kurt i kinda dig some of ur ideas and lineup proposals and such. i have a few thought s bout this lineup and want to twek it a bit.

johnson/ cf
fontenot 2b]
soriano
dunn/ big rf lh bat
ramirez
lee
soto
pitcher
theriot

i think this is some more of interest and thought than a tru possibility but hell thats all these are ny ways. the search is clear for the rf slot and big ass lh bat that we need but i also think we need bout 2 lh bat for the bench with hoff bein 1 and also needin 1 more- still say sign j jones to $ 750.000 contract with incentives to earn up to 4 mil and let em see what he can earn off the bench and spot starting. i truely dont think the tandem of riot and font is ever going to be an issue for this team we truely to fix the few holes we have- which unfortunately vary pending whose blog u read.

I want Adam Dunn.

Give me Adam Dunn please.

So, theoretically....

Theriot SS
Derosa 2B
Ramirez 3B
Dunn RF
Soriano LF
Soto C
Fukudome RF
Pie/Johnson/whoever CF

I don't have that huge of an issue with Theriot leading off, honestly. I'd be more for the idea if he would stop trying to steal second every damn time he got on.

You have 2 RF there...is dunn

You have 2 RF there...is dunn playing 1B? No D-Lee....

Oh wow, I'm dense.

Theriot SS
Derosa 2B
Ramirez 3B
Dunn RF
Soriano LF
Soto C
Lee 1B
Fukudome CF
Pitcher P

I apologize for my idiocy.

srsly? dunn?

Whats the fascination with dunn?

He'll pound 40 in wrigley, but bat .240, obp .370, BB/K of .79....
Soriano will yard 30, Bat .270, obp .340, and steal 20 bases (aka, have speed on the bases) with a BB/K of .41
They strike out the same amount, about 160K/162...

The question becomes, are you really ready to spend a bajillion dollars for a left handed, slower, even worse defensively, alfonso soriano? Considering the 3-4-5 rotation pitchers are predominantly FB% pitchers, a weakly defensive outfield will make us suffer MUCH more than you'd think.

I suppose the fascination

I suppose the fascination with Dunn is that he hefts a heavy bat from the left-handed side - something the Cubs need - is under the age of 30 - something rare in a free agent - and has hit .286 with 23 homeruns in only 60 career games at Wrigley Field.

While he'd no longer be facing Cubs pitching, in a 162 game season Dunn would roughly project to 575 AB, 151 Hits, 33 2B, 2 3B, and 48 HR - that's a batting average of .263, by the way, and an awful lot of power.

I suppose Colin would know better than me, but I think that if Dunn could put up the sort of line I just depicted, it would more than compensate for any defensive blunderings he might be prone to.

See, my angle is that you

See, my angle is that you have two serious defensive liabilities in the outfield. And then you have pie.

Does the presence of P.I.E. make up for the rather crappy inability of Soriano and Dunn as corner outfielders or will we see tons more gappers to all fields?

That's the million dollar question.

Lucky for us (ish), more often the ball will be yard then gapped... less defensive worries on that front. I agree that Dunn would be an OK fit, hitting .260 with 40HR's would be a very welcome addition, but at the cost? Ehhhhhhhhhhhh. Said Agent would probably still take us to the cleaners.

OK, this might be ridiculous, but...

I know he was released. I know he's old. I know he's injury prone. But is the thought of Jim Edmonds on the bench a bad idea? I'm sure he's dirt cheap. When healthy he still had some pop in his bat. He has to be a huge improvement over Ward. And yes, I know Hoffpauir is the lefty off the bench.

This is just a cold Saturday morning in November thought...

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