Goatriders of the Apocalypse


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We don't have an offense! (Game Recap: Cubs 3, Astros 4)

Ted Lilly got his first hit of the season in the bottom of the fifth inning yesterday, and Darlin' Starlin Castro (oh, he is just so darlin' indeed) drove him in with a double to left field to give the Cubs the game's first run. Unfortunately, Pedro Feliz would later tie the game, on a solo shot in the top of the eighth. The Cubs' failure to score in the bottom of the eighth suggested the game could be headed for some late inning drama.

Then this happened:

Bottom 9, man on 2nd, no outs; K, 1B, pop fly to center, K.
Bottom 10, bases loaded, one out; K, fly out to left.
Bottom 11, 1st and 2nd with one out; fly out, fly out.

Bob Howry came in to pitch the 12th, allowed two singles to lead off, and had to be relieved by James Russell, who got Michael Bourn out, and then Jeff Stevens, who gave up a double to Jason Michaels which drove in two runs. Then other things happened, but that's the important stuff.

Here's a thought: without a hit from Ted Lilly, the Cubs may have been shut out by the Astros yesterday.

Who's the goat on offense? There are plenty of candidates, but Tyler Colvin went 0-for-6 overall, and looked over-matched at times. He struck out to end the ninth, and flied out to end the game.

Colvin's a mistake hitter with great bat speed and excellent power -- not a lead-off man. You know, it's not his fault the team lost yesterday, but putting him in the spot in the lineup that gets the most plate appearances in a game might be pushing it. Furthermore, the only argument I've heard against putting Castro in the leadoff spot is that he's too young, and should be coddled and allowed to develop. Along those same lines, are there any reasons why Tyler Colvin should be leading off?

First we're not playing Colvin enough, then we're playing him too much. I dunno, maybe I'm just a whiner. Anyways, go Cubs, etc.!

Reader Blog: Why is Theriot leading off?

Generally speaking, I don't blame Lou for the debacle that this season has turned into. When your two best hitters have combined for -.8 WAR midway through June, there isn't much you as a manager can do to improve the situation. That said, I have a nit to pick with the skipper. Why is frat boy favorite Ryan Theriot still leading off? By almost every measure available, Theriot is having an awful season at the plate. His sub par .326 on base percentage and complete lack of power have left Theriot with a weighted on-base percentage (wOBA) of .300. By contrast, hated ex-leadoff man Alfonso Soriano has a respectable .346 on base percentage and his wOBA is a robust .386.

Other regulars/semi regulars who would serve as better leadoff men than Theriot: Derrek Lee (.314 wOBA), Marlon Byrd (.403 wOBA), Geovany Soto (.387 wOBA), Tyler Colvin (.411 wOBA), Kosuke Fukudome (.360 wOBA), Mike Fontenot (.342 wOBA).You get the point. Theriot's empty batting average and gutty scrappitude have kept him at the top of the Cubs lineup for far too long. Piniella would immediately make this team better if he moved Theriot into the 7 or 8 slot in the lineup and gave those extra at bats to one of the better hitters on this team.

(For a detailed description of wOBA and why it's one of the best measures of total offensive contributions, click here: http://saberlibrary.com/offense/woba/.)

Most Valuable Cubs (by RAR)

It's Monday morning, and I felt like clicking around Fangraphs for a minute. So I did, because I'm my own man.

I'm looking at the RAR leaderboard, where RAR stands for runs above replacement. If work is slow for you this morning and you haven't ever looked at RAR before, it might be worth your while to Google it; for those of us familiar with the stat, and for those trusting enough to look at a "leaderboard" without thinking too hard about it, follow along as I go through the list of who Fangraphs thinks has been the most valuable Cub so far this season at every position around the diamond.

C - Geovany Soto (11.9 RAR, #3 overall)

Were you expecting Three-Fingers Hill? Soto's got a low batting average, but his 30 walks have boosted his OBP to .426. A lot of
those walks are likely a result of hitting in front of the pitcher, so
if Lou continues to insist on starting Theriot (a bigger if than you might think), maybe we should put someone without power down in that spot and move
Soto, with his four doubles and four homers, up to 7th.

1B - Derrek Lee (0.4 RAR, #11 overall)

The hitting has not been there, but of course you knew that. He's actually hitting more line drives this year than he did in 2009, but apparently the ball keeps finding a glove, as his batting average on balls in play is at .250 right now (his career rate is .320). I know he's older, but the numbers really do bode well for a D-Lee turnaround later this season.

2B - Mike Fontenot (4.8 RAR, #6 overall)

Here's the first biggish surprise of the session: Mike's been more valuable to the team than Theriot thus far. He's got the Riot's on-base skills (.309 average, .352 OBP) -- plus an ounce of power, with six doubles and a homer this year. Perhaps Fontenot should be starting at second more often; I definitely buy it.

3B - Jeff Baker (3.5 RAR, #8 overall)

Baker hasn't really been that great. But, of course, Aramis has been worse. To Jeff's credit, Fangraphs likes his defenseive performance at 3B so far this year. And he does have some power (two doubles, a triple, and two homers). He'll give you an average performance -- which quite frankly is a whole lot better than what Aramis has given so far this year.

In fact, Aramis Ramirez has been worth 11.7 runs below replacement. That's what you get with 40 strikeouts in 156 at-bats, too many fly balls and not enough line drives, and an inability to hit fastballs. Where D-Lee's numbers look primed for a comeback, Aramis' do not.

SS - Starlin Castro (4.5 RAR, #7 overall)

In just the short time he's been up, Darlin' Starlin has already made himself more valuable to the team than the man he replaced at shortstop. Even with the bunches of errors at the start of his big league career, Fangraphs thinks Castro has been the better defensive player. And once again, Theriot's lack of power hurts him in comparisons to other infielders. Castro has four extra base hits in 66 plate appearances, with two homers; Theriot has five XBHs in 192 plate apperances, with zero long balls.

LF - Alfonso Soriano (19.1 RAR, #2 overall)

Byrd's shown great power this season, but Soriano has been even
better. He has 15 doubles, nine homers, and a triple this season -- all
while hitting .326. Nice.

His defense has actually been about average, too. What Soriano lacks in
glove, he makes up for in range and arm strength. But it's the bat
that's made him so valuable to this team.

CF - Marlon Byrd (19.5 RAR, #1 overall)

Of Byrd's 53 hits this year, 23 have gone for extra bases (16 2B, 7 HR). He's even got three steals. Fangraphs also likes his contribution defensively, suggesting he's saved five runs more than a league average center fielder.

But write this number down: 52.2%. That's the percentage of pitches seen inside the strike zone by Byrd, and I think it'll go down as the season goes on. Why, you ask? He's been hacking: he's struck out 24 times this year, and walked just six times (Byrd swings at 32.7% of pitches thrown out of the zone; league average is 27.6%).

RF - Tyler Colvin (9.2 RAR, #4 overall)

Putting Xavier Nady (-1.6 batting RAR) in the starting line-up over Colvin (5.0 batting RAR) is crazy enough. Turns out, the numbers so far suggest the Tylermaniac might be on his way to beating out Kosuke as the every day right fielder.

Unfortunately, I've never read a single scouting report that suggested Colvin has the same kind of star-powered ceiling as does a guy like, say, Darlin' Starlin. But with the plus speed, good glove, and decent power, he might still be better than Kosuke, who is once again fading quickly now that April is over (.344/.443/.641 last month, .259/.348/.414 in May).

So that's that. Speaking of which, how's this look for a line-up against righties:

Fontenot (3B)

Crazy, sure -- but how crazy?

On Batting Kosuke 5th: Nice Job, Lou

There's only so many things a manager has control over.

He's gotta keep an eye on his starting pitcher, and he's gotta know which reliever to go to when it's time to make a change. He's the one that pulls the trigger on pinch hitters, and he'd better know the lefty/righty splits when he makes the change.

And every day, he sets the lineup for his team's offensive attack.

The Cubs have always had a few quirks regarding their approach to the lineup. Most notably, the "leadoff hitter" debate had (until very recently) gone on and on among Cub fans (e.g., "Drop Soriano!", or, "We need Brian Roberts!").

The Cubs have also struggled, for a few years now, to find a left-handed hitting RBI producer for the middle of their order. To that end, you know you have a problem when you allow a 36-year old Jermoy Burnitz to play right field for your major league team.

However, after two and a half years of unrest among the Wrigley Faithful, I think it's safe to say that Lou has settled upon the Absolutely, Positively Correct Lineup against right handed hitters.

If there's one thing about lineups that every baseball fan can agree on, it's this: when you set your lineup correctly, your 1 and 2 hitters will get on base in front of your 3-through-6 guys, who will slug in some RBIs for your team. On that note, here are the slugging percentages for the Cubs' three bona fide RBI guys (A-Ram, Lee and Soriano), in order, with a fourth mystery hitter included in the rankings.

  1. A. Ramirez, .543
  2. D. Lee, .539
  3. Player X, .461
  4. A. Soriano, .443

Player X is Kosuke Fukudome, and for the foreseeable future, the Cubs' left-handed RBI producer. On Sunday, Lou made the last needed change to improve an otherwise optimal Cub lineup by moving Kosuke into the 5th spot, and pushing Milton Bradley up to the 2-hole.

Fuk hasn't always been the clear choice for the 5-hole on this team. He started well in 2009, posting solid numbers in April and May, before seriously slumping in June (his slash line for that month was .169/.266/.241). At that point, the question was whether Kosuke should pay at all, not where he should hit.

Since then, however, the Fukster has been on fire. As proof of his deserving a regular spot in the Cub lineup, he recently broke his habit of posting declining numbers in each subsequent month of the season.

Furthermore, he did so in glorious fashion. His July slash: .307/.392/.534. Wonderful.

Kosuke's .461 slugging percentage is roughly 60 points higher than that of the man he's replacing, the famously infamous Milton Bradley. But Bradley isn't beat in every category; despite a .230 average against righties, as of today MB is sporting an overall on-base percentage of .401, which is very nice (and 53 points higher than Ryan "Sluggo" Theriot's).

Rest assured, Cubdom. Even as the team struggles through a stretch of tough games, made more painful by the Cardinals' feasting on weak opponents, at least we've got the right lineup in place. Finally.

Slightly more ambitious than Rob

Kudos to Rob’s suggestion on moving Daddy to the leadoff spot where his .379 OBP will fit nicely. I LOVE me some OBP talk. It really gets me excited in all the places where baseball statistics shouldn’t.

So to indulge my primal urges, let’s take Rob’s idea a step further.

I’ll assume most of you are familiar with on-base percentage, so I won’t waste your time explaining how it’s calculated. Let’s just keep in mind that a decent OBP is considered to be about .340. The current league average for OBP is .331. As it stands at the All-Star Break, the Cubs have a .322 team OBP.

What makes OBP so important is the value of outs. In baseball, outs (and the ability to not make them) means everything. As long as an offense doesn’t make outs, then anything is possible. Duh. This is essentially what OBP measures.

Last season, the Cubs had a .354 team OBP (first in the NL). Every regular starter on that team had at least a .344 OBP (which belonged to Soriano…go figure). While that team also had a strong batting average and decent power numbers, we know that the 2009 team just isn’t the same.

So let’s call it like it is: The 2009 Cubs can’t hit dick.

But there are other ways to get on the base paths and score runs without hitting the ball. That’s called OBP baby. So here’s my Cubs OBP-maximization batting order (Spoiler Alert: No Fonzie)…

*Current OBP in parentheses

1. Sam Fuld LF (.474) –  He has a small sample size but he did have a .359 OBP in Iowa and still leads that team in walks this season.

2. Milton Bradley RF (.379) – With his power missing, this is the best spot for him.

3. Kosuke Fukudome CF (.367) – He’ll keep the train coming for the power behind him.

4. Derrek Lee 1B
(.354) – Got to put him here for that .511 SLG.

5. Aramis Ramirez 3B (.375) – Also a fairly small sample size because of injuries, but pitchers will be forced to throw more fastballs with guys on base.

6. Geovany Soto C (.336) – Believe it or not, Soto has the third most walks on the team (34).

7. Ryan Theriot SS (.354) – Could be higher, but you need to get guys on base so the eight and nine hitters don’t have to actually swing the bat.

8. Pitcher (Pointless) – They can lay down sac bunts any time Theriot gets on.

9. Bobby Scales 2B (.333) – Can’t be worse than Fontenot (.307) or Miles (.240). Solid minor league OBP of .399 this season with the iCubs.

You down with OBP? Yeah you know me.

Open Forum: Call-ups and Line-ups

Update: The moves have been announced.

Fuld and Hart have been sent to AAA, and Patton is on the DL with a groin strain.

As for the line-up, here's tonight's:

Fukudome, CF
Theriot, SS
Lee, 1B
Bradley, RF
Ramirez, 3B
Soriano, LF
Soto, C
Fontenot, 2B
Wells, P

From earlier:

At some point today, the Cubs will announce their recall of Aramis Ramirez, Reed Johnson, and Angel Guzman to the major league club's active roster. They'll also announce the corresponding roster moves they've made to make room for these three bona fide major league players.

In my opinion, roster and line-up speculation is what makes sports blogging fun. Not only do you get to play GM, but you also get nearly instant feedback from other passionate fans with interesting ideas of their own.

With that, let's try to get some opinions in the comments on what folks are thinking would be ideal for the club at this point. There are two questions to answer:

1) Who should be sent down?

2) How should Lou line the hitters up now that Aramis is back?

The merits on batting Soto 7th - or even 8th

Last season the Cubs were one of maybe five teams to get bonafide offensive output from the catcher's spot.  Subsequently, there's going to be a fair amount of debate about where to bat Soto in 2009 and an argument can be made for a number of options.

2nd - Not really.  But Soto does have a high enough OBP to bat even here.  Last year he drew 62 walks in 556 plate appearances.  That's an OBP of .364. 

4th or 5th - On some teams with less offensive firepower than the Cubs, Soto might have the slugging ability to justify batting either cleanup or protection.  He hit 23 homeruns last year and there's no reason to assume that he won't hit even more this year, apart from your typical concerns about how playing catcher grinds you down and can affect your power stroke.

7th - Based on Lou Piniella's early lineup projections, Soto may bat here.  Rather than complain too much over sticking such a talented hitter so low in the order, consider the guys who'd be batting directly in front of him.  In reverse order - Fukudome, Ramirez (or better yet, Lee), Bradley, Lee (or better yet, Ramirez).  The lowest OBP of that whole lot last season was Fukudome's, who still got on base at a .359 clip despite forgetting how to hit for a quarter of the season.  In other words, Soto would have a ton of chances to drive in runs from there.

8th - This is just a thought.  These days, a lot of smart people would tell you to put your worst hitter here.  On most teams that is the catcher, but in this case it's probably Theriot.  Then again, there's another school of wisdom which states that teams might actually want to give their catchers fewer at bats over the course of the season to help prevent wear and tear.  Regardless, the only reason I'm even suggesting it is because with perhaps Lee, Fukudome, and Theriot directly ahead of him, Soto would probably have a surprising number of RBI opportunities.

Hey, it makes about as much sense as Piniella saying that Soriano's like a second cleanup hitter if he's batting with Fukudome, Soto, and Theriot "ahead" of him with just the pitcher between them.  As if a pitcher isn't inclined to ground into double plays, or more likely to face a situation with 2 outs.  Anyway, I digress.

Muskat Musings

Cubs.com journalist Carrie Muskat wrote yesterday that all of our hopes for a superior lineup might be dashed early. 

Muskat quotes Lou Piniella in saying that Alfonso Soriano won't be moving down in the lineup and, in fact, that Lou is leaning toward the following:

1. Soriano
 2. Aaron Miles
 3. Derrek Lee
 4. Milton Bradley
 5. Aramis Ramirez
 6. Kosuke Fukudome
 7. Geovany Soto
 8. Ryan Theriot

I'm not feeling it and if Piniella in fact uses this lineup more than 20 times in 2009, I'll probably have to get in line to register a Fire Lou Piniella website.  But I'm still running on faith that Piniella will give the positional battles to the most deserving players, meaning that Miles won't play in front of Fontenot too often, and also that he'll wise up and drop Lee in the order. 

Then again, this came from a story written by Carrie Muskat.  How accurate could it possibly be?

Extremely early roster thoughts: 2009 Edition

Despite the "predictions" tag I used, I'm not trying to be Goatstradamus here or anything.  I am not saying that this is what I expect to happen.  I'm not even saying that the guys who decide about things on these matters will agree with me.  But if today was opening day and in a moment of frantic desperation Jim Hendry called me up for advice, this is the Cubs team I'd trot out to face the league.

1. Carlos Zambrano
- Arm problems?  Inconsistent delivery?  Loss of "ace" status to Ryan Dempster last October?  Zambrano remains the best Big Game Pitcher the Cubs have.
2. Ryan Dempster - A 17-game winner and receiver of a large contract this past winter, Dempster probably won't have as good a 2009 but he should still be a reliable #2 starter.
3. Ted Lilly - The Ice Man has been worth every dollar of his contract so far.  Another 17-game-winner, Lilly just might be the best #3 pitcher in the NL.
4. Rich Harden - Call him the defacto 5th starter if you want, but it's an insult to his talent to even have him listed as the #4 guy.  If Harden had a healthy arm, he'd be a perennial Cy Young contender.  If he can be healthy enough to give the Cubs 25+ starts in 2009, then he'll be hands-down the best #4 pitcher in the game.
5. Jeff Samardzija - My first controversial pick!  Here's the logic: he's proven that, in a limited capacity, he can pitch effectively in the Major Leagues.  He's young, will certainly encounter growing pains, may get his ass handed to him from time to time, but pitching for an offensive juggernaut on a team with four other extremely talented guys in the rotation means that there is room to grow.  In other words, the Cubs can afford to allow the Shark to struggle.  And while he is unlikely to have the same impact as the '98 version of Kerry Wood, he just might be one of those feel-good stories that comes along every once in a while.

Note: The next section has been edited on account of how I forgot about Heilman.  Vizcaino has subsequently been moved to long relief and Heilman has been inserted into the MR role.  My official take is this: if Guzman gets "awarded" another option, let him start out in Iowa out of the rotation.  If he doesn't, then his fate will be determined by the guys who are gunning for the 5th spot of the rotation.  If Shark actually does win, Guz is done.  If Shark loses and starts his year in Iowa, then Guzman becomes the defacto Long Reliever, Vizcaino gets bumped back to Middle Relief, and all is well. 

The Bullpen
LR - Luis Vizcaino -
He's sort of the forgotten man on the Cubs pitching staff, at least by fans.  From 2004 to 2006, he was a reliable arm.  In '07 he was Howry-like, and in '08 he was even worse.  The good news is that he remains an effective strikeout pitcher (which tells us a little bit about his stuff).  The bad news is he gave up a Howry-load of homeruns in '08 (even though he was pitching in Colorado, but he gave up an even number of homers at home and on the road).  If he can rebound, he'll be a reliable arm.  If not, he'll just be another Gas Can.  But he won't be able to do too much damage as a long reliever if he's running on fumes.
LHMR - Neal Cotts - I don't like him.  Watching him pitch is a sweat-inducing experience.  Unfortunately he's entrenched and I doubt that any other lefty reliever can outperform him. 
RHMR - Aaron Heilman - He wants to start but he might not get the chance.  He's possibly good enough to serve in the setup role, perhaps even better than Gregg if he finds his groove again.  When you consider how unreliable the Cubs pen was after its three best pitchers, and you then look at this year's bunch, it's really Heilman who puts them over as having improved.  With him - and even with Cotts and Vizcaino occupying roster spots - the Cubs might be five strong out of the pen -- and that sort of thing can make a huge difference in the playoffs.
RHMR - Chad Gaudin - Gaudin wants to start.  Can't say I don't blame him.  In my pretend scenario, he lost the gig fair and square to Samardzija.  Last year as a Cub he was pretty good until he got hurt and was Piniella's whipping boy in the August 22nd game against the Nationals.  Based on his age and ability, I'd expect him to be reliable.
LHSU - Sean Marshall - Not that he's shown a ton of ability to be an Out pitcher, but between he and Cotts it's a no-brainer.  If Piniella needs a lefty in the 8th inning, Marshall will be his guy in '09 in this pretend scenario.
RHSU - Kevin Gregg - It's true - Carlos Marmol is better for this job.  For 2 years, Kevin Gregg has been a reliable-if-not-unimpressive closer.  If baseball was a computer game, I'd assign this gig to Marmol.  Since baseball is played by people with egos, it goes to Gregg.
CL - Carlos Marmol - The most dominating setup man of my lifetime has earned his shot to close.  I can't see why he'd fail.  Marmol shutting down the opposition in the 9th would be a refreshing change on the North Side.

The Regulars

C - Geovany Soto - In his second full season, I'd hope and expect Geo to have a year similar to that of many premier catchers in their second full years.  In his second year, Johnny Bench saw his OPS go up by almost 100 points.  Carlton Fisk saw his power numbers go up, but his AVG dropped by about .50 points.  Pudge Rodriguez's OPS went up by about 70 points.  Mike Piazza's numbers were almost identical.  Granted, none of that is at all relevant to Soto.  But I do not think he'll do worse, and based on his age he could do better. 

1B - Derrek Lee - If they made a movie about Lee's life at this moment, maybe they'd call it The Slow Decline.  I'd still expect Derrek to be a reliable bat in the lineup and glove in the field, although he was defensively shaky in '08.

2B - Mike Fontenot - Bats lefty?  Check.  Good pop to his swing?  Check.  Gritty?  Check.  Shawty has played well and I expect that he will earn his way to the starting role come April. 

SS - Ryan Theriot - I believe that Theriot will probably produce numbers somewhere between his '07 and '08 output.  That would land him at a .287 AVG, 25 doubles, 3 triples, 2 homers, and about a 75% base stealing success percentage.  Oh, and his OPS would be at .358.  Actually that about puts him right where he'd need to be to leadoff.  More on that later.

3B - Aramis Ramirez - I don't think Ramirez will hit 38+ homeruns again, as he appears to have elected not to go the Sammy Sosa route in terms of career progression.  But at 30, he is still well within the window of legitimate Massive Production.  If A-Ram has the kind of year he is capable of, then the Cubs opponents will weep.

Lf - Alfonso Soriano - This guy is bound to stay healthy sooner or later, right?  I mean, he was never injury prone before he began dodging Wrigley Field potholes, so we may have a healthy '09 to look forward to for Sori.  Imagine the kind of runs the Cubs would score if he was smashing the ball with regularity all season long.

CF - Kosuke Fukudome - Before he came to Chicago and tried to bring back the twist, Fukudome was a pure hitter of science and grace.  Call me crazy, but I believe he could return to form.  Maybe he'll never be a hitter of Matsui/Ichiro proportions, but if he can actively increase his offensive output in 2009 then the Cubs will have a phenomenal lineup.

RF - Milton Bradley - Crazy Milton had the best OPS in baseball last year.  He walks a ton.  He hits the ball a ton.  He gets injured a ton.  He hasn't had a healthy year since 2004.  Maybe he's due?


C - Paul Bako - What does Paul Bako have in common with only two Cubs on the current roster?  He's played for the Cubs when they won playoff games and a playoff series.  Not that it means much.  I can't believe he'll live up to the work of Henry Blanco, but as a backup how much will it matter?

IF - Aaron Miles - He's replacing the versatility of Mark DeRosa without the actual hitting ability.  He's spent time playing every position but catcher and first base, and while he's not a homerun hitter, Miles does get his fair share of singles.  If he can match his career averages of .289 in a limited capacity, then he might be extremely valuable in 2009.

IF - Luis Rivas - Based on their current available players, the unlikelihood of pursuing another Nomar, and their undeniable need for another infielder who can play shortstop, it's pretty hard to deny that Rivas will break camp with the Cubs in April.  He's offensively about as exciting as Neifi Perez was in his heyday, but as long as he isn't as stupid with the glove as Ronny Cedeno was, I can't see him being any worse.

OF - Reed Johnson - Reed Johnson is one of the best bargains Jim Hendry has acquired in recent years.  Picked up off the scrapheap after back surgery, Reed delivered unto the Cubs a great performance in 2008.  Based on his consistency (apart from the year of the back surgery), it's safe to bet that Reed will see more at bats than any other backup outfielder in 2009, and he should do well there.

OF - So Taguchi - Probably the second most controversal "choice" I've made, this selection is where Childhood Dreams go to die.  Micah Hoffpauir turns 29 in a week or so and had a great month with the Cubs last year.  Joey Gathright is a 27-year-old bases-stealing fool.  Taguchi can converse fluently in Kosuke Fukudome's native tongue.  I love Hoffpauir, but I don't think it's realistic that he will be a successful major leaguer.  I've made this point before, so here it is again: if he's as good as you think he is, then how come he's on the bubble with the Cubs and not a single Major League GM has attempted to acquire him?  Don't you think a tight-budgeted team would spring at the chance to acquire a guy who - according to you - will outperform Derrek Lee and his 12 million dollar 2009 contract?  Sorry, just thought I'd point that out.  Anyway, probably Gathright is the better choice, although both he and Taguchi both suck fairly badly.  There are really only two things working in So's favor - a) he could be a friend for Fukudome, and b) he bats righty, and the Cubs have a lot of lefty bench bats. 

Lineup and unscientific projections:

Taking this scenario a step further, below is how I'd bat 'em and how I think they might do (if the stars align correctly)

1. Ryan Theriot - .285 AVG, .350 OBP, 30 SB, 5 CS
2. Mike Fontenot - .285 AVG, .350 OBP, 30 2B, 15 HR, 5-10 SB
3. Aramis Ramirez - .300 AVG, .370 OBP, 40 2B, 35 HR
4. Milton Bradley - .300 AVG, .400 OBP, 40 2B, 25 HR
5. Alfonso Soriano - .285 AVG, .340 OBP, 40 2B, 40 HR, 20 SB
6. Derrek Lee - .290 AVG, .350 OBP, 30 2B, 20 HR
7. Geovany Soto - .280 AVG, .340 OBP, 30 2B, 25 HR
8. Kosuke Fukudome - .280 AVG, .360 OBP, 30 2B, 10-15 HR, 10-15 SB

That would be potent.  It's also surely on the high side a little but don't forget, we are blogging from pretend land today.

Anyway, I like this team.  I like the roster.  The rotation is solid, the bullpen isn't weak, the lineup is amazing (and probably could score the most runs in all of baseball), and there is enough depth for me to not feel too worried about potential injuries.

Another lineup thread

With news that Alfonso Soriano does not care where he bats in the lineup, I figured it was time for another one of our pointless lineup threads where we weigh the facts and figures before promptly ignoring them and going with our gut Decider style. 

As I've mentioned about twenty times before, from my understanding the ideal lineup should feature your two highest OBP's at the tippy top with your #2 hitter being the one with a higher slugging percentage.  Your player with the best OPS on the team should bat 3rd, the guy with the best slugging percentage should bat 4th, and 5-9 should be your players based on their OPS.

There are a few other circumstances to consider, though.  For example, for "strategery" reasons you might want to stack your lineup as L-R-L as possible so as to force the opposing team to use up the arms in their bullpen quicker in important situations.

Anyway, here are the two options I like the most:

1. Theriot RHB
2. Fontenot LHB
3. Ramirez RHB
4. Bradley SH
5. Soriano RHB
6. Soto RHB
7. Lee RHB
8. Fukudome LHB

Where you'd bat Lee or Soto in this situation is debatable, but I think that Geovany might be the better of the two hitters in 2009.

Here's option #2:

1. Fukudome LHB
2. Lee RHB
3. Bradley SH
4. Ramirez RHB
5. Soriano RHB
6. Soto RHB
7. Fontenot LHB
8. Theriot RHB

Basically my opinion is that because Theriot lacks in the ability to hit the ball hard, he's either the 1st hitter in the lineup or the 8th.  Lee is not the ideal #2 hitter, but he might not be a terrible choice to bat there. 

Anyway, food for thought, yadda yadda, time to get to work.

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