Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Lineup Card

Mistress of Prognostication that she is, Carrie Muskat has projected that the Cubs everyday lineup will look like this:

1. Soriano
2. Miles
3. Lee
4. Ramirez
5. Bradley
6. Soto
7. Fukudome
8. Theriot

Ugh. Personally, I've never understood the commonly held belief in baseball that you should put a sucky hitter in the number 2 slot. Considering that a primo leadoff hitter (which we don't have) reaches base only 40% of the time, why do managers insist on placing someone who can "move the runner over or work the count to allow him to steal" in the number two hole? Does any team ever sacrifice bunt in the first inning with the second hitter of the game? No!! Do you know who is great at moving the runner over and taking pitches? Ryan Dempster! And that's why he hits NINTH. I want my best hitters at the top of the order, plain and simple. But most big league skippers continue to insert the human sacrifice bunt into the #2 slot. Makes no sense.

Here's another way of summarizing the theory: Your leadoff hitter can have some power (Biggio, Roberts, Henderson, Soriano). Your 3 and 4 hitters need to have power. But if your #2 guy has power, you're a moron. I know no one actually says that, but their actions say it for them. To me, the ideal #2 hitter is Ryne Sandberg. I know we don't exactly have extra Ryne-O's laying around, but I think you ought to put one of your best hitters in the #2 slot. I would suggest this order:

1. Alfonso Soriano (not because it's best for the lineup, but because I think you get Alfonso Soriano at his best when he's leading off . . . hate that if you want, but it's true)
2. Derrek Lee (even if his power is waning, the dude is a hit machine)
3. Milton Bradley (need a lefty in the top 3 to guarantee the starting pitcher has to change his approach at least once in the first inning)
4. Aramis Ramirez (boom)
5. Geovany Soto (If I'm a pitcher, I hate the Cubs by the time I see Geo standing in the on-deck circle)
6. Ryan Theriot (to me, the 6 hole is a better fit for the prototypical get on base, low-power option--I want 7 and 8 hitters who can drive in runs, not draw a walk in front of the pitcher)
7. Kosuke Fukudome (the addition of Milton Bradley is, in effect, the subtraction of 90% of the pressure on F-dome)
8. Mike Fontenot (I'd love to see him playing every day . . . I think we'd end up seeing a lot of pitchers hitting with two outs and the bases empty after Baby Babe Ruth touches 'em all)

Now, if Soriano ever proved he could hit somewhere other than leadoff, I'd move him down to 5th and have Theriot lead off. I love him there, because I think he brings an energy to the lineup that the rest of the team feeds off of. But I don't like him hitting 2nd nearly as much (no power, and in most cases he's coming to the plate with the bases empty . . . I want someone who can generate a lot of doubles, a la D-Lee).

What about you? If you had to post your lineup, what would it be?

1st spring training game is just two weeks away!!
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