This is only the beginning.

The top of the lineup will continue to be a discussion throughout the offseason, and yes, the regular season. Naturally, Lou Piniella and Jim Hendry got questions on the subject at the Convention this weekend. So what are there thoughts?

But this is where the Cubs seem to get stuck: When Soriano led off during the 2008 regular season, the Cubs went 69-36. When someone else led off, they were 28-28.

”We win a strong, strong percentage of games when he bats first,” general manager Jim Hendry said. ”And when he doesn’t bat first, our winning percentage is not that good. So I just don’t get it. We wouldn’t have won the two division titles without him, even with his game changing a little bit and the injuries taking away his ability to steal 40 or 50 bags.” CHICAGO SUN-TIMES.

Ok, both Chris DeLuca (who wrote the article) and Jim Hendry are conflating Alfonso Soriano out of the leadoff spot with Alfonso Soriano out of the lineup. No one is even remotely suggesting taking Soriano out of the lineup.

More after the jump.

That 69-36 when Soriano lead off, and 28-28 when someone else lead off comment sure sounds solid. Except when you realize, “hey wait, when someone else lead off, it was usually because Soriano wasn’t in the lineup at all.”

”Let’s take a look at this thing. I like Alfonso in the leadoff spot. With the left-handed hitting we have now and the fact we have a little more speed, it changes a lot what other teams can do to us. So let’s just leave things alone right now, go to spring training and take a look.”

That was Lou’s take.

Hey Lou… what in the world does having more lefties and speed have to do with Soriano in the leadoff spot? First of all, what more speed? Second, the only way this makes any sense at all is if Lou is talking about the guys batting behind Soriano in the 2 and 3 hole – which, as things stand, don’t look appreciably different than they did last year. Is Lou hinting that Milton Bradley is going to be batting higher than 4th (as he should)? I doubt it. My guess is he’s talking about Miles/Fontenot in the 2-hole, and I assure you, Lou, that won’t cause pitchers to pitch Soriano any differently than they did when he had Theriot behind him – lefties or not.

  • savant

    Since this is a Soriano article I am technically going to be going to far off of topic. I really do not worry very much about batting order, because it really has been shown to be way overblown by radio talk show hosts and message boards. Soriano, Lee, Ramirez, and Bradley need to be in the first five spots, I don’t particularly care where.

    I am a bit pissed that we need to worry about Soriano’s comfort level, if a $136 million doesn’t make you comfortable how am I to believe that your position in the batting order will. What has me a lot pissed off about Soriano is how poor of an outfielder he still is. He has had three seasons to get better, and he looked worse last year than he ever has before. He has all of the tools to be a great outfielder, he just has not made a commitment to master his craft.

  • Ace

    Yes, Soriano’s defense has been disappointing. His arm is the bee’s knees, but his approach is terrifying.

    And I generally agree with you that the order is less important than who is at the top, but the guy at the very top is going to see 50 to 70 more plate appearances than the guy in the 5 spot. So it is still important.