He’s a player’s manager, but he’s also a tough guy. He likes having veteran presence, but he holds everyone equally accountable. And, when it comes to advanced stats and managerial methods, Sveum is all over it.
But he might also be a little bit “old school,” too. To wit, from the Tribune:
New Cubs third baseman Ian Stewart will not be in a platoon situation with Jeff Baker, though he will have to prove he can hit left-handers in the early going.
Stewart batted .156 last season for the Rockies and was 2-for-22 (.091) in limited at-bats against lefties. Baker hit .314 against lefties in 2011 and has a career average of .309 off southpaws.
“All that stuff is day to day, how they’re swinging it at the time and what they have been doing against lefties or this kind of lefty,” manager Dale Sveum said. “Not every lefty is the same. … A guy is swinging the bat good, you still need that guy in the lineup.
“I’m sure (Stewart is) going to get days off against lefties. When you have a guy like Baker who can play multiple positions and kills lefties, you have to find him at-bats.”
Sveum added “there is no platoon situation in mind for anybody” in his regular lineup.
I can certainly understand why Sveum is saying this now. First of all, there are no *obvious* strict platoons in the offing for the Cubs, based on the current roster. Second of all, there would be very little point in setting up a platoon before even the first Spring Training game.
So, in that respect, I have no beef with Sveum’s position.
But, when the season rolls around, as Sveum hints, there will be very little reason not to ensure that Jeff Baker is playing in every single game against a lefty, and one of Bryan LaHair, Ian Stewart, or David DeJesus is sitting. Given that Baker can play each of first base, third base, and right field, there’s no defensive obstacle to the arrangement. And we all know what Baker did against lefties last year (.314/.349/.463 in 129 plate appearances). He needs to be in the lineup against lefties.
As for the presumed three lefty regulars in the lineup, it’s probably worth reiterating their career splits (which aren’t all bad):
Ian Stewart, for his career, goes .223/.320/.406 against lefties, which actually isn’t that far off from his .240/.324/.435 line against righties. If one of the three lefties is going to be an everyday player, Stewart is probably the best bet (assuming, you know, he hits at all).
David DeJesus, on the other hand, has a much more stark split. While he’s slapped righties around in his career (.292/.368/.447), he has struggled a fair bit against lefties (.264/.328/.362). When DeJesus sits against tough lefties, as he should, it will probably be Reed Johnson (or Dave Sappelt, if he makes the roster) picking up the starts.
Bryan LaHair doesn’t have much in the way of big league splits at which to look, he has just 219 total plate appearances. But, in them, he’s gone .286/.345/.435 against righties, but just .147/.293/.206 against lefties (42 plate appearances). Perhaps, against lefties, this is where Baker would best settle in for semi-regular starts.
Maybe that won’t be a “platoon,” but here’s hoping Sveum sees the sense in something approximating one.