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There are folks who will tell you that lineup construction doesn’t really matter – and they’ll offer you advanced stats to prove it. I’m still a bit unsold in either direction (at bottom, I do agree with the idea that you want to bat your best hitters earlier in the order, as you want them getting the most at bats over the course of a season), but Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum isn’t.

He’s been going around and around in his head about just how to lay the Cubs’ order out, even joking that he’s lost more sleep about the lineup than anything else this Spring. A big part of the issue for Sveum is figuring out where guys are most comfortable, and most likely to perform well. From Paul Sullivan:

[I]n his first year as Cubs manager, Sveum admits he’s losing sleep over where to put his own hitters in the batting order. Using statistical analysis helps give Sveum a picture of who hits best in what spots, but he also has to play amateur psychologist to learn where his players feel most comfortable in the lineup.

“A lot of guys, you can say ‘OK, You’re going to hit here,’ and they’re like, ‘Oh, God, no, don’t do that,’ ” Sveum said. “(The Brewers’) Corey Hart was a little bit like that. Put him in the one or two hole, and he did unbelievable things. But if you put him in the fifth hole, he didn’t really want any part of that.

“Guys are like that. And you try to find out, through conversation, ‘Where do you seem to be most comfortable to where you can be most productive?’ Unfortunately, we live in a little bit of a world like that. Guys have that idea that no matter where they hit, there’s some significance behind it, instead of understanding that you’re going to get pitched the same no matter if you hit leadoff or fifth.

You can appreciate Sveum’s struggle, given his cast of regulars, none of whom clearly falls into a certain role. He’s got a guy who kinda gets on base (David DeJesus), a guy who makes a ton of good contact (Starlin Castro), a few guys with huge power but huge strikeout rates (Ian Stewart, Alfonso Soriano, and Bryan LaHair), another guy who can get on base but catches (Geovany Soto), and another couple guys who make a lot of contact but without a lot of power or on-base ability (Marlon Byrd and Darwin Barney). It’s just not easy putting together a lineup with that crew.

For that reason, I’m thinking we’ll probably have to cut Sveum some slack on the lineup thing (if it matters at all) early in the year.

  • LouCub

    It will be easier when B Jax and Rizzo are up for good and La Hair takes over for numbnuts in LF..

    • Bric

      Seriously, in 30 years I don’t remember so much day to day, non stop controversy about a line up than the last 5 we’ve had Soriano. You wouldn’t think one guy would cause some much angst, questions, and general mischief among managers and fans in regard to who bats where but apparently he can. Eat his salary and trade him to the AL so he can be a wrench in the works of somebody else’s line up. Making a line up ins’t supposed to be rocket science.

      • Jay Anderson Jr

        Trading Soriano would be the dumbest thing Theo could do.

        • CubFan Paul

          Please explain Jay..

          • Jay Anderson Jr

            Sori is a productive, power hitting bat, that’s is over paid. If you trade him, you’ll have to eat tremendous money, and you still won’t be able to replace his production. It’s like I said before, you don’t trade a guy just to trade a guy. It has to serve a purpose. Out of our projected outfield, he’s still the best player we have. We have to spend the money rather we trade him or keep him. He’s better then anything that trading him will bring back, so logic says keep him.

            • Bric

              He’s a productive bat only when the games don’t count. When they do, he’s a cancer on the team. I’ts like frost bite. You keep thinking I can’t cut off my own fingers… but the longer you ignore the pain and suffering, the worse it gets.

  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

    Put the pitcher 9th
    Put Castro 2nd
    Draw the rest out of a hat.

    • Brady

      At the beginning of each game draw again just to keep things fair and spontaneous.

  • Cedlandrum

    The lineup should be easy. You have said DeJesus is leading off. Castro is batting third. Barney needs to hit eighth. Then use your two other lefties to break up the lineup a bit.

    So: DeJesus
    Byrd
    Castro
    LaHair
    Soriano
    Stewart
    Soto
    Barney

    • CubFan Paul

      this is Soto’s see saw “good year” (a projected .280/.360/.475) a move up to 5th or 6th may make the lineup stronger

      dejesus
      byrd
      castro
      lahair
      Soto
      Stewart
      Soriano
      Barney

      but Sveum thinks Soriano can bat 3-4-5, so i have no f’n idea either, nor am i a fan of Castro batting 3rd but it looks like they’ll force that too

      • Canadian Cubs Fan

        This lineup above looks pretty good to me. I’d maybe flip Soriano and Stewart. I think you’re right about Soto having a good year. A lot of this lineup’s success will depend on guys like LaHair and Stewart over achieving.

        • Cheryl

          I don’t think Castro is comfortable batting third. Put Byrd in third and Castro second.

          • CubFan Paul

            Sveum and Jaramillo have been working with Castro on hitting with runners on and 2 strikes/2 outs ..all signs from Sveum point to castro batting third

    • BtownCUB

      DeJesus-L RF
      Castro-R SS
      Stewart-L 3B
      Soriano-R LF
      Byrd-R CF
      LaHair-L 1B
      Soto-R C
      Barney-R 2B

  • Kevin

    Its about time people really start talking about the impact of day baseball. Those of you who don’t believe it just look back at all the stats in August and September at Wrigley Field compared to earlier months of day baseball at Wrigley. I have no doubt in my mind that Theo and company already have a “behind the scenes” plan in place to change the number of day games at Wrigley. Management has spent millions of dollars on a program that provides every stat imaginable, I don’t see this “day game” stat falling through the cracks.

    • Noah

      I’m not sure you’ll find much anything. The problem is that for every player who starts fast and then fades at Wrigley, you can find another who does the opposite. Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez both had slow starts last year and then had pretty good second halfs of the season.

      Beyond that, my issue with it is if transitioning to day games is such a big deal, shouldn’t it be really hard for teams who come in for one series when they play 90% of their home games at night? I’m just not sure you’ll find anything there. The Cubs built a lot of teams, historically, that just weren’t all that good. I think that’s a much bigger issue than day games.

      • Brady

        If you can’t hit the target you blame the gun not the user. That tends to be the reasoning behind the issue.

    • CubFan Paul

      “I have no doubt in my mind that Theo and company already have a “behind the scenes” plan in place to change the number of day games at Wrigley”

      they can’t because of the Neighborhood/city rules/ordinances

  • terencem

    I do not envy Mr. Sveum’s job in the least. I just hope he can survive a couple years with the team because I think he’s an ok guy so far.

    • Brady

      Agreed. So far he seems to be running shop very well and makes sure everyone is giving a damn not just the youngsters. We shall see how he makes the right pitching change decisions during the regular season as that is something Quade massively failed at. Til then I really like him.

  • Eric

    When you get into advanced statistics and projecting line ups, I always wondered how a team would do if you just put the line up in order of OBP – highest first. Probably not well, but it’d be an interesting experiment.

  • jim

    My starting lineup would be:

    DeJESUS
    Castro
    Soriano
    Byrd
    Lahair
    Soto
    Stewart
    Barney

    * Not to bad of a lineup considering what we have.

    • Bart

      This one makes sense. At first glance, Byrd looks strange at clean-up. But, I think this might take pressure off LaHair to produce in a very demanding spot. Byrd has plenty of confidence and seems motivated both by his physical metamorphosis and knowing that he’ll be moved soon to make room for BJax. Call me slow, but I think he can hit over .300 for the first half like he did two years ago as an “All-Star.” Also, Castro produces well from the 2-spot and Soriano gets early at bats so he can rest those aging legs when taken out in the 7th.

      • CubFan Paul

        Byrd failed last year when he batted 3rd for 1st half of the season despite his high average

      • Brady

        Also my thought on having Byrd in between Soriano and Lahair is that since Soriano hits for power and say he drives one, it feels like a waste to have Lahair come up right afterwards and pound another (him also being a power hitter not saying it happens every time). If Byrd can get on base it at least puts someone on for Lahair to drive in if the bases are clear.

  • chris

    speed at the front, RBI hit man at 3, power in the middle, contact at the 7 and 8, with some power at the 9.
    De Jesus
    Barney
    Castro
    Soriano
    Lahair
    Soto
    Byrd
    Stewart

    • Brady

      Do you know a pitcher that consistently hits for power? I sure dont.

  • David

    I’ve never understood why Soto doesn’t get more opportunity higher in the lineup. It’s conceivable that he could have the best OPS in the lineup this year. I would likely go:

    DeJesus
    Castro
    Soto
    Soriano
    LaHair
    Stewart
    Byrd
    Barney

    At least to start the season. Obviously, then things would change quite a bit on the days Soto doesn’t start.

    • DocWimsey

      The “official” justification for not batting catchers high in the order is that you want “stability” at the top of the order, and catchers always sit at least once a week because catching is too brutal to do everyday. However, what any correlation between lineup “stability” and success is a by-product of the correlation between injuries and success: get lots of injuries and you have both an unstable lineup and a lot of loses; avoid injuries and if your team is any good, then you have both a fairly stable lineup and a lot fewer loses. (If your team is bad, then you usually get an unstable lineup as a result: but carts & horses and all of that….)

  • Ben

    We just signed Shawn Camp. Is he decent enought to make our bullpen?

  • Linda

    All of you “experts” forgot the best guy on team – Joe Mather! Awesome player – check his stats!

    • hardtop

      oh linda, why oh why did you go there. i hope you have thick skin because a barrage of contradictory comments are about to come your way.
      cue: kyle

    • Brady

      I will be glad to see him sitting in for people on off days all over the diamond. If he keeps up his bat he is more than welcome but he isn’t fighting for a starting position yet so he isn’t listed. Just as Dewitt, Baker, Campana and Johnson are not listed in any lineups. Now if he does finally catch his groove and keeps up with the way he has been hitting, I am sure a starting spot will probably open for him somewhere as long as everyone else isn’t killing it too, though that is a problem I’d like to have.

  • baseballet

    All this agonizing over lineups is just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I’ll worry about the linups when we have a contending team.

  • Sosacrackers

    Ive been playing around trying to make a lineup with this team for a while. I like
    Dejesus
    Byrd
    Castro
    Soriano
    Soto
    Lahair
    Stewart
    Barney

    Hopefully Jackson and Rizzo can bring some stability.

    • ferrets_bueller

      I like this. Although, I’d like to swap Lahair and Stewart.

      • CubFan Paul

        No way sveum bats either of those guys that low

  • Jeremy

    Id would go:
    Dejesus
    Byrd
    Castro
    Soriano
    Lahair
    Soto
    Stewart
    Barney

    Castro needs to hit 3rd in my opinion because he is our best hitter and can drive in a lot of runs from that position. Plus I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit 15-20 HR’s this year. 20 might be pushing it but I could definetly see 15 HR’s.

    When Rizzo and Jackson come up I would like this line up. Im assuming Byrd gets traded as well as Lahair.

    Dejesus
    Barney
    Castro
    Soriano
    Rizzo
    Soto
    Jackson
    Stewart

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    Dejesus
    Barney
    Castro
    Soriano
    Lahair
    Soto
    Stewart
    Byrd

  • bob

    I think I’d go with:

    DeJesus
    Castro
    Soriano
    LaHair
    Soto
    Byrd
    Stewart
    Barney

    If stewart has a bounce-back kind of year, he can move up, and if Soto doesn’t follow his every-other-year pattern, he can move down.

  • Ivy Walls

    Always two schools of thought. Set the lineup and each player knows his role and can prepare. Change the lineup daily and keep players minds fresh and play the hot hands OR the LaRussa/Cox/Piniella approach, a combination around a core middle of the lineup.

    This club is not built on a regular lineup. No matter what Sveum says publicly or for the psyche’s of the players this team is built around many platoons and until the final day or two we will not know all the parts yet. (Trading appears almost certain in some areas in the position players.) There are some things the Cubs really hope for, Stewart is an everyday 3B but if not the Cubs have Baker who will need AB’s. DeJesus being an everyday RF but again RJohnson will need AB’s. Soriano is an everyday LF but again Mather will need some AB’s. Then there is that final utility IF’er, which is why I really think going north with 11 pitchers is a better option (provided the Cubs have a rubber arm in the bullpen, is that RLopez? who can pitch 80-90 innings), that would leave five real situational relievers; Dolis, Russell, Wood, Marmol and Samardzija(?).

    Thus with this kind of platoon (esp the splits) the front and back end of the line could change almost daily. The trouble is 3-4-5 and possibly six. Is Castro ready for the #3 or is he still the #2, then the set part is 2-3-4-5. I say April Sveum goes for Castro at the 3, so then who is clean up? He appears to be pointing to Soriano, followed by LaHair in the 5 hole. This probably engineers Soto in the 6th spot followed by Stewart.

    That leaves the #1 and #8 hitters as the top of the order in a state of flux, Barney in either spot doesn’t change much of his impact even if he is hitting at the top of his potential, (has that changed with his added muscle, I saw him drive a ball into CF to score a run from 3B), so it comes back to DeJesus, Byrd (or BJackson, hmmm) Is a Byrd a #8 hitter, not if the Cubs want to trade him and do you put a FA in DeJesus in the 8th spot, (well if he is hitting .250), so I think the Cubs go with the hot hands in those spots and see where that leaves things.

  • The Dude Abides

    losing sleep because it just dawned on him he does not have a lead off hitter or anyone who should be batting 3 – 5.

  • die hard

    “Dont cry for me Argentina” is what he shouldnt be singing…hes supposed to be better than Quade and nows time to show it or else Cubs havent gained anything with him….weve had enough excuses from too many managers and manager wanna bes….just give us a lineup and stick with it for 60 days so we can evaluate both you and the lineup…yeeeeesh!!!

    • TWC

      Come ON, Grandpa Simpson!  It’s Spring Training.  You want him to decide a lineup and stick with it *now*?

      • Noah

        I’d also say this idea of having a “set lineup” is vastly overrated. I’d argue that the best manager in the game right now is Joe Maddon. And he, as a matter of course, uses more different lineups than any manager in baseball. He does this to optimize his match ups for every single game.

  • papa_g

    Kessinger – SS
    Beckert – 2nd
    Williams – LF
    Santo – 3B
    Banks – 1B
    Hundley – C
    Hickman – RF
    Young – CF

    • Spriggs

      I will be much happier when Barney and Byrd are not in any lineups.

  • Noah

    I can’t believe anyone thinks a guy who has pretty high odds of having difficulty maintaining an OBP over .300 (Barney) should be batting second. My “standard” lineup against right handed pitching would be:

    RF DeJesus
    SS Castro
    1B LaHair
    LF Soriano
    3B Stewart
    C Soto
    CF Byrd
    2B Barney

    The theory is get your two guys who are fairly likely to be best at getting on base in the first two spots and have guys who can hit home runs behind them. I’d also be fine with putting Soto in the 2 spot and moving everyone down, since Soto draws walks, or flipping Soto and Soriano, since Soto can also hit home runs. But I’m not sure yet where Sveum is on having a catcher who needs regular days off hit in the top half of the lineup. I have a feeling it’s unlikely from him.

    Against LHPs I’d go:
    SS Castro
    1B/3B Baker
    C Soto
    LF Soriano
    CF Byrd
    1B/3B LaHair/Stewart
    RF Johnson
    2B Barney

    I’d rather get Castro the extra PAs than have him bat 3rd against LHPs.

  • Patrick

    Cubs……booze…….spring training……sleep…….bleacher nation.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Better order: Cubs, booze, Bleacher Nation, Spring Training, sleep.

  • Big Joe

    Any lineup the includes Castro batting 3rd is a bad idea.

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