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The Cubs are in Miami today for their first visit to the new Marlins ballpark, their first time facing Carlos Zambrano’s new team (but not Carlos Zambrano), and their first time facing Ozzie Guillen as a National League manager. That last part will be the storyline today, no matter what happens. Not because Ozzie is facing the Cubs, mind you, but because he’s returning to the dugout after a five-game suspension for saying that he “loves” Fidel Castro, the tormentor of Cubans (a huge relocated/second/third-generation community of which resides in Miami).

Steve Clevenger gets the start behind the plate, but Dale Sveum is still doing the whole batting-lefties-back-to-back thing. This time, he’s got all of Clevenger, Ian Stewart, and Bryan LaHair batting in order, with Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano batting in order. All deference due to Sveum, but that’s just stupid. It really is. Especially with a righty pitcher on the mound who typically can’t go too deep into the game. If I’m an opposing manager, I’m smiling when I see that lineup. Well, if there aren’t a bunch of Cuban protestors screaming in my face, that is.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (3-7) at Miami Marlins (4-6), 6:10pm CT on CSN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness. And, of course, for those who aren’t into message board-style game threads, please feel free to use the comments on this post for your in-game commentary/outbursts.

The Series Preview for this series lives here.

Starting Pitchers

Ryan Dempster (0-1, 1.88 ERA, 9.4 K/9)

versus

Josh Johnson (0-2, 8.38 ERA, 19.6 H/9)

Miami Marlins Lineup

1. Jose Reyes, SS

2. Emilio Bonafacio, CF

3. Hanley Ramirez, 3B

4. Logan Morrison, LF

5. Omar Infante, 2B

6. Giancarlo Stanton, RF

7. Gaby Sanchez, 1B

8. John Buck, C

9. Josh Johnson, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, RF

2. Darwin Barney, 2B

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Ian Stewart, 3B

6. Steve Clevenger, C

7. Bryan LaHair, 1B

8. Marlon Byrd, CF

9. Ryan Dempster, P

  • Leo L

    Starting to have my doubts about Svem. Time to make a shout out for Rhyno?

    • Njriv

      no, just no. No offense by it, Its just to early in the season to be hearing the Ryno jibber jabber

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Only if you like cleanup men bunting!  (And please do not say “yes”….)

  • CubFan Paul

    “he’s got all of Clevenger, Ian Stewart, and Bryan LaHair batting in order, with Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano batting in order …that’s just stupid.”

    Agreed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

    I’d like to see someone else playing CF today, but otherwise, this is the line up I prefer, at least until we start calling guys up or doing some trades.

  • Njriv

    I dont get it either, but the reason that would make more sense would be that he’s basing it off of performance more than R/L, but still idk.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

    I’m starting to wonder if there is a statistical argument for clustering the lefties like Sveum has been.  He’s been around baseball too long to make that sort of mistake repeatedly, so I don’t think he sees it as a problem.  If that really was hurting the team’s chances, I think Theo and Jed would have pointed out the benefits of doing otherwise.

    That makes me wonder if Theo and Jed aren’t the ones who suggested lefty-clumps in the first place.  I know the conventional baseball arguments in favor of alternating a line up (and I’ve always bought into them), but conventional baseball wisdom isn’t always right.

    • Njriv

      wonderful game, isnt it?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Well, most of the arguments against clustering lefties come from very particular scenarios: late in close games against teams with a reliever who is dominant against lefties.  However, it is not even a issue of what proportion of games this really important: in what proportion of PAs is this going to happen?  Obviously, a minority: the majority of PAs for that lineup are against right-handed starters.  If batting 2 or 3 lefties in a row increases the number of games in which it’s not close late, then you wind up with more W’s than you otherwise would, even if Joe Sports Talk Radio complains about the few L’s.  Moreover, suppose that it is close late: how often is that because your back-to-back lefties produced an extra run or two to make it close?

      (Look at it this way: if you bat 3 lefties in a row and you don’t see the right-handed starter for the third set of ABs, then the offense has done it’s job.  The game is close only if the pitching [or maybe fielding] has let the team down; in that case, the game is not a blow out in big part because the manager went with 2-3 lefties in a row.)

      Again, it’s Mauch vs. Weaver: you can manage around a few “standout” moments, or you can manage around the majority of moments.  Sveum looks to be doing the latter.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        If it were that simple, the three clustered lefties would be batting higher in the order, not lower.

        In other words, I take Sveum at his earlier word: he believes this set-up DOES give him an advantage in those rare, late-game situations (in his words, it gives him a chance to optimise his use of a righty like Jeff Baker). I was dubious then, and after the Cardinals series where he, like, didn’t actually use Baker that way, I was even more dubious.

    • JustSwain

      I think he does it because he has one of the best pinch hitters in baseball against lefties in Baker, and another solid righty off the bench in Reed Johnson. He’s daring the opposition to bring in a Lefty Reliever, especially a lefty specialist. You bring in your lefty late, Sveum pinch hits Baker, you remove your lefty, then your right handed reliever is up against two lefties. He forces the opposition to pitch to Baker with a lefty, or burn three pitchers in one AB.

  • Cheryl

    Yes, its against convention. I would switch Castro to second, bat Barney eighth, move Clevenger to third and sit Byrd. In Byrd’s place I’d put Mather. Give him another start and see how he does

    • Njriv

      I’m surprised Mather hasn’t played more. He seems to be getting the same amount of playing time Colvin got last year.

      • JustSwain

        Apples and Oranges. The Cubs always saw Mather as a utility player, Colvin was supposed to be our next Right Fielder.

  • hansman1982

    It almost appears as if they are bound and determined to keep those top four together come hell or high water. the only one of those four that look terribly out of place is soriano – it could be that they like the start he is getting off to and don’t want to ruin the mojo.

    • JustSwain

      Or, and guys don’t hurt me, it might just be that Soriano is our best power hitter (Gulp).

    • Spencer

      What do you mean by out of place? Soriano’s batting .313 with 6 RBI.

    • drew

      Barney is the guy that stands out to me as not belonging.

  • HuskerCub

    At the very least move the B-Hair up the order. Why not:

    DeJesus
    Castro
    LaHair
    Sori
    Stewart
    Clevenger
    Barney
    Mather/Johnson/Byrd

    • Njriv

      seems good to me

    • ETS

      I like that, but I still like seeing Castro bat in front of Sori. If he stays in front of Sori all season, he’ll steal 30+ bags.

    • Cheryl

      I like it too.

  • Dan M

    (I am not at all insensitive to the nature and inappropriateness of Ozzie’s comments. That said . . . )

    Unconfirmed rumors have groups of Dominicans, pretending to be Cubans, flooding into the stadium with custom t-shirts reading:

    “We love Castro, too! We Sveum here just to see him!”

    Sorry, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to all at once make make a corny Cubs joke, make fun of Ozzie, and make a Seinfeld reference.

    With that out of the way, I really hope this lineup manages to hold off Josh Johnson’s return to form for at least one more start. There has to be some logic/stats behind the lefty-righty thing. Maybe three straight lefties who’ve been hitting the ball hard keeps Johnson a little more honest instead of knowing he’s got a righty coming up again right away, which might allow him to pitch around the lefties a bit? I may be reaching.

    • Ron

      You might be onto something here. Sveum is actually putting together a mixed softball league lineup without the boy girl boy girl rule.

  • Patty P

    Easily the best post of the season

  • Cubs Dude

    The lefty in order thing is defentely weird, but Sveum has to be doing it for a reason. He can’t be that dumb..

  • SouthernCub

    That monstrosity in CF is the most F’d up thing on earth, I mean WTF is that supposed to be ?! Good God I hope someone sets fire to it.

    • JustSwain

      Have you seen it go off? Its downright silly looking. The big giant marlin that pops up doesn’t swim, he just rotates 360 degrees. I swear once they installed it they moved the fence back 10 feet so they wouldn’t have to worry about players demoralized by their own home runs.

    • http://!? Houston Transplant

      The green walls are even worse. I just got finished watching the ‘Stros play a series in Miami. I find it to be a monstrosity of a ballpark. So over the top…I know what I think they MEANT to do with the joint, but it’s just so…ugly. Blech. Those green walls…at first I thought they were clad in green screen material. Talk about new means of advertising. Then I realized they were just ugly green walls.

      • JustSwain

        I think you just figured out a genius way to bring new advertising revenue to Wrigley! All they have to do is paint part of that new Patio in Right that “Green Screen” color so fans don’t have to worry about jumbotrons, but advertisers can still buy massive ad spaces! Theo, if you are reading this, HT gets 9% of ad revenues for his idea, and I get 1% as a finders fee.

        • http://!? Houston Transplant

          I’d take that deal! Ha.

  • czechxican

    Seems Like Old Times: Kerry Wood and shoulder to miss Marlins series

    • Spencer

      Not a good sign when you need a shot 10 games into the season.

      • czechxican

        we never learn, do we? the guy will be revered as one of our greatest ever, for getting us so SO close. But really, would it have been so bad if we had just given Kerry one last standing ovation (like we did for Maddux) before trading him? I would’ve been fine with it. But, this Kerry Wood isn’t what I want to hear about.

  • al

    Attn: Kerry Wood Fans

    Your clubhouse leader may not be available to pitch. I heard he “went home” to get a cortisone shot. Ricketts can be excused for his blunder of wanting Wood on the team as long as he stays out of it in the future.

  • ty

    So now we probably know why he threw 2 and one third innings in all of spring training. See you in Mesa Woody.

  • ibcnu2222 (John)

    Why is Lahair batting 7th?

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    There are approximately 15 people at the game. Clearly the protests kept fans away…

  • Mike S

    Inning 4:

    Infield hit by Barney (hustle)
    2 strike approach by Starlin Castro (base hit)
    1st to 3rd baserunning by Barney (hustle/guts)
    Stolen base by Castro (guts)
    2 strike groundball RBI out by Soriano (approach/guts)

    GREAT BASEBALL. PERIOD.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      But what followed kind of sucked.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      You see “guts” and “hustle” where they really do not exist.  Anybody would have beat out Barney’s hopper due to the crazy first hop.  Going to first to third was easy on a groundball single because the OFers play so deep due to the dimensions of the park.  (Only Stanton has any arm, too.)  Castro stealing is only a little “gutsy” and it proved to be irrelevant to the inning, anyway.  And Sori’s grounder was just a grounder: it produced an RBI only because of a Baltimore Chop and a seeing eye grounder preceding it.

      Same events, different adjectives!  (This is deconstructionism at it’s best….  :cool:)

      What followed sucked, but it’s not like the Cubs were drilling the ball and then started missing it.  The BABiP goddess smiled for a little bit before turning her tempestuous attentions elsewhere…..

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Sometimes I’m surprised you even enjoy watching the games, Doc. I never thought someone could make me sound like Dusty Baker, but it ain’t all luck and numbers.

        Emilio Bonafacio on the base paths tonight is proving that.

        Bah. I’m just crotchety because the Cubs are pissing me off tonight.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          heh, statisticians love baseball for the luck and numbers!  My point is that one can spin these things however they like: we never should assume that we can read what’s going on in someone’s head.  (OK, we rarely should assume that: sometimes it is obvious!)  After all, we can rest assured that Marlins fans were describing hat same inning as luck and lackadaisical play by the Marlins.  (No doubt an artifact of Castro-loving managers, too….)  In their descriptions, the Cubs were not relevant.

          But, again, what the difference in this game was that the losers (here, the Cubs) gave up more extra base hits and more walks than did the other team (here, the Marlins).  Yes, there were some stolen bases: but they were essentially gratuitous.  Lack of control by Cubs pitcher (one in particular) combined with good batting eyes and good pop by some Marlins hitters was the difference.

          So, I really do enjoy watching (or, more often, listening) to baseball.  What I enjoy is watching Cubs (or Sox) batters work counts and drive the ball, and Cubs (or Sox) pitchers pound the plate with strikes.  And, yes, this game made me grouchy, too…

  • sean allums

    This is just painful. Pure and simple.

  • sean allums

    What’s so maddening is that when they went down 2-1, u just get the feeling that the game is basically over. Demp pitching his ass off once again and will probably have nothing to show for it.

  • Mike S

    The cubs scored a run on a infield base hit and a seeing eye single. They manufactured that run and that is a plus. Not every team is going to run out a 2 hopper to the shortstop, and go first to third on a base hit, and have your leading strikeout candidate choke up and go the other way to make a positive out. That’s guts. That’s hustle. That’s what Sveum is producing.

    The 2011 Cubs didn’t do that.

  • Lucas

    Reed Johnson needs to be starting in center.

    • Matt3

      yes I agree

  • Matt3

    yes sir, he certainly should be

  • H

    Lahair at 7 instead of 5 really and Byrd should be releases you could get as many hits bunting every time

  • czechxican

    jeez. this bullpen…

  • Ryan

    Darwin Barney reminds me so much of Ryan Theriot, it’s eerie. I realize he won a couple national championships in college, but I think he is a losing baseball player. He may have had 3 rather meaningless singles today early in the game, but when the game mattered late he choked big time, with the grounding into double player, and the ridiculous error he made to start this inning. For a guy who has absolutely no power, he is way too aggressive of a hitter, and simply refuses to take walks. I’m not just basing this off this game alone, it’s a trend starting from last year. Also he just doesn’t seem like a very smart baseball player, I think he’s a terrible baserunner, and I don’t mean he has no speed, I just think he gets picked off much too often. He just to me is at best a backup middle infielder, and I think that might be going too far, I honestly don’t think he belongs in the major leagues.

    • czechxican

      couldn’t agree more. The Theriot reference is pretty accurate so far in his career. Why can’t he ever pull the ball? just makes outs or singles, sprinkled with an occasional double. And don’t get me started with walks. This whole team has been a bunch of Sammy Sosa’s swinging like they own the place up until this year. Now, they just slap the ball, but they still don’t care to take pitches. Hope it drives Jed and Theo crazy as well

    • morgan

      thats the whole cub team, its not how many, its when they get there hits, and castro is the only player on the team that gets clutch hits, Byrd is prob the worst clutch hitter ive ever seen, and the rest are worthless as well

    • hansman1982

      fuuny:

      “it’s a trend starting from last year”

      so basically, his entire MLB career?

  • morgan

    the good thing about this game is that dempster pitches another good game, which means his trade value is going up

  • drew

    “Why can’t he ever pull the ball?”

    What makes me nervous is I think this is exactly why Sveum hits him 2nd, going along with that tired-ass baseball adage that says you want a good contact hitter who hits the other way in that spot.

    Here’s a thought: Why not be patient, pick a pitch you can drive, and hit it where its pitched! If I watch Barney rollover on another pitch out of the zone with 0 or 1 strikes, Im gonna scream.

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