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The Cubs are using an eclectic lineup today against youngster Kyle Kendrick, who fills in for Cliff Lee. With Matt Garza going for the Cubs, this feels like a “should win,” if not a “must win.” I’m not sure “must win” games exist yet for the Cubs. In fact, I’m not sure the Cubs will play a single “must win” game all year.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (7-13) at Philadelphia Phillies (9-11), 12:35pm CT on WGN and MLBN.

Game Thread and Series Preview

The Game Thread lives here. You should participate in the madness by clicking on me. 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

Matt Garza (1-1, 3.38 ERA, 8.8 K/9)

versus

Kyle Kendrick (0-1, 9.39 ERA, 17.6 H/9)

Philadelphia Phillies Lineup

1. Jimmy Rollins, SS

2. Juan Pierre, LF

3. Hunter Pence, RF

4. Ty Wigginton, 3B

5. Shane Victorino, CF

6. Laynce Nix, 1B

7. Brian Schneider, C

8. Freddy Galvis, 2B

9. Kyle Kendrick, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. Tony Campana, CF

2. Darwin Barney, 2B

3. Starlin Castro, SS

4. Bryan LaHair, 1B

5. Jeff Baker, RF

6. Ian Stewart, 3B

7. Joe Mather, LF

8. Welington Castillo, C

9. Matt Garza, P

  • Cheryl

    Should be good with ampana leading off. Mather in left and Baker in right. I like this lineup.

    • Drew

      It makes me want to vomit.

      I’d really like to see Cardenas playing up the middle right now. I can’t take anymore Jeff Baker without dry-heaving.

  • Evan

    Why is Baker getting a start against a righty? And why on earth is he hitting fifth, especially against a righty?

  • dabynsky

    Campana and Barney at the top of the order is a pretty impressive lack of power.

    • Andrew

      Barney has more home runs than Soriano

      • dabynsky

        They also have a combined 4 career homers in the big leagues and 16 if you want to add in minor league numbers.

        • cubfanincardinalland

          Batting guys with speed in the hopes of getting on base for the 3 4 and 5 hitters and setting the table. What a crazy idea.

          • Drew

            Wouldnt call it crazy, more like, “traditional”

          • dabynsky

            With those two it is more hope of getting on base than reality.

  • Willis

    Sveum’s lineups leave me scratching my head.

  • cubfanincardinalland

    Question about something that is getting on my nerves. Bryan LaHair has been a great surprise so far this season. Shown excellent plate discipline, ability to hit lefthanders, hitting to all fields with power, and playing a decent 1B. Either he or Castro have been the teams best hitter so far hands down.
    But all I hear is he is just a journeyman, we need to trade him to get value, not a long term solution at 29 years old(oh my gosh, break out the rocking chair).
    Well let’s compare that perception to that of David Freese of the Cardinals, who is considered an up and coming star, St. Louis would not even think of trading him.
    Freese is also 29 years old. He has played 203 games with 674 at bats. LaHair has played 83 games with 246 at bats. LaHair has a higher slugging percentage and higher OPS.
    Please explain why Freese is considered a huge asset, while our 29 year old newcomer is just a stop gap. The guy has shown he can hit and play. Seems to me those are the guys we should be keeping, and move on the guys who are stinking it up and on the decline.

    • Cheryl

      Good observation. I agree.

    • Chris S

      Damn, I didn’t know Frese was 29.. Well said.. I can’t answer it.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      One quick, off the cuff reason is that Freese, unlike LaHair, was long a well-regarded prospect who was only in the minors for three years before debuting – and succeeding – in the bigs. Injuries were the only thing stringing Freese’s career out. For LaHair, it was an inability to look like a Major Leaguer in Spring Training, and in limited looks in the bigs until last year.

      • Jay Anderson Jr

        Brett, didn’t LaHair change his swing and approach when he signed with the Cubs. I recall reading an article or something like that a while ago. This would explain why he’s having success now.

        Also, wasn’t he also a highly re-guarded prospect once upon a time.

        • KyleNovak

          His power numbers definitely improved after he began working with Von Joshua in Iowa. Sometimes it takes a couple of adjustments to untap the power potential in a player.

          But anyone signed in the 39th round was *never* considered a top-prospect. At that point, teams were taking a flyer thinking he might be able to bolster their minor league depth. To his credit, to even get to the majors after being drafted so late has been a testament to LaHair’s latent ability, openness to instruction and thorough work habits.

      • cubfanincardinalland

        LaHair was tearing it up in the minors when he was 22 in AA and 23 years old in AAA. He was in the big leagues when he was 25. Seattle gave up on him way to quick(they have averaged 67 wins a season since 08), and he never really was given a fair shot. Great example of how baseball people get perceptions in their heads to their detriment.
        Yet they will run a guy like Soriano out there every day, because he is streaky and we might miss his one month hot streak for the year.

        • dabynsky

          I agree that LaHair might not have gotten a fair chance, but he did get a shot after not performing particularly well in his age 24 and 25 seasons at AAA. He didn’t really put up a solid full year in Triple A until he was repeating the level for the fourth time which is why there was and is some healthy skepticism about his recent performance at the big league level.

    • FromFenwayPahk

      LaHair and Freese: This is like a zen koan. The power seems to be in the question as much as any answer (although Brett hazards a dandy one here). Good post, cubsfan.

    • KyleNovak

      It’s about a couple of things:

      1) LaHair hasn’t had a large enough sample-size at the MLB-level to justify his legitimacy as a regular going forward. And truth be told, there are a lot of comparisons to older “AAAA” type players of yore that bring up legitimate points of concern.

      2) While his overall numbers look good, his BABIP (unsustainable) is driving his average up and his K-rate is a big concern. At this point the Cubs are playing with house money and getting great results, but it remains to be seen whether that will continue throughout the season. I personally believe that even with a decrease in BABIP, his K-rate will decrease as the Cubs start to play more middling and lesser competition. Like I’ve mentioned before, if his walk-rate of 8-10% stays constant, he could end up as 85-90% of Carlos Pena with the bat. Even against tougher pitchers, his power has been on display, hitting doubles and homers to the opposite field on some real tough pitches out of the zone. He could end up doing A) what I mentioned above, or B) have his BABIP regress AND keep striking out too much, not be able to adjust and as a result, have an uncertain future in MLB. I fully believe in A, but B could very well happen. Luckily the Cubs have a bit of time to find out with Rizzo’s service time playing into the equation.

      3) Aside from injury concerns, David Freese has performed at every level in the minors and jumped right into MLB as a 1.5-2.0 bWAR player with value as a third baseman. That in itself has shown why a player like Freese is a safer bet than LaHair at the same age. LaHair got a cup of coffee in MLB, didn’t do well (FWIW, he was injured), and has been stuck in the minors into a late age (in an earlier post, I attributed a lot of that to circumstances, always being stuck behind a different MLB free agent). Freese has shown he can play at a plus-level in a bigger sample-size over multiple years, LaHair hasn’t.

      I am really pulling for LaHair, real low draft pick, hard worker, good guy, and so far he is getting a chance and taking advantage. It’s a great story. But I reiterate. . . there are many legitimate reasons to be skeptical, and you can’t let the gushy “good story” cloud the truth. The good news is, we have Rizzo waiting, so we aren’t putting all of our eggs in one basket with LaHair. We’ll just have to wait and see.

      • FromFenwayPahk

        Suddenly I hear one hand clapping. It’s louder than ya’d think.

    • Cubs Dude

      Cubsfan, I hear exactly what you’re saying. I think there is an absolute fascination with people wanting their players to be young, especially on a team that is not contending in the current year. I think fans, media, and even front office people become so pre-occupied by how old a guy is that they forget to take a step back and truly look at a player like LaHair. And consider that he developed later, than traditional studs. Even with a high babip, IMO there is no arguing that his on base skills and power could be great in the mlb.
      I wish people would stop trying to figure out what LaHair will fail (with talk of babip, age, strikeouts) and just sit back and enjoy the ride. Maybe the Cubs have lucked into something that can be extremely special for the next 5-7 yrs. Or maybe not, but at least he looks a hell of a lot better than the other scrubs they throw out there daily now.

      • Kyle

        I think it’s very easy to argue that both his on-base skills and his power will not be great in MLB.

        Guys who strike out in 33% of their at-bats do not have long-term success in the majors.

        I am perfectly capable of both enjoying the ride and knowing that he will likely fail in the long run.

    • art

      agree, and when Rizzo is ready, LaHair can platoon in LF or be a good bat off the bench.

  • Cheryl

    Didn’t a lot of you want Campana leading off? And, didn’t you want Soriano out of the lineup? Well, that’s done.

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    Makes more sense to bat Castillo at 5, between LaHair and Stewart. Baker should be 8, and that’s only if you agree that he should be playing at all against a Righty.

    Let’s see. Bench LaHair against Lefties but play Baker against righties. Hmmmm.

  • brittney

    I’m not a baker fan but LaHair’s back might be bothering him today. That seems to be the logical reason to bench him against a righty when he is hitting them like a red headed step child!

    • Evan

      LaHair is in the lineup, it’s DeJesus that Baker is replacing.

      • brittney

        I realized that after I posted it. I don’t know why baker, id much rather have dejesus in the line up today

        • Bric

          Why? I’m pretty much “mehh” on both of them so you may as well give them both playing time.

  • Cubs1967

    any more line-ups like today and soon it will be time to call sveum dale quade. WOW– bad.
    time to play mather at 3b; stewart looks like what we thought he was; a .151 hitter in colorado last year that could never get promoted back up after being sent down in may. ouch.

  • Kevin

    If you look at Rizzo at bats last year in the majors he didnt hit nearly as well as LaHair is hitting right now. I’m a firm believer that way too much emphasis is put on what round the player is drafted. If you can’t give LaHair a fair chance given which round he was drafted then why even have so many rounds in the draft? Am I the only one who thinks this way?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      The doubt of LaHair has literally nothing to do with where he was drafted. It does, however, have a tiny bit to do with when he was drafted (10 years ago).

    • JustSwain

      Kevin, go look at Rizzo’s highlights on MiLB.com and you’ll probably see why everyone is excited to see him come up.

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

    LaHair has one of the most beautiful strokes I’ve seen from a hitter. Between his stance, posture and swing, it’s just perfect.

    • bacboris

      That’s always a dangerous comment. Without any criticism intended, that’s exactly what I said about Hoffpauir a couple of years ago. And I’ve had to eat crow from more than a few friends over the years for that one.

  • Cubs Dude

    Hi everyone, my name is Brian Lahair. All I did last year was lead the minor universe in every offensive category. So far this year I am leading the majors in OBP and hitting near .400. Yet all everyone can do is talk about is my age, my babip, and my age.. Hey everyone, yes I am an older prospect, and figured it out late. I only swing at strikes, work the shit out of the count, and do K a good amount. But when my OBP is .500 do you really care?????????????????

    • Kyle

      If he can keep up his .620 BABIP, I look forward to his HOF induction.

      • Cubs Dude

        I am not looking to make the HOF. Just prove that I am a legit mlb first baseman. I know my “BABIP” will come back to earth. But I think that with my power, my eye, and my ability to use all fields I am a VERY useful MLB first baseman.

        • JustSwain

          eye? Really? You strike out A TON for a guy with a good eye.

  • Kyle

    But on the other hand, the magnitude of LaHair’s hot streak at this point pretty much guarantees him an adequate end-of-year line. The gamble has more or less already paid off.

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

    Bases loaded for Marmol, this is new…Let’s see if he can manage to throw away another 4 runs and screw over our team again.

  • Evan

    Marmol is about to blow it…

  • drew

    What a game by Garza! Keith Moreland made me want to strangle him, but other than that it was a great day.

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