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In my mind, the whole crosstown rivalry, BP Cup, whatever else piece of tonight’s game just took a HUGE backseat to the lineup (and it had already taken a backseat to Ryan Dempster hitting the DL).

Bryan LaHair is starting in right field, and David DeJesus is playing center field.

The implications of that long-awaited move are many, but here’s the biggest one: the Cubs are telling the rest of the baseball world that they are fully prepared to play LaHair in right field when Anthony Rizzo is ready to be called up. Why are they telling the baseball world this? Because if they don’t, teams can continue to call the Cubs’ bluff in trade talks about Alfonso Soriano. Until the Cubs found a non-first-base spot for LaHair, they were in a real bind with when they could call up Rizzo – namely, they had to move Soriano before they could call up Rizzo (so that LaHair could play in left field). In other words, if you’re the Orioles, and the Cubs are trying to sell you on Soriano, it was very easy to respond: “Yeah, but in a couple weeks, when you call up Rizzo, you’re going to have to figure out what to do with Soriano anyway. We’ll take our chances that your price goes way down.” The Cubs have thrown down the glove and said, “You don’t want to take on any of Soriano’s salary? Fine. We’ll keep him. See, we can work this just fine.”

And you know how I know all of this is true? Tony Campana is starting in left field. If this wasn’t about showing the world that LaHair can play right (and, instead, was just about getting him into the outfield), Campana would have been in his usual center, DeJesus in his usual right, and LaHair in left. I’m not being dramatic here, people: this is a clear, aggressive statement by the Cubs that they can go Soriano-DeJesus-LaHair in the outfield if they have to. (And, to be clear, the Cubs probably also want to get some game looks at LaHair in the outfield in advance of actually calling up Rizzo.)

Whew. Busy, busy afternoon.

Playing LaHair in right field also allows the Cubs to demonstrate a couple other things, namely that (hopefully) LaHair can handle right field, and that (hopefully) DeJesus can handle center field. Should the Cubs look to deal those two in July, increasing their perceived versatility can’t hurt.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (22-44) at Chicago White Sox (35-31), 7:10pm CT on WCIU.

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

Matt Garza (2-5, 4.04 ERA, 3.50 xFIP)

versus

Zach Stewart (1-1, 5.18 ERA, 3.95 xFIP)

Chicago White Sox Lineup

1. Alejandro De Aza, CF

2. Gordon Beckham, 2B

3. Adam Dunn, DH

4. Paul Konerko, 1B

5. Alex Rios, RF

6. A.J. Pierzynski, C

7. Dayan Viciedo, LF

8. Alexei Ramirez, SS

9. Orlando Hudson, C

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, CF

2. Starlin Castro, SS

3. Bryan LaHair, RF(!!!)

4. Alfonso Soriano, DH

5. Steve Clevenger, 1B

6. Darwin Barney, 2B

7. Luis Valbuena, 3B

8. Geovany Soto, C

9. Tony Campana, LF

  • GeorgeHermanLaHair

    You’ve got yesterdays SP’s in there sir

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Haha. Too much excitement.

  • Joepoe123

    Wow Dodgers LHP prospect Chris Reed also put on DL!

  • Joepoe123

    I think Luke could be right!

  • Njriv

    Why isnt LaHair in Left, Campana in Center and DeJesus in right?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      For the reason I said.

      • Njriv

        Haha cant believe I missed that. Thanks.

    • MichiganGoat

      Too show that we’re okay with the Sori, DeJesus, LaHair outfield. I think Brett said the same above.

  • SirCub

    So they essentially are subbing Geovany Soto for Tony Campana. Can’t figure out how they did it, but I like it!

  • rbreeze

    Well this will be interesting.  I wish I was a fly on the wall in the war room with Theo and the gang!!!  This is going to be a fun run to the end of the trade deadline.   I like the lineup.  If we could just get some hits with men on base!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • WGNstatic

    I posted this in the other thread, thought it made more sense here…

    Hmmm…

    That is in an interesting OF alignment for today: DeJesus in CF, Campana in LF, and LaHair in RF. This really does seem like a trial balloon on an OF of Soriano, DeJesus and LaHair.

    1) If you want to DH Soriano, why not use Mather as your LF, LaHair at 1B, Campana in CF and DeJesus in RF.

    2) Even more telling… If you really want Clevenger in the game at 1B… Why not put LaHair in LF with Campana and DeJesus in their normal positions? That would be a better defensive OF with DeJesus covering RF and Campana more able to make up ground in CF.

    I like this idea, it may not be a great defensive alignment, but what the heck.

  • Kyle

    Soooo much first-to-third happening tonight for the Black Sox.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      True.  However, I think that an OF of Sori-DeJesus-LaHair will create many more runs with their bats relative to the usual OF than they will cost with their mitts relative to the usual OF.  (Of course, neither Johnson nor Campana are particularly good in CF…)

  • Carew

    I love this lineup

  • ottoCub

    Here’s hopin’ Soriano crushes as a DH again! I agree totally with your analysis about the outfield alignment — teams are definitely interested in Soriano as a DH, and the Cubs are showing that LaHair can play right if Sori stays. Also very possible that teams are interested in DeJesus as a utility outfielder, so it’s good to get him some reps in center. And since nobody is interested in Campana, there’s no need to showcase him anywhere. So he plays left.

    • ottoCub

      Also (slightly) possible that teams are interested in LaHair, so it can’t hurt to show that he can play 1B, right, left, and DH. He played a lot of LF in the minors.

  • calicubsfan007

    In Ben Stein’s voice: “yay. geovanny’s back. i can’t contain my excitement.” I can’t wait until he is gone. At least they are trying out LaHair in the outfield and Baker isn’t playing first.

  • Joepoe123

    Ummmm hello dodgers highly touted LHP prospect Chris Reed to DL on the same day dempster goes to DL lukes theory is coming more and more true

    • calicubsfan007

      Joepoe: Good point . Luke would definetly have an idea with these kinds of things. Wouldn’t mind getting Reed for Demp.

    • Jp

      While I love luke’s theory at what date can 2011 draft picks get traded? Could we even get reed yet?

      • hansman1982

        They can be PTBNL’d right now and traded after August whatever date the deadline is (or is it 1 year after they sign?)

      • gocatsgo2003

        Pretty sure it’s July 16, 2012 according to this link:

        http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/schedule/important_dates.jsp

        However, I could be reading that wrong. Conveniently, the Cubs have an off day on July 16.

        If correct, it could add to the conspiracies — 15 days on the DL would probably mean Dempster gets one more start before the all-star break, then could be stashed through the all-star break with the rotation getting reset for the three-game set with the D’Backs coming out of the break.

  • Cee-Dee-Vee

    Brett, you are a genius! I wouldn’t of thought about the whole Orioles thing if it wasn’t for you.

  • TakingWrigleyToSaoPaulo

    Too much irony that Chris Reed is put on the DL on the same day as Demp when rumors were strong that the Dodgers were the frontsrunners. Reed is not THE top prospect in the system but a good one, not to mention a left handed pitcher, a focus of theo and company. Also, his bonus payment was 20% of Zach Lee’s so it’s an easier pill to swallow.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      “That’s not irony, it’s just a coincidence.”

  • mudge

    Aye, a great analysis. Why haven’t they tried Soriano in right since he’s got the arm for it? I’m still wondering why Castro doesn’t lead off with DeJesus hitting second.

    • Drew7

      Castro doesnt get on-base enough to leadoff.

      RF at Wrigley is arguably the hardest OF spot in the NL, and Soriano’s D is, well, subpar.

    • GoldFinch

      I would try Castro leading followed by DeJesus. Coming into this year Castro had about a .343 OBP while DeJesus has a career .356 OBP, DeJesus being just slightly better. However, Castro on base would seem to be far more dangerous running the bases. I think the Cubs should at least try it. This the season to do it.

      • Drew7

        I wouldnt be furious if he hit Castro 1, but personally, id prefer the guy with the better isoD, and thats DeJesus.

  • dob2812

    Excellent analysis Brett.

    Wow this is the most interesting Cubs lineup in forever. Front-officing it up…

    I love it.

  • dob2812

    This is the kind of thing the Rays would do in their sleep. That the Cubs are even attempting it makes me very, very happy.

  • Cubs Dude

    I love the breakdown Brett, but man that is one scary thought of a defensive outfield. Flatout scary..

  • Evenbetternewsv2.0

    Can’t be any worse than what has been used this whole season.

  • TakingWrigleyToSaoPaulo

    People on the Dodger forum are freaking out (Demp for Reed). Incredibly entertaining how one rumor can get people to threaten to stop watching baseball… Hope it happens.

    • Segal27

      What is the link to this forum? I’m in the mood to laugh

      • whiteflag

        me too…link please

  • Eric S

    Am I the only one that noticed that Clevenger is at first? WOW! That’s one crazy little lineup Dale is pulling out of his hat. At the very least it’ll be fun too watch. Why not? Mix it up and get some looks where you can.

    • GoldFinch

      Clevenger has first base experience.

  • MaxM1908

    Just got back from the pub in London and saw this lineup. Awesome! I finally feel confident that they’ll be able to score some runs tonight. Sorry I’ll be asleep during the game. Go Cubs!

  • Jesse

    Just gonna have to see how this turns out.. When they resume playing NL teams I wonder what it will be like.

  • mudge

    I think Castro is more likely to learn patience leading off than batting second. DeJesus seems like an ideal second hitter.

  • ProfessorCub

    I love the L-R-L configuration of this lineup. Finally, we’ll make the opposing SP have to get out of the groove and throw to different sides of the plate.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Pitching does not work that way anymore.  Pitchers are throwing to the blue parts of the Heat Zones that they memorize on their smart phones before games.  (In case they haven’t, then the coaches calling the pitches have the info.)  Not all lefties have the same Heat Zones any more than all righties do.  This probably is the single biggest reason for the ascendancy of pitchers in recent years: more than ever before, they can pitch to the weaknesses of individual hitters.

      • ProfessorCub

        That’s true, but there has to some L vs. R meta-tendency, no? (seriously, I’m asking)

        • ProfessorCub

          If nothing else, it’s visually different for the pitcher to have a L vs. R batter up there…?

      • DocPeterWimsey

        They have the heat zones broken down by lefty/right and types of pitches.  A few people have suggested that what makes the heat zones work so well is that the pitchers can visualize those independently of other things: in a sense, it’s the target they’ve always been trying to imagine anyway.  That would make the batter irrelevant.  (Of course, I’m sure that some pitchers are better at blocking out the visual “noise” than others are.)

         

        • ProfessorCub

          Fair enough, thanks Doc

  • Annoyed

    Hate when the game is shown on csnchicago as it gets blocked out for where I live. Annoying as can be when more that half the games are shown on there it seems.

    Anyone know of a free stream website?

  • BD

    That lineup looks very good to me. Can we get the DH for every game?

  • Cubs Dude

    Hawk and Stone are so clueless and bitter about the Cubs. Anything Cubs related is so bad, no upside, and basically sucks a$$. I dislike those guys so much.. Nice farm system you guys have over there on the southside..

    • whiteflag

      Its driving me nuts too!

  • Cee-Dee-Vee

    LaHair Gold Glove RF 2012!!

  • hardtop

    Man we stink. our third string catcher is starting at first, our 29 year old call up in right, our 5th outfielder in left, our big deal re-tread in the dugout somewhere while a non-prospect mans third. for all the talk about dar-bar not being a major league level starter… he’s the second best overall player in the lineup. yeesh. isnt it amazing to think we have to play 500 ball for the rest of the season just to hit 70 wins? who took the over earlier this year? i have to dig up that post to see the silliness. easily the most hopeless ive felt about the cubs in a long long time.

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