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So. Here we are. The first game of a 90-game winning streak, and the run of 15 consecutive World Series titles.

I’m actually kidding about the kidding. This actually is a great night, and I’m super bummed that I can’t be there. Anthony Rizzo makes his debut for the Cubs after shredding AAA pitching for another half season. He may not do it all tonight, but it should be fun to watch his progress. And it starts tonight.

Rizzo bats third, about which I’m mostly ambivalent. It feels like a “high pressure” spot, but it also means that he’s got a couple decent bats behind him (Soriano and LaHair). Hopefully he gets a hit early, and that takes the pressure off.

Also of note tonight, Randy Wells gets another chance to show he can still be a big league starter. I know it sounds stupid, but it isn’t meaningless tonight.

Game Info

New York Mets (39-35) at Chicago Cubs (25-48), 7:05pm 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

Dillon Gee (5-5, 4.27 ERA, 1.235 WHIP)

versus

Randy Wells (1-2, 4.91 ERA, 1.909 WHIP (yikes))

New York Mets Lineup

1. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, CF

2. Ruben Tejada, SS

3. David Wright, 3B

4. Lucas Duda, RF

5. Ike Davis, 1B

6. Scott Hairston, LF

7. Daniel Murphy, 2B

8. Josh Thole, C

9. Dillon Gee, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, CF

2. Starlin Castro, SS

3. RIZZOMG!!!!!!!!!! (1B)

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Bryan LaHair, RF

6. Luis Valbuena, 3B

7. Darwin Barney, 2B

8. Steve Clevenger, C

9. Randy Wells, P

  • Luke D

    Ermahgerd! RIZZER!

    • Featherstone

      When does the narwhal bacon.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        I’m more like a quiet observer.

        (At midnight.)

      • Go Cubs

        Midnight

        • Luke D

          Gersberms!

  • gratefulled

    omgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgomgom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • SirCub

    That lineup is beautiful. By far the best offense the Cubs have put out there this year. Not like that says very much…

    • art

      Sir, i agree. as soon as i seen it i liked it.

    • rcleven

      Only bummer is Wells.
      Early pen tonight. Ugh

  • Tom

    Len and Bob just tweeted this link.. I added the commentary…

    https://img.skitch.com/20120627-rr19fmifbwkb8ucmi2mmw1kxmt.jpg

    Good luck Anthony!

    • Proofrock

      Uh, I didn’t know that Sveum had so much hair.

      (Unless he is the one next to Castro)

      • Tom

        You could be right- I was in a rush to get it up :) I’m also unsure if the man I labled Jed is actually Tom Ricketts. :)

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          That one is, indeed, Tom Ricketts.

          But I dig the picture just the same.

      • Vladimir

        lol that pic, and yeah he is behind castro. Kind of poetic actually. All the new guys in charge watching one of their biggest building blocks. Who also happens to be watched by fellow building block starlin castro. :)

    • hansman1982

      post reduced to nothing after I realized that I have no clue what I am looking at

    • rcleven

      Still looks like Sveum is out of the loop from the front office.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Or e is very much in the loop, and he is just taking their orders.

        • rcleven

          Maybe he has one of those tiny flesh colored ear pieces.

    • LaHair4MVP

      Sveum isn’t the one next to McLeod?

      • rcleven

        fore front rh leaning aginst the fungo.

  • die hard

    STUPID to bat him 3rd…..STUPID STUPID AND STUPID….setting the stage for a quick trip back to the minors with tail tween his legs…makes me want to puke..another example of piss poor upper, middle and lower management

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      So batting him third a bad idea, management bad, time to call Dick Tidrow to fix this fiasco.

    • TWC

      Enlighten us, gramps.  Do tell.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        We’ve told you, the answer to all is Dick Tidrow (of course all of the problems are also caused by him as well)

    • beerhelps

      tell us how you really feel man

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m not sure I’ve ever seen you get this riled up.

    • Carew

      so I take it you dont like the lineup

    • Four and Twenty

      The kid can handle the pressure. He beat cancer, after all. If he can do that, he can bat third.

    • Ogyu

      Right. Because whether a particular player bats third or sixth in the lineup in a particular game is really a profoundly insightful basis for evaluating the quality of upper, middle and lower management.

  • die hard

    Bat him 6th or 7th for a month….assuming hitting his weight move him up a notch

    • Carew

      I actually agree with 6th, just not 7th…too bad this team sucks at hitting otherwise he probably would be down in the order

    • TWC

      Ah, batting average… the most important stat in the world.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Well that depends on how you calculate batting average :)

        • Dave H

          Just ask Ryne Sandberg. Main note – I always say if you’re gonna be a bear… Be a Grizzly. This kid will need to produce some time.

    • Drew7

      It doesnt matter. 3rd, 6th, PH, hitting in high heels, wherever- pitchers will pitch to him the same way.

    • rcleven

      Third seventh It reall does not matter. Whats important is who is hitting in front and behind him. Once the game starts he will hit third once maybe twice.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Even who is hitting before or after him won’t matter: under any situation except an intentional walk, the pitcher is going to throw pitches that he thinks will get Rizzo out.

        • rcleven

          He will see the same pitches yes but he will also see more pitches for strikes.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            Unless a pitcher’s control is badly affected by pitching from the stretch, who is batting ahead or behind a guy does not affect how many strikes a batter sees.  The pitcher will still throw pitches that they think will get the batter out: and he wants to get the batter out all the time.

          • Drew7

            This falls under the same dated logic that says the leadoff guy will see more fastballs- That was true years ago, but pitchers have figured out when you have mountains of data indicating a batter’s weaknesses, pitching to those weaknesses is a lot more effective.

            • Toby

              I always believed that having a true lead-off hitter was overrated. The only time he truly leads off is in the first inning. After that, how many times will he really lead off in a game.

              • Lou Cub

                Toby, it is overrated in the extent that he leads off maybe once per game or twice tops…However, if he’s a true table setter he’ll ignite the offense anytime he bats, a’la Brett Butler, Lenny Dykstra, Rickey etc

              • Drew7

                That depends on what you mean by “true leadoff hitter”:

                If you construct a lineup with your best OBP guys (unless one is your highest slugging hitter as well) then its not overrated; these guys are getting the most PA’s and are getting on-base for the middle of your order (namely your best hitter with power-#4).

                If you are part of the group that think Castro or Campana should leadoff? Yes, among other things, that would make a leadoff hitter “overrated”.

            • Scotti

              If the batter behind Rizzo is OPSing 200-300 points lower then Rizzo will be pitched around in “game situations.” If said batter has a much closer OPS then Rizzo will get pitched to in game situations. (FWIW, the study most commonly referenced to refute “protection” was very, very flawed. Some individuals considered as protecting others were considered to do so based on reputation among other flaws).

  • Mrp

    Hell, maybe we should just swap Rizzo out for Baker? That would really take the pressure off of him wouldn’t it?

  • jim

    Rizzo is cubs all star!! Dignity for cub fans?

  • Jeremy

    I’m really surprised he is batting 3rd. It seems like 4th would be his natural spot in the order but hey I won’t complain, we finally get to see him with the big boys!

    • rcleven

      If Rizzo establishes him self it wont be long before it turns LaHair Rizzo Sorri.
      Or Sorri between the leftys

      • Ogyu

        “Sorri between the leftys” is what we’re seeing tonight.

  • Adam

    WTF!! Why does it have to be on WCIU. 720 WGN here I come.

  • mudge

    3rd feels right to me. Put him there & leave him there.

  • Jax

    I actually think batting him 3rd is a good idea. you have dejesus and castro before him and if either get on base you basically have to pitch to Rizzo because you are not going to risk walking Rizzo to pitch to Lahair or Soriano who can put alot of runs on the board with one swing (so can Rizzo). Its a great way to put some confidence in Rizzo and also show your confidence in Rizzo as an orginization. Batting him 6th, 7th or 8th in the order he is not going to see as many good pitches and he may start pressing and swinging at pitches out of the zone or pitches he won’t be able to drive as well. Plus batting him 3rd makes your 1-5 alot better. Actually looks like a solid batting order.

    • TWC

      All of this, yes.

    • Luke D

      You may be overestimating the competence of Soriano. He’s got too many holes in his swing to be a feared cleanup hitter. Ditto LaHair.

      The only reason Rizzo is hitting third (and understandably so) is that there is no right-handed threat in our lineup not named Starlin Castro. Perhaps one day we will see a lineup of DeJesus, Barney, Castro, Rizzo, Soriano, LaHair, Valbuena and Clevenger…but probably not.

      • nkniacc13

        if you trade Soto you might

  • Cerambam

    Best part of the lineup is rizzomg has to bat in the first inning

  • willis

    Sandwich him between Castro and Soriano and he will get good pitches to mash. Now it’s up to him to mash them.

  • art

    every time he hits a homer Pat/Len should say “Rizzo you are ridiculous”, sorry Jon.

  • DocPeterWimsey

    Rizzo is going to be feeling pressure no matter where he bats.  However, 3rd is as good a spot as any: that should be the weakest of your top 4 hitters, anyway.  Batting 1st or batting 7th, the opposing pitchers are going to be throwing the pitches that they think will get him out.  (They might pitch him differently at #8 with a pitcher coming up, but that is another issue.)

    • SM

      I’m curious how you would figure the #3 spot should be your weakest hitter of the top 4? I think conventional wisdom would say exactly the opposite.

      • Drew7

        Conventional wisdom has this one wrong.

        Your #1 & 2 hitters have the most PA’s over the course of a season. With OBP being a huge indicator of scoring and ultimately winning, these 2 need to be high OBP guys (another spot where conventional wisdom is wrong, probably even more so).

        Your #4 guy sees the most PA’s with men on base, so this should be your top overall hitter with power, maximizing PA’s for the guy most likely to drive the guys at the top in.

        The number 3 hitter sees the 3rs most PA’s and has less PA’s with men on, so it makes sense that he would be the worst hitter out of the 4.

      • chirogerg

        It’s based on the chances that the No. 3 hitter gets with RISP, which I think (correct me if I’m wrong) is significantly lower than the number of chances the No. 2 hitter gets

        Edit: Sorry Drew, I didn’t see your post when I clicked reply

        • Drew7

          Well, #3 is inferior to #2 because of PA’s and the imortance of OBP. The number of PA’s with men on base is the highest at #4, which is why that spot is also superior to #3.

          Its still an important spot: most would say the hierarchy would be 2,4,1,3/5,6,7,8 (I have also seen 1&4 switched).

    • Carew

      Ive always been taught that #1 is your get-on, 2nd your get-em over, 3rd is your best overall and 4-6 are rbi guys…which would make the 2nd hitter theoretically the worst one…

      • Drew7

        Right. That is how old-school lineups have been constructed for years, but its basing an offensive strategy around giving up outs (#2 as a “getem over guy), and thats never a good idea.

        *new school* logic asks why one would have a hitter give up outs in that spot when you could put your best overall hitter there and maximize the PA’s.

        • sm

          So is that why Pujols, Cabrera, Braun, Wright, Cano, Fielder, Konerko and every other all star hitter bats third in the lineup, because they aren’t the best hitter on the squad???

          • Carew

            Perfect examples sir.

          • Drew7

            One ? gets your point across effectively.

            My posts explained why constructing a batting order that way is the most efficient.

            If you disagree, tell me how what you suggested makes sense. Just because something is conventional wisdom doesnt make it the best way.

          • Drew7

            Also funny how Cabrera and Fielder can both bat 3rd since, unless there’s another Cabrera that is the best hitter on his team, they both play for the Tigers…

            • SM

              I was going with Melky Cabrera but if I must answer, both have batted #3 this year for Det depending on the pitcher. I’m guessing what I’m saying make sense, since the guys who get paid millions of dollars per year to fill out a lineup card continue to do it that way, vs your system. I don’t want to discount the possibility that your new system isn’t indeed cutting edge, but until more than 1% of the managers adopt it, my money is on the guys who have spent years around major league baseball.

              • SM

                I did forget to include David DeJesus as well!

              • Drew7

                Thats great, but WHY is that the way to do it? If you dont know, thats fine, and you certainly arent alone, but you just said the same thing as you did in your 1st post: Because managers (mostly ex-players taught outdated baseball strategy) in MLB do it like that.

                • SM

                  There’s an old saying in the legal/debate world (Brett correct me if I’m wrong) that states “the burden of proof rests with the affirmative”. Simply saying, since I and the others agree with the status quo, the multi millionaire managers and every manager since anyone can remember, it’s up to you to convince us WHY the vastly overwhelming majority of managers and baseball experts SHOULDN’T bat their best hitter #3.

                  • Drew7

                    I already did by explaining it thouroughly in several posts. Im not debating this with MLB managers- I dont have their ear. I have explained, in-depth, the reasons supporting my view.

                    My debate is with you, and you insist on avoiding answering my question. Like I said, if you really dont know why, its cool…but repeatedly stating the same thing over and over isnt bolstering your case, especially since I also addressed that one as well (a couple different times).

                    • hansman1982

                      Actually you are all wrong. You bat your best hitter 4th (furthest away from the pitcher while still getting a lot of ab) you next two best hitters 1,2 the next 2 bat 3 and 5 and do whatever the hell you want with 6-9.

                      Make fun of Larussa all you want for batting the pitcher 8th but it got him the best possible lineup and gave Pujols an extra ab every few games.

                    • Jimmy james

                      Actually you hit your best hitter ninth, you know element of surprise and all

                    • Drew7

                      Hansman: Thats basically what im saying, with the exception being absolutely batting your best hitter 4th: if your best hitter is Castro, but next best is Rizzo, Id bat Rizzo 4th.

                    • SM

                      I respectfully disagree. The only thing you debated against what I said was which Cabrera I was speaking of when I gave about 7 other examples of a particular teams best hitter hitting third. Then of course, again, there is my defense that EVERY TEAM IN BASEBALL HITS THEIR BEST GUY THIRD. Pretty sure that’s all the argument I need to give.

                    • Cubbie Blues

                      Just had a thought. What is all the hype Rizzo is getting going to do to Castro? He has been top dog since he came up. Is this going to make him press?

                    • Leroy K.

                      I really hope not. He hasn’t been playing like a top dog and wouldn’t be a top dog on most other teams. Hopefully he just continues to develop, focus, and play well.

                    • Drew7

                      Ok, you obviously have no idea.

                      Heres the summary –
                      I stated what I (as well as numerous others, notably Tom Tango (like I said, he may have 1 and 4 flipped in relation to mine, but the 3 hitter is the same)) believed was the optimum batting order, as well as stated why they were ordered that way.

                      You broufht up all managers hitting their best hitter #3, which is a valid point- a point responded to by Doc and myself, both saying essentially the same thing: they do it because thats how it always been done. Which, as history has proven to us for thousands of years, certainly doesnt make it the best way.

                      Since then, you have only responded by repeating your 1st and only point (along with calling me out for forgetting about Melky’s 75 game run as his teams best hitter…but you got me nonetheless) despite being asked several times to provide some sort of logical proof.

                      I certainly didnt come up with this concept, and certainly not alone in this school of thought even on this site. Im signing off for the night, but if youd like to discuss this further (preferably with at least 1 additional reason for your thinking) I’ll be back on sometime tomorrow. Enjoy your evening, Sir (or Ma’am, and I guess enjoy your morn….whatever).

          • DocPeterWimsey

            The answer is quite simple: that’s the way it always has been done.  Baseball managers are a lot like the Dothraki in Game of Thrones: say something blithering and they will all chant in unison: “It is Known.”  The best hitter is the #3 hitter because….. (drum roll)…. that is where Babe Ruth batted.  That’s it.

            Now, you can present them with numbers showing how you can increase run production by maybe 8-10 runs a year (i.e., about one run every 20 games, but approximately 1 victory per season) by flip-flopping the traditional #2/#3 hitters, especially for NL lineups.  (The low OBA of the #9 slot on NL teams has a lot to do with why you want the #2 hitter to be better than the #3 hitter: an NL #2 hitter bats more with 2 outs and men on base than does the #3 hitter, but also more than an AL #2 hitter.)

            However, what might happen is that the manager will flip-flop for a week.  He won’t notice the difference and decide that it doesn’t work.  Now, remember, we expected a run every 20 games: i.e., one more run every three weeks.  But guys who manage baseball teams are under pressure for immediate results and also just not really the sort to think about “long term investment” tactics.

            • Drew7

              Agreed, except I think youre giving traditionalists too much credit: In their lineups, a #2 hitter probably should be in a spot much less important than #3, since this view sees a #2 as a “guy who makes a lot of contact and can get the guy over”, not necessarily a good hitter.

      • Mike S

        1 is your fastest OBP guy
        2 is your guy that strikes out the least (best BB:K ratio)
        3 is your best hitter (avg/power/rbi)
        4 is your power guy (ok to strike out)
        5 is just like your 3 hitter but not as good
        6 is another OBP guy (tends to lead off innings)
        7 is your worse hitter (that starts)
        8 is your catcher (typically)
        9 is your pitcher

        • Drew7

          Any reason why,
          1) your leadoff guy needs to be fast?
          2) #2’s K:BB is relevant?
          3) #3 should be your best overall hitter?
          4) your catcher should have a specified spot in the order?

          Really just curious, since it really clashes with my view.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

            I could see an argument for batting the catcher 8th that involves resting the catcher’s legs as much as possible.  No one works as hard during a game as the catcher (excpet maybe the pitcher), so giving him as much time on the bench and off the bases sort of makes sense.  I’m not sure that’s a terribly good argument, but I can see the logic.

            I can also see Cub fans thinking that catchers bat eighth because the Cubs have had some really bad hitting catchers over the past few years (Koyie Hill).

  • JulioZuleta

    If anyone’s curious I have DirecTV and thought I didnt have WCIU in HD. Apparently its channel 639 if that helps anyone.

    • Mitch

      It’s actually SNY the mets feed but you can watch the game at least.

  • KidCubbie

    Can Rizzo get ROY status this year? I know he came up for coffee last year.

  • Ty

    LaHair’s first night playing RF in Wrigley, right? Should be a very interesting night, but I’m more concerned with LaHair and Soriano improving trade value than Rizzo lighting it up.

  • Matt3

    could have been a bad inning

  • AK

    OMGOMG

    I’ll try not to jizz(o)

  • http://bleachernation.com #1lahairfan

    rizzo’s first base hit

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    From now on, every ball Rizzo puts into play will be changed by the scorekeeper into a hit.

    • AK

      Haha, I am watching the Mets broadcast and they were a bit skeptical.

  • http://bleachernation.com #1lahairfan

    And I made the comment

  • chirogerg

    RIZZZOOOOOO! He smoked that

  • http://bleachernation.com #1lahairfan

    We already stranded 2 runners

  • http://bleachernation.com #1lahairfan

    first line out catch by rizzo

  • Myles

    Did you know who sucks?

    If you guessed “Randy Wells,” you are right!

    • Lou Cub

      Wells is caca!!!! I wonder if they ever got any substantitive offers for him back near the end of Spring Training when supposedly some 25 scouts were watching him?

  • Cub Gone Wild

    Val Buena Visto to the rescue…. See ya Ian Stewart…

    • Drew7

      2nd error…welcome back Stewart :)

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Wells just threw his last pitch as a starter for the Cubs. Will only be used in relief – possibly sent down or released.

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