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Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters are with the Cubs, but only Jackson is starting today. I wouldn’t read much into that, though, as the Iowa Cubs played pretty late last night. Could be any number of reasons Vitters isn’t starting today. He will be come tomorrow.

The lineup is pretty interesting with Jackson in it. He slots into the second spot, with Starlin Castro moving all the way down to fifth. I’m not sure I like that, long-term, but, for now, I suppose it makes some sense.

Game Info

Chicago Cubs (43-62) at Los Angeles Dodgers (58-50), 3:10pm CT on WGN.

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

Justin Germano (1-1, 3.38 ERA, 1.375 WHIP)

versus

Joe Blanton (8-9, 4.59 ERA, 1.193 WHIP)

Los Angeles Dodgers Lineup

1. Shane Victorino, LF

2. Marc Ellis, 2B

3. Matt Kemp, CF

4. Andre Ethier, RF

5. Hanley Ramirez, SS

6. James Loney, 1B

7. Luis Cruz, 3B

8. A.J. Ellis, C

9. Joe Blanton, P

Chicago Cubs Lineup

1. David DeJesus, RF

2. Brett Jackson(!), CF

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Starlin Castro, SS

6. Welington Castillo, C

7. Luis Valbuena, 3B

8. Darwin Barney, 2B

9. Justin Germano, P

  • TonyP

    woot

  • Spencer

    I’d actually like Jackson near the bottom of the order with Castro staying at the second spot. Only until (if) Jackson gets his K-rate down, then move him up to 1 or 2

    • Patrick G

      Agreed. Castro will be a career 2 hitter unless his power goes up, so why take him out? Think when Vitters starts he should be 5th and Jackson 6th

      • Flashfire

        Because this front office really, really values OBP and patience in the one and two hole. Jackson, even with the strikeouts, does okay in that category. It’s also why they went out and got a guy like Ronald Torreyes, who they had to fight for. I think part of this is to send a message to Castro about what he has to do if he wants that #2 slot back. Ever.

        • Jared

          i dont think starlin should have to fight to get his spot in the order back from someone who hasnt played a game in the league yet. starlin is 22 years old and has been the best player on this team since his arrival to the big leagues, hes having a down year by his standands and he is still leading the team in batting average with the exception of Rizzo. There are superstars in this league that have super down years all the time and dont lose their spot in the order because that solves nothing. starlin is younger than jackson and has already been a 2 time ALL STARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! jesus christ man, starlin castro has done everything you would want a young player to do progression wise. He has progressed in nearly every offensive catagory with the exception of OBP and BA which both correspond with each other to a point. if your BA is lower your OBP is gonna be lower. Not to mention his defense is progressing a ton…. if starlin keeps getting better each year i dont know what more we can ask for because he was an all star his first full season in the league and will be every year for years to come

  • J R

    Come on Sveum… Castro batting 5th now?? Dude makes some weird decisions.

  • Mitch

    With Dale’s history of playing Valbuena I am a little concerned Vitters isn’t in the lineup. I get the idea of a patient left handed bat hitting second except dejesus isn’t going to run. In the long run is it better to have castro back to third and move everyone down a slot? Still missing that true leadoff hitter to set the table and steal a base or two to make this offense click.

    • dudeski

      OBP is more important than steals

    • Flashfire

      If Vitters has restricted playing time down the stretch, that decision must have been made by Theo. Imagine Sveum trying to keep his job if Theo brought prospects up to evaluate them and Sveum kept them on the bench.

  • Dan

    …… I was hoping Vitters would take over for Valbuena at 3rd.

  • Leroy K.

    Starting lineup from opening day. Just sayin….

    1. David DeJesus, RF

    2. Darwin Barney, 2B

    3. Starlin Castro, SS

    4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

    5. Ian Stewart, 3B

    6. Jeff Baker, 1B

    7. Marlon Byrd, CF

    8. Geovany Soto, C

    9. Ryan Dempster, P

  • Austin

    Brett, going off your last tweet. Carrie Muskat has to be THE dumbest and the worst reporter. She has no clue what the hell she is talking about and her “sources” are pathetic.

    • Quintz

      Anytime she says her “sources”, I think “voices in her head that might drum up attention”.

  • J R

    Muskat is an idiot, so I don’t know what to read into the platooning Vitters thing. There is no way that the front office would give Dale the power to do something like that. If they are platooning him it’s gotta be coming from Thed. Which still makes 0 sense..

  • Cheryl

    Strange lineup and a rigt-handed pitcher. Looks like LaHair may be on borrowed time. But why bat Castro 5th, he’s no power hitter?

    • Carew

      he only has 3 or 4 less homers than LaHair…:/

  • Patrick W.

    How many times will the infielders shift defensively today? Might not want to have Vitters out there by himself 10 times in his ML Debut.

  • Oswego chris

    Love the moves..but Castro has to be in the top three….

    • Turn Two

      Agreed, Castro was red hot as the leadoff man. I realize he doesn’t take walks, but Dejesus doesn’t exactly have the highest obp.

      • Flashfire

        It’s almost 50 points higher than Castros, and he sees a lot more pitches — also important to the front office.

        • Turn Two

          Thats my whole point Flashfire- his batting average is down 20 points, subsequently so is his obp. Why no try him back in the 1 hole where he looked so comfortable.

          • Flashfire

            Because he doesn’t take pitches. Just looked it up on ESPN: DDJ is near the top in P/PA with 4.05, Castro near the bottom with 3.49. And even with 20 more points to BA, that puts his OBP 30 points behind DeJesus’s. Castro simply is not a 1/2 hitter for a Theo team at this point in his career.

          • Pat

            His batting average is down 20 points, his OPS is down 40 points. A .305 OBP is not high enough for a top of the order hitter.

          • Flashfire

            Incidentally, I said yesterday that I saw signs that the FO was losing patience with Castro’s batting approach and was considering trading him for pitching. This lineup move is another example of frustration with his approach.

            • nkniacc13

              I think this is because you need someone behind Sori and if you put Jackson they won’t pitch anywhere near Sori

              • Flashfire

                Jackson would have been taking LaHair’s slot. There’s no way he hits worse.

            • http://bleachernation loyal100more

              well if thats not a gross assumption. HES 22! hes not going anywhere and well this argument just plain has no merit. its the ass end of a loosing season. for all you fans dont look to deep into this stuff. our brilliant FO is just getting a head start on the experimental work that needs to be done to see where we stand as a team. lots of tweeks in the line up roster and rotation make great sense. not that a player is being disaplined for his approch at the plate. dont over engineer this thing into seeing something thats just not there.

              • Flashfire

                It’s one piece of a narrative. In that sense, one piece can easily be overlooked. When put into a larger puzzle, it becomes harder.

            • Jared

              man you are really grasping at stings trying to bash starlin….u should be bashing these old ass guys that arent giving us any production instead of bashing a 22 year old kid who has been the best player on the team since he stepped onto the field 2 years ago. he is still a work in progress just like every other 22 year old, but they are usually a work in progress i double a ball. starlin is having a bad year and hes still an all star, our 22 year old all star should be the least of your worries

              • Jared

                straws* not strings lol

              • Flashfire

                Seriously? I’m bashing him now? He is a great player. I’ve said that. I said it last night. He’s probably the best raw talent on the Cubs. Maybe in the entire Cubs system. He is *not* a Theo/Jed player. it’s an interesting issue for them. Do they build a team around what they have, even if it isn’t what they want, or do they build what they want. I would say you are going out of your way to pretend that Starlin Castro is in any way, shape, or form the patient hitter that Theo goes out of his way to recruit.

                • Jared

                  it sure sounds like all you have been doing is bashing him the last couple days….and no im not pretending hes a patient hitter because hes not. and i really dont care what theo wants starlin to be. he is what he is…..BUT you CANT tell me that you dont believe he will gain patients throughout his career. Theo isnt an idiot. he realizes starlin is 22 and hes a great hitter! if he thought starlin was a lost cause when it comes to patients then sure he would trade him…..but who in the hell is ever a lost cause when they are 22!!!!!!!!!!!!! lol. common!

                  • Flashfire

                    Facts:

                    -The Cubs have no good arms in the upper levels of the minors.
                    -They would rather compete sooner (2014) rather than later. (2017/2018)
                    -They have to have good pitching to do that.
                    -The pitchers hitting the FA market are not that good or have serious issues (Greinke) and are going to be insanely expensive.
                    -Theo and Jed have a system and believe 100% in that system. No one person is more important than the system. (Ask Nomar Garciaparra about that.)
                    -To compete, the Cubs have to get some good young pitchers. Matt Garza should be able to bring some. But the Cubs need more. They need to really give something to get that.
                    -Castro is not — despite what you might think I’m saying — a bad player. He is one of the best and most exciting young players in baseball.
                    -Castro has issues that prevent him from fitting into the system.
                    -Since Castro is an exceptional young player that has less value to Theo and Jed than he does to other GMs, it’s conceivable that they could trade him for some truly outstanding young pitchers and maybe a good position prospect.

                    All theoretical. All works in tandem with the tea leaves I described yesterday. But this is not about how good or bad Starlin Castro is — it’s about Theo’s long term plan for the Cubs and where Starlin fits into it.

                    • calicubsfan007

                      @Flashfire: Good points, but you forgot about Ardoys Vizcaino.

                    • Jared

                      i totally understand the point u are making, you are saying that it may take starlin some time to develop into the type of player that jed and theo want if he ever does and they would rather win sooner than later, but my point is that starlin is already soooooo good, and he will keep getting better and like jed and theo have said all along that they cant sacrafice the future for the present, and starlin is our future, he is already an all star, and has the potential to be a superstar! (3000 hits?). if you trade him you trade for someone who probably is older and has less potential than starlin. it just doesnt make sense to me…

                    • Flashfire

                      I didn’t forget — but he’s a huge question mark and, at least according to the majority of scouts, headed for the bullpen. If he can recover and start injury free, that obviously changes things.

                    • Flashfire

                      @Jared that isn’t what I was saying. I said you’re trading him for good, young pitching prospects — like Trever Bauer (21) and Tyler Skaggs (21) + more good stuff.

                    • nkniacc13

                      well Vizcano is going to start next year in the minors in the bullpen so discount hm filling a rotation spot until after next years trade deadline. I expect if Garza is traded that they get atleast 1 mayb 2 pitchers that can be thrown into the rotation next year atleast 1to start and the other to come up later in the year

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      I can’t imagine a team giving up multiple top tier pitching prospects for anyone. Arizona is not going to deal Bauer. Tampa is not going to deal Moore. Baltimore is not going to deal Bundy. Pittsburgh is not going to deal Cole. Seattle might deal one of theirs, but I doubt it.

                      The Cubs can shop Castro all they want, but they are not going to get multiple elite pitching prospects from anyone. Teams who have those guys almost never trade them.

                      And at that point, do the Cubs still trade Castro? Would they really do a deal for two or three pitchers who aren’t potential aces? I’m not so sure.

                    • Jared

                      ok well those guys arent proven players. they have great potential but i still dont think its near what starlins is. and starlin is already a proven all star at the least!

                    • Flashfire

                      @Luke No, absolutely not. Unless they think his value is going to decrease — then grab what you can. In your scenario you hold him until you have so many infielders that, literally, one of them has to be traded, see which one makes the most sense to move — and move him.

                • http://bleachernation loyal100more

                  at 22 castro could develop into the NL’s best player. hes improved his fielding and is hitting with better power this year. development is the key here… castro just continues to prove that he can improve in any part of his game in a short time. at 22 ALL hitters are agressive, and wanting to drive the ball. what we have in castro is a player that will be VERY impressive at short when the cubs are competitive…an MVP type player…that friends is my take on the kid.

                  • Jared

                    agree 100%

            • http://bleachernation loyal100more

              castro is one of just a couple of players on this team that the front office has to be thrilled with moving forward.

    • http://bleachernation loyal100more

      i could definatly get behind jackson at the 5 or under spot. castro is really the only piece we have that should only move based on his performance and not additions.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        I see Jackson as a seven hitter more than a two. I think Castro will be back up in the top three before too much longer.

        • SplitFinger

          Has anybody within the organization addressed Castro’s changes in stance and position of bat during his stance? It seemes he has changed things dramatically since last last year. Brett, like I, and so many fans have noticed it. I think this is why he is struggling.

  • Cyranojoe

    Awesome! I’ll be at the game today. Will try to live-tweet, using #LiveFromChavez tag. I’m @cyranojoe.

  • Cyranojoe

    BTW, from seeing yesterday’s game live, Valbuena turned in a really excellent defensive performance, and worked two good walks of the four that the team took. Too bad he doesn’t put the bat on the ball a bit more often.

    • Carew

      I think he’s gonna wind up bein a very good utility guy

  • Dylan

    Just posted this on twitter:

    My ideal #Cubs lineup based on the current roster: DeJesus 9, Castro 6, Rizzo 3, Soriano 7, Jackson 8, Vitters 5, Clevenger 2, Barney 4.

    Thoughts?

    • MichiganGoat

      unless Sori gets moved I think that is the ideal standard lineup

      • Dylan

        Yup. Once Soriano get moved, the lineup will change drastically, that’s for sure.

        Maybe something like this:

        RF DeJesus
        CF Jackson
        SS Castro
        1B Rizzo
        3B Vitters
        LF LaHair
        C Castillo/Clevenger
        2B Barney

        I don’t know. I’m just speculating here.

        • Smitty

          Pretty Sure Dale has said that Rizzo will be the #3 hitter moving forward.

  • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    Is Blanton got bad numbers against lefties? I ask that because we got Dejesus, Jackson, and Rizzo hitting back, to back, to back. I would think you would want to spread those lefties out throughout the lineup. More balance that way.

    • calicubsfan007

      @someday…2015: From what I read, he struggles more against righties.
      “In looking particularly at Blanton’s pitch frequency by zone to right-handed batters, over 18% of his hard pitches have been in the dead middle of the zone. Blanton has not thrown hard pitches to any other part of the zone more than 13% of the time, so it is clear that he has had struggles keeping balls out of the center of the zone to right-handers. That issue correlates to his home run allowed total, as 14 of the 22 home runs he has allowed all year have been to right-handed hitters despite facing fewer right-handed batters than left-handers. According to Lefkowitz’s stats, right-handed hitters have a .524 ISO against pitches in the heart of the zone while left-handers have a still huge but less incredible .421 ISO against similar offerings.”
      http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/joe-blanton-is-having-one-of-the-weirdest-seasons-ever/

      • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

        Thx Cali. Good numbers their. Hopefully Blanton hangs a few for Rizzo and Jackson today. Oh and hopefully Muskat doesnt report Clayton Kershaw is up to pinch hit for the Chicago Cubs today.

  • calicubsfan007

    @Luke: Based on your knowledge of each, do you expect Jackson and Vitters to last long on the MLB team, or do you think that either or both will be demoted this season or next?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      Neither will be demoted this season. They are up to finish the year, and I expect both will play regularly through the end of the year.

      And then we’ll see. If Jackson can make enough contact, the Cubs are likely to keep him in their starting outfield for 2013. Vitters needs to show he can play good enough defense at third base to keep that job. If he can do that, he has a chance to be the Opening Day third baseman. That does not mean they’ll keep those jobs all season.

      • http://bleachernation loyal100more

        not to mention these playersw with the tools we know they DO have, could make a nice showing to another team that might want to give up some young pitching in the offseason. so id say this is just as much about trying to give these youngsters more trade value as it is about giving them a look…exciting stuff any way you look at it!

  • http://bleachernation.com lou brock lives

    Cubs should target RHP reliever Tyler Clark at Class A Lakeland as part of deal with Tigers for Baker. He is not a top 20 prospect in Tiger system & was selected in the 24th round of the 2010 draft out of Missouri. Current line at Lakeland 6 – 1 with .063 ERA in 42 innings – 19 Hits – 17 BB – 59 K’s & 9 saves. Looks like a decent set up or closer type for the future.

    • calicubsfan007

      @lou brock lives: I would rather get a starting pitcher from the Tigers. A low A guy who is good, but obviously not in the Tigers top 20. Maybe someone like Josue Carreno?

      • calicubsfan007

        Edit: Sorry, a “young Josue Carreno”

  • http://bleachernation.com RicoSanto

    Catsro will hit at least 20 Hrs by next year .He should hit maybe 15 this year.Last homestand he hit the top of the wall 3 times.He is working hard on and off the field.Sveum is helping deveop him. I think they will lock him with a long term contract before his arbitraion years.

  • Jeff

    Vitters needs to be in the starting line-up! There’s nothing more that we need to see with Valbuena, he’s a decent defender but suspect with the bat. He’s a quality back-up but not a starter by any stretch of the imagination. Vitters should start the rest of the way out.

    • Jared

      totally agree, we cant do that left handed right handed pitcher bullshit with him, he needs to be the everyday starter, keep his confidence high!!!

  • Jeff

    Here he is ladies and gents, go Jackson!

  • Cheryl

    Jared, It’s interesting that you say he needs to play every day to build his confidence. I agree. But Sveum may not play him every day. He’s done that before with other players and I’ve said ir before, playing every day builds confidence, Platooning isn’t always the answer.

    • Jared

      agreed!

    • Drew7

      There’s a difference between those two cases, Cheryl: LaHair is a known commodity (the type of players you platoon), and Vitters is not (the type of player you don’t platoon). You have to see what Vitters can do everyday.

  • Jeff

    Castro, Rizzo, Vitters, Jackson. We have alot to be excited about, just let the youth play.

  • Joepoe321

    Wow that was great seeing Brett Jackson vitters and Castro talking with rizzo batting!

  • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

    Not a big deal but how do you miss that call!?! Like Bob said, 4 umps their and no one could make the right call. At least the FC resulted in a run.

    • Jared

      ya no kidding….and i havent seen anybody ripping rizzo for forgetting the outs, thats weird….if that was castro their would already be 20 comments talking about it

      • Flashfire

        One mistake.

        If it becomes a habit, he will be ripped.

        • Jared

          castro only made one mistake when it came to forgetting the outs? the other one was when he had his back to the pitch….all the rest were just fielding errors right?

      • Jimmy james

        Didn’t see the play, but I remember aj forgetting the number of outs and Kaplan asking what the difference was……mainly that aj didn’t have a “potential” out to make and it basically was just funny

  • Kevin

    Time for more expanded instant replay. Bud Selig and Joe Torre Must feel pressure from the Umpire’s Union otherwise it would happen.

  • Ben

    They should increase the umpires compensation and be able to hold them accountable for making huge mistakes……this is ridiculous….Horrible call after horrible call and still no replay :(
    They should be able to be fired for screwing up just like any of us

  • Leroy K.

    Germano looking good….

  • JP cubed

    Germano no hitter through 1. Just saying

    • Dan

      Germano no hitter through 2. Just saying.

      • Jackalope

        Germano no hitter through 2 1/2. Just saying.

  • Leroy K.

    Blanton looks like the Dodgers pitcher from Rookie of the Year

  • Leroy K.

    Jackson 0-1 with a walk through 3…

    • Jackalope

      No strikeouts yet!

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