salt river fieldThe Cubs head back to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, this time to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. Tony Campana is dealing with a big ‘ole cut on his hand, so I’m not sure if he’ll play today.

Jeff Samardzija gets the start for the Cubs, and gets into the lineup. If recent games have been any guide, he’ll have half of the Cubs’ hits today.

Although today’s started (Trevor Cahill) is a righty, the lineup makes me wonder what Dale Sveum intends to do when the opposing pitcher is a lefty: which is to say, I wonder if Darwin Barney, who’s been higher up in the lineup against lefties this Spring, will bat second. For his career, Barney’s .271/.315/.364 line against lefties is neither impressive nor a marked improvement on his overall line. Indeed, against lefties in 2012 (small sample size), he was actually worse against lefties than righties. All of these samples are small, but I’m not sure I see a good reason for batting Barney any higher than 7th or 8th, regardless of the pitcher on the mound. Thus, he probably won’t.

In today’s game, I’d reckon Barney batting second has more to do with getting him extra at bats (since Starlin Castro is out of the lineup anyway) than anything else.

Today’s game is available (audio) on MLB.com/Cubs.com.

The lineup:

1. David DeJesus, CF

2. Darwin Barney, 2B

3. Nate Schierholtz, RF

4. Alfonso Soriano, LF

5. Luis Valbuena, 3B

6. Welington Castillo, C

7. Javier Baez, SS

8. Steve Clevenger, 1B

9. Jeff Samardzija, P

  • Patrick G

    Is Valbuena hitting 5th just to get him more at-bats? I would think hell be hitting on the lower end of the lineup come opening day, would think putting Baez 5th would give him more of a RBI approach. Or am I just looking to far into this and in 5th to get more ABs

  • Noah

    Honestly, Barney COULD be the number 2 hitter against LHPs, depending on how Sveum looks at his line up construction. Considering who the Cubs have in their somewhat likely roster construction, I actually think that they probably should be looking at Castro and Sappelt in either way in the 1-2 spot. This isn’t because I love Sappelt, but he at least has the ability to draw a walk and despite having below average power for someone who is more suited for a corner OF role, it’s still better than Barney’s. But I have a feeling that Sveum might not be Maddon-esque enough to give that spot to a young platoon player. If it were up to me, though, with this roster my lineup v. LHPs would be:

    CF Sappelt
    SS Castro
    1B Rizzo
    LF Soriano
    RF Hairston
    C Castillo
    3B Valbuena
    2B Barney

    While against RHPs I’d probably go
    CF DeJesus
    SS Castro
    LF Soriano
    1B Rizzo
    RF Schierholtz
    C Castillo
    3B Stewart
    2B Barney

    And when I wrote that the first time I actually had Stewart in the six hole, but changed it because both Schierholtz and Stewart are so ineffective against LHPs.

    • mudge

      I like them lineups.

    • Mike W

      Why would you move Rizzo 4th and Soriano 3rd against RHPs?

      • BluBlud

        Why would you bat Sori 3rd and Rizzo 4th period. Rizzo in the three hole.

        • Noah

          Because the idea that you should put your best hitter in the 3 hole is antiquated. I think my best power hitter against RHPs is Rizzo, against LHPs is Soriano. Math says that the optimal lineup has your best power hitter bat 4th. So I put whomever I think is the best power hitter on any given day in the 4 spot.

          • DB Kyle

            Most of the lineup optimizations formulas I’ve seen say your best hitter should bat 2nd. I’ve never seen one say fourth. You’re losing 18 PAs a year from him that way over third.

            • Noah

              If you have a clear best all around hitter, yes, most optimizations say hit him second. But there are ifs around that. Presuming you have an optimal or close to optimal lineup set up, your 4th hitter will see the most runners on base, followed by your 5th hitter, then your 3rd hitter. So if you have a clear best power hitter, you want them batting 4th to optimize the number of times they can hit multi-run homers. It more than makes up for the 18 PAs.

              The idea behind putting your all around best hitter second is that it both provides an opportunity to get a ton of PAs, but without the downside of batting 1st that you’ll rarely be hitting with a runner on.

              So an optimal lineup looks to do two things: (1) increase the number of times your best hitters come to the plate; and (2) increase the number of times your best hitters come to the plate with runners on base.

              With that said, unless the Cubs did something crazy like bat Barney 1 while batting Soriano, Rizzo and Castro 6-8, the difference between optimal lineup and a rational lineup is probably no more than 1 win over the course of a full season.

          • BABIP (MichCubFan)

            Good stuff, Noah.

          • BluBlud

            Actually, if that’s what you trying to do, it would make more sense to hit Rizzo 3rd against RHP and Sori 3rd against LHP. However, since Rizzo is likely the better overall hitter then Sori, I would just bat him 3rd and leave Sori 4th either way. No need to constantly flop them around.

            • Noah

              But why is having your better overall hitter batting 3rd better than having your better overall hitter batting 4th, when all the lineup optimization studies say the opposite? And I think Joe Maddon has pretty well evidenced that having a set lineup is among the more overrated things in the game, along with the sac bunt.

              • BluBlud

                Because that’s where you want your best hitter, IMO. You best power hitter, or OPS guy, or combination of (they are basicly the same thing) needs to be in the three hole, which on this team is Rizzo. There is a reason that Sosa was moved into the three hole in 98 when he was on his way to OPS heaven and slugging 66 HRs. You best OBP guy should probably be 1st in the order, best average guy 2nd and your OPS guy third. If you choose, you put you next power guy behind your top OPS guy 4th for protection such as Soriano. You can start filling it in after by lefty and righty matchups with the next fastest guy or a guy with decent speed, if he’s not your leadoff guy and doesn’t hit for great average or power in the 8 hole such as Barney.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  But you score more runs (even if only slightly more) if that guy bats 2nd and the classic #2 guy bats #3. It usually won’t be many more – maybe 10 or so over a season – but that can be a victory.

                  • Blublud

                    So doc, I’m not disagreeing, just asking. Are you sayiny the order should be Dejesus, Rizzo, Castro, Soriano at the top, in that order.

                    • DocWimsey

                      Yeah, I would go with something like that, given the Cubs current roster. People would get hung up on the fact that DeJesus & Rizzo are back-to-back, and this will be bad in the 7th or 8th in a close game if those guys happen to come up and the opposing team happens to be a LOOGY. However, my thought is to play for the 3 PAs that you know will happen, not the 1 that might happen. And if a LOOGY does get both guys (or their pinch hitters) out late in a close game with men on base, then ask first: were the Cubs close because DeJesus and Rizzo were batting back-to-back?

                      (Another way to phrase is: don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good….)

                      That written, I would probably go with a different lineup with a lefty starter: but, again, that’s about playing for the 3 PAs that you can be pretty sure will happen.

              • jt

                these are not typo’s
                the 6th, 7th and 8th place slots for the 2008 Cubs had OPS totals of 0.846, 0.885 and 0.781 respectively.
                Soriano had 503 PA’s, 29 HR’s and 75 RBI as lead-off that year.
                A balanced lineup works a whole lot different than those they had to field last year.

  • Cerambam

    Schierholtz is quietly having a very nice spring. While Hairston is quietly having a meh spring.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      They are even more quietly having statistically indistinguishably springs.

  • cerambam

    Schierholtz- .333 avg .370 obp .583 slg .954ops 5 strike outs

    Harriston- .130 avg .167 obp .261 slg .428 ops 11 strikeouts

    I dont see it

    • Noah

      Because it’s meaningless. You’re not playing matchups, so Hairston, who in the regular season will get something like 80% of his starts against LHPs, isn’t getting the advantage of the platoon split.

      On top of that, SSS.

      • BABIP (MichCubFan)

        I like the platoon of Schierholtz/Hairston in right.

        Not only do they hit opposite sided pitching well, they also have been playing in pitcher friendly ballparks…especially Schierholtz when he was in San Fran.

        They also play good defense in the outfield.

    • BluBlud

      And once the season starts, Schierholz will likely go back to being his horrible of a baseball playing self, preseason doesn’t matter, remember.

  • MightyBear

    I won’t like it if the NL adopts the DH but there would be a silver lining. I won’t have to watch Cub pitchers walk the opposing team’s pitcher and the guy after him to hit a bomb. Pure frustration.

  • Jp3

    So much for Soler seeing a lot of pitches… 3 pitches 3 strikes.

  • Jp3

    Ok hitting coach should have something to say to Sori and Soler… 2 ABs 6 pitches 2 K’s

  • Spriggs

    Why is there always such a temptation to bat your worst hitter 2nd in MLB? Is it just an outdated carryover of putting a fairly fast guy who can bunt or hit and run there? Why would you ever put Barney in the 2 hole? It’s exactly why I hope Baez/Castro winds up at 2nd.

    • DarthHater

      I’ve always thought it generally makes most sense to put the best OPS guy third. Then, of the remaining players, the two highest OBAs go first and second. No way should a guy like Barney ever be in the top part of the lineup. Castro, yes, but I’d like to see him improve his OBA.

  • Die hard

    Imagine this lineup with Soriano gone for prospects and Castro and Rizzo in. Would be ok if Baez stayed at 3rd

    • http://www.wavesoftalent.webs.com tim815

      Baez won’t be added to the 40 Man until he has at least 300 AAA at bats, or he is eligible for Rule 5 protection.

      • Blublud

        Baez will be on the 40 possibly by the end of this year and no later then june 2014. I seriously doubt the kid ever sees 300 AAA at-bats, if any. Most prospect of that caliber don’t.

  • http://www.wavesoftalent.webs.com tim815

    Why add him before 12 months from now? There will always be 40 Man clutter, and there’s little reason to add more in July.

    • Blublud

      Because despite many people’s doubt, I still feel Baez can play himself into a sept callup. Even if not, I suspect he’ll be up to stay by the middle of next year. If Baez shows before the end of the year that he is ready for a “cup of tea” and this team declines to bring him up and slow his development to protect a player such as Dolis or Valbeuna or some one like that, it would be completely irresponsible. I don’t think our FO is that dumb. As for the AAA at-bats, I still have never those word come directly from Theo and comp that every prospect has to have a certain amount of at-bats at any certain level. Each individual develops differently, and each one will be handled as if they are different.

      • http://www.wavesoftalent.webs.com tim815

        Baez more than most will need AAA at bats. He needs to see slooooooooooooow curves before he will be as good as he should be. I really like Baez, Soler, and Almora, but they will all have to ‘check the boxes’ before advancing.

        • Danny Ballgame

          I agree about Baez. He needs more work at the plate than Soler does at this point. No need to rush either player now as we are not going to compete until 2014 at the very earliest.

          • Blublud

            I willing to bet that Baez makes his major league debut from AA. This doesn’t mean he will not see AAA at all. That will be up to how he plays when he arrives and his service clock. If he is sent back down once he arrives, then it may be to AAA. But the best competition is actually in AA as far as future major league star power. The Top pitchers are also probably in AA. The best players arrive in the Majors from AA. Why would the Cubs organization be any different. I see baez in Chicago in Sept as well as Soler, despite what Sveum says. If not, Soler will probably break camp with the Cubs in 14 and Baez will be up soon after by june 14. If he is promoted to AAA before then, so be it. But if he is smashing at that level, he’ll skip AAA and hello Wrigley.

            • http://www.wavesoftalent.webs.com tim815

              AAA pitchers tend to have more developed off-speed stuff. Baez and Soler crush fastballs. There should be no rush to advance Baez to the 40 Man roster.

            • Dale’s Ear

              Not sure if Baez makes the team this September but I definitely think he could be promoted next season without seeing much if any time in AAA a la guys like Castro and Manny Machado. Kid can ball it seems like he just needs to work on his overall mental approach kinda like Castro is still doing. As for Soler, I think that guy is a monster, he sees pitches so well I’m just hoping that his strikeout issues stem mostly from his lack of games played in recent years. After both of their respective springs I wouldn’t be completely shocked if either of them played there way onto the team this year, but I doubt the FO will rush them.

              • BluBlud

                What does rushi g a prospect mean. When I think of rushing a prospect, I think of promoting a prospect to the next level, even though he’s not ready, because you have him on a time table or you set a certain amount of at-bat for him at that level. If a prospect shows he is advanced for a level in a month and then promoted, shows he advanced for that level I a month and a half and is promoted again, shows in another month he is ready for the Show, I don’t consider that rushing a prospect. That prospect has shown he is ready.

                Trout is a perfect example. I don’t think anyone in baseball expected Trout to be in the majors, playing as well as he has played, this soon. If the Cubs had drafted Trout in that spot, and someone made the statement here on draft day he would be the 2012 ROY and 2nd in the MVP race, they would have been laughed off this board. The Angels didn’t rush him through the system. His talent dictated he be moved. If Baez, Soler and even Almora display enough talent to be fast tracked through the system, the FO would be doing the Cubs a disservice by slowing that progression because they set some arbitrary number of at-bats per level, time per level or age per level scale to follow.

      • Drew7

        What in the world is a “cup of tea”?

        • Blublud

          A short time being exposed to something

          • Drew7

            I think you mean, “cup-of-coffee”.

            • FFP

              The way Baez waggles his bat its probably caffeine either way. But yeah, I thought a guy named Blublud would be a coffee man, too.

            • BluBlud

              You to-may-to I say to-mah-to. I always cup of tea. I guess it just a matter of preference. I have heard both, but I hear cup of tea more.

              • MichiganGoat

                You sure you don’t watch Cricket and confuse it with baseball?

                • MichiganGoat

                  Which reminds me of a classic example of how our prior knowledge impacts our ability to comprehend writing:

                  “The Batsmen were merciless against the Bowlers. The Bowlers placed their men in slips and covers. But to no avail. The Batsmen hit one four after another along with an occasional six. Not once did their balls hit their stumps or get caught.”

                  • Jeff, not King or the latest one posting as Jeff

                    I use to watch Cricket for hours as a teenager in England, not much to watch on four channels. The Cricket Ball is twice as dense or heavy as a baseball.

                • DB Kyle

                  No one could do that. One is a game of fascinating strategic depth, and the other is baseball.

                  • MichiganGoat

                    The only question remaining… would Campana’s speed be useful in Cricket? 😉

                    • DB Kyle

                      A little, but not much. Not as valuable as it is in baseball.

                      His seeming inability to hit anything but ground balls would be nice, though.

        • FFP

          a social event where it is important to hold one’s pinky finger high?

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