luis valbuena cubsGet ready for a lot of platoons and match-up based lineups this year. I think.

Let’s start the conversation on the roster and possible lineups over at third base, which dictated a large portion of this discussion yesterday when Mike Olt made the team.

By all accounts, it sounds like the tentative plan for third base as the season begins will be a sorta-kinda platoon between Olt and Luis Valbuena, which sounds right to. You don’t want to do a strict platoon, because Olt’s bat could be too good to sit against all righties, but you do want to give Olt a little extra rest while his shoulder continues to heal, and you also do want to get Valbuena in there occasionally (let’s not forget that this was a guy who was worth 2.0 WAR in just 108 games last year).

I’d imagine that Valbuena will also rotate in at second base from time to time. Heck, if Valbuena is in there two out of three games against righties at either third or second, he’d be playing in just about half the games, and Olt and Darwin Barney would be sitting only occasionally. Of course, working Emilio Bonifacio into the mix is where it could get tricky, especially now that Ryan Kalish also has made the roster (making outfield at bats just a touch more stretched).

Ultimately, the ideal approach is going to involve a hell of a lot of rotating and match-ups. The Cubs have an ideal roster for that approach, and the players will just have to get used to a little bit of up and down. Consider this: if he wanted, Rick Renteria¬†has the players¬†to go with seven lefties in the lineup against a righty pitcher, and to go with seven righties in the lineup against lefties. No, the lineup might not feature many studs, but if you’re a pitcher with pronounced splits? Watch out.

With all of that in mind, let’s play the lineup game. How about these three formulations? (which are not projections – just my own take on lineup construction – and with the understanding that several of these guys will move around defensively)

Against a typical righty:

  1. Bonifacio, 2B
  2. Rizzo, 1B
  3. Castro, SS
  4. Schierholtz, RF
  5. Olt, 3B
  6. Sweeney, LF
  7. Lake, CF
  8. Castillo, C
  9. Pitcher

Against a particularly tough righty:

  1. Bonifacio, 2B
  2. Kalish, LF
  3. Rizzo, 1B
  4. Schierholtz, RF
  5. Valbuena, 3B
  6. Castro, SS
  7. Sweeney, CF
  8. Baker, C
  9. Pitcher

Against lefties:

  1. Bonifacio, LF
  2. Castro, SS
  3. Rizzo, 1B
  4. Ruggiano, RF
  5. Olt, 3B
  6. Lake, CF
  7. Castillo, C
  8. Barney, 2B
  9. Pitcher

I gotta be honest: I really don’t hate those lineups.

  • Diehardthefirst

    Selective memory runs rampant here and give me a break – I told you naysayers that Mgr Rick likes to platoon and he will especially given the lack of superstars

    • DarthHater

      Except that you keep saying he should platoon Rizzo and Castro–a delusion that is unique to your own twisted umwelt.

      • Diehardthefirst

        If you don’t believe they will also be seeing some bench time them you are loonier than you appear

        • Funn Dave

          Oh right, I forgot that the only possibilities are to full-on platoon or start every single game all season, with no middle ground whatsoever.

        • gocatsgo2003

          Last year, Castro and Rizzo played 161 games and 160 games, respectively, in what were universally regarded as “down” years. I wouldn’t expect that to change much at all.

          • D-Rock

            It won’t. As long as both are healthy and not having mental errors (Castro), they will get their 160 games again.

        • C. Steadman

          Every player in the MLB will see some bench time(only Votto, Fielder, Butler and Pence played 162 games last year), Rizzo and Castro won’t be platooning though.

        • DarthHater


    • CubsFanSaxMan

      I am not a big fan of platooning. Pick out you best eight and go with them a minimum of 75% of the time.

  • Ed
  • Blackhawks1963

    I expect Ricky Renteria to platoon extensively. As he should frankly because this 2014 is going to be offensively challenged no matter what. There is some versatility on this roster, so use it.

  • Medicos

    No matter what possible Cub lineups are presented, the majority of the positional players on the Cubs roster wouldn’t start on most MLB teams. Been a fan since 1952 (only 17 winning seasons) and this team will be lucky to win 70 games. Can’t wait until some of the young prospects appear at the Friendly Confines in August and Sept. PLAY BALL!!!!!

  • Blackhawks1963

    Cubs are on the right path, but 2014 is going to e ugly. I see a 68 win season max. This team will struggle to put up runs. But what is more worrisome to me is the starting pitching. And Veres and Strop have sucked this spring. So not sure my comfort level with the pen either.

  • CubsFaninMS

    I believe there are some intangibles to us fans’ opposition of a platoon situation and also the player’s opposition to it. First off, many fans get caught into the stats part of the equation. For example, what if Schierholtz played every game in left last season? Perhaps he would’ve had 30 HRs? It’s easy to question the what-if’s and we always want to champion one of our players to rack up good numbers over the course of the season. The players obviously want this as well. Certainly MLB players understand that they are far more valuable as a full-time productive player as opposed to a platoon player. I believe we can say with relative confidence that, if Schierholtz plays a full season last year and is able to be successful against both RPs and LPs, his value to a team goes up signficantly. As fans, I also believe some may gain a better sense of familiarity by seeing more regulars on the team that they can cheer for day to day. This is part of the “marketing intangibles” that our front officer have to consider when attracting a larger fan base ($$$). I’m not making an argument for or against platoon splits. In fact, with our current lineup, platoon splits should certainly be part of the equation. That being said, Trouts, Cabreras, and Pujolseses are never platooned. Hopefully in a few years we will have developed a very solid to star-caliber player at each position so that platoons are minimized.

  • mudge

    Gel is hair cream. Jell is the verb for, to coagulate, for a team starting to click. They’re different words. As are compliment (to praise) and complement (to go with).

  • bsblldrm

    You would have Rizzo hit second Brett?? I could understand against a lefty but not a righty … just saying

    • Brett

      That’s the spot for the best hitter in your lineup. So, yes. I would.

      • Justin

        I thought I had heard 2nd was the most optimal spot for the best hitter on the team. I just heard Jim Bowden on Sirius the other day bashing the Angels for hitting Trout 2nd. Hell, that’s like the only thing they have done right recently…

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Bowden’s ideas can be a bit antediluvian.

      • C. Steadman

        Brett would you then bat your pitcher 8th? I’ve seen some studies and understand the concept of batting your best player second, but I think with this kind of thinking it also makes sense to in turn give two position players in front of your best hitter to increase runners on base. Especially with Rizzo, to decrease the shift factor. I think the shift hurts Rizzo a decent amount(eye test disclaimer)

  • Diehardthefirst

    Leo the Lip didn’t platoon 69 Cubs and they ran out of gas 3 miles from home

    • Leo the Lip

      Do you know how hard it is to write different names every game? Plus except for Young, no one needed to be platooned. If only someone would have platooned that damn black cat.

      • Fishin Phil

        Leo, I hate to take Diehard’s side in this one, but Hundley was down to like 135 pounds by the end of the summer.

    • C. Steadman

      How many platoons did the 2013 Red Sox have? 2012 & 2010 Giants? 2009 Yankees?

      • Edwin

        I don’t know, how many?

        • C. Steadman

          2013 Red Sox had one, arguably two…2009 Yankees had none. Giants had a couple but their strength was pitching. The point is good teams aren’t going to platoon their best players, like diehard has been arguing with Castro/Rizzo

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