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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.

  • http://www.draftday.com udbrky

    I like our lineup a lot better than the last few years. This is said assuming Rizzo, Castro and Barney regress toward their norm and Castillo progresses and Mike Olt! does well.

    first?

    • TK

      I LIKE DARWIN BARNEY! But I disagree with a basic premise of your entire entry . . . that 2B belongs to Barney. Having a full-time 3B in Olt changes things, a lot. (I also disagree with your idea that Olt will be platooned – he is NOT a player that you platoon) As long as Olt doesn’t flop, and assuming Barney doesn’t dramatically turn things around offensively, we should expect Barney to be moved into his future role of defensive sub/utility IF sooner rather than later. Very sooner, in fact. It is time that we will start seeing changes. We now have an alternative to play 2B, because we have an alternative to play 3B. Furthermore, its difficult to conceive Baez and Alcantara, and possibly even Bryant, NOT getting call-ups in June/July. Those call-ups will signify the end of Barney’s starting days in a Cubs uni, forever. I suspect that they will be smart and keep him his entire career, but he will not be a starter come July 2014. Therefore, there is no reason to keep starting him at 2B over Valbo. FO needs to start promoting the MLB club, and winning at the MLB level. They will endure a Sheet-storm if they start Barney over an adequate defender who is significantly better with the bat this year. Attendance is down, the product has been awful. Fans are disgruntled. Media (and agents) take pokes at the FO. Continuing to start Barney will be viewed as intentionally flubbing and will not go over well. Unless he starts hitting like he never has before, Barney will not be starting (regularly, at least) in 1 month.

      • TK

        That, above, was to Brett. Sorry.

  • BenW

    Do you see Castro maybe sitting a little more this year? Instead of 160 games, maybe only playing in 148-152? That would get Barney some ABs at SS, and allow the others to get in a bit more. Might also help keep Castro fresh throughout the season.

  • jh03

    I’ve dreamed on this for two years now. Glad I’m not the only one.

    2. Rizzo, 1B
    3. Castro, SS

  • dwest9cubs

    You can’t hit Rizzo second….. He’a our best hitter regardless. A 3 or 4 guy always. Switch him and Castro in the typical righties lineup and i’ll agree.

    • Edwin

      It actually makes more sense to bat your best hitter 2nd because it’s the best combination of getting him the most at bats while still leading to a large number of chances to drive in a runner.

      • Johnny Chess

        Not true the 8 9 1 hitters will not provide more run opportunity for #2 hitter.
        It is quality not quantity of At Bats.

        • Edwin

          8 9 1 does not offer as many RBI opportunities as 9 1 2, or even 1 2 3, but batting 2nd offers more PA over a season than batting 3rd or 4th. That’s why I used the word combination. Creating runs isn’t just about driving in runs, it’s about getting on base for someone else to drive in as well. That being said, I can easily see the argument to bat Rizzo 4th. There’s not much difference either way.

          If you’re interested, here’s what people are generally referencing when they’re talking about lineup optimization:

          http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2009/3/17/795946/optimizing-your-lineup-by

      • TK

        I like Castillo hitting 2nd, considering the roster. Let Castro and Rizzo drop 1 to get more RBI opps.

        • TK

          Castillo had highest OBP on team last year. You want OBP at top, not right before pitcher.

  • Boys of Zimmer

    The best line-up would be:
    1.Bonifacio – 2B
    2.Castro – SS
    3.Rizzo – 1B
    4.Schierholtz – RF
    5.Olt – 3B
    6.Kalish – LF
    7.Lake – CF
    8.Castillo – C

    • Ivy Walls

      Not really, a L-R-L-R-L-R-L-R-P against RHP’ing and R-R-L-R-R-R-R-R-P against LHP’ng

      Schierholtz better placed at #5 hole, followed by Lake, Sweeney, Castro. What this does is plays into the Cubs versatility when they are into the opposing team’s bullpen innings 7-8-9.

      If Bonafacio is mostly a starter and lead off hitter which I think he will be he and Castro thru Rizzo pretty much stay, but if the opposing team then brings in a nasty RH slider reliever Renteria counters with Valbuena and has Schierholtz behind if then the next AB the opposition brings in a LOOGY against Schierholtz, Cubs counter with Ruggiano with Lake to follow. If again they counter after that with another RH pitcher Cubs counter with Kalish,

      The moving pieces can play all over and situation late game moves are plentiful. The trick for Renteria and staff will be to make certain Valbuena, Barney, Baker and Kalish get enough weekly starts to stay fresh and timing when coming off the bench which could be up to 4-5 times a week for one or two AB’s and 1-3 innings of defensive work.

      • JakeMac

        Are you saying Castro would bat in the 8-hole? Isn’t that part of the reason Sveum got canned? Or that Castro is an option to bat 5th, along with all those other guys?

  • IAN

    Why would Castillo hit so low? He’s got the best OBP on the team, it appears. I don’t think Olt hits 5th to start.

    1. 2B Valbuena
    2. SS Castro
    3. 1B Rizzo
    4. RF Schierholtz
    5. C Castillo
    6. 3B Olt!
    7. CF Sweeney
    8. LF Lake

    • Edwin

      I like it, although I’d switch Rizzo to 2nd, move Olt! to 3rd, and drop Castro to 6th. Normally I’d put Castro 3rd, but I don’t think it’d be worth the headache that would create from fan expectations.

      • IAN

        Man, that’s a lot of faith in Olt! (can’t type it without the !). But it makes sense if his bat develops.

    • waittilthisyear

      i think it is important to consider whether castillos obp was a product of his spot in the order (ie he drew a lot of intentional unintentional walks) last year. i like brett’s order, except i would switch lake and castillo. lake could be an ideal 8 hitter. as im writing this, im concerned that his speed could be wasted hitting in front of the pitcher. though i do like the idea of a walk, steal, bunted to 3rd, then let 1/2 try and knock him in

  • abe

    We can use all of the different semi-starters to help relieve the stress of all the day games. Anyone who played the night before can sit out the next days day game..

  • blublud

    Looking at this lineup, I cant help but to feel that with the little luck, the Cubs can have a very good season(compared to prior projections) and surprise finish.

  • ssckelley

    Don’t you think it is a good idea to split the 2 left handed hitters with Olt?

  • cub4life

    The only thing about your line up that i see a something that won’t happen, is that against regular RHP Barney is sitting (which I actually don’t have an issue with if Boni hits well). i just don’t think they are going in that direction (prob will sometimes but most of the time). And against the reg RHP I could see more of a

    1 Kalish LF
    2 Castro SS
    3 Rizzo 1B
    4 Olt 3B
    5 Schierholtz RF
    6 Sweeney CF
    7 Castillo C
    8 Barney 2B

    with some rotations of Boni & Val @ 2B, Val @ 3B, Boni @ SS, Lake in CF or LF and even Olt @ 1B to give Rizzo a rest.

    • CubFan Paul

      Barney-blinders

      • cub4life

        Nope, just don’t believe that they will start the season with Boni @ 2B. He might eventually take the spot, but don’t think to start. (by the way Boni is not Barney, its Bonifacio).

        • CubFan Paul

          “just don’t believe that they will start the season with Boni @ 2B.”

          Why?

          • cub4life

            well one reason is you want to trade Barney, so put him out there. second is I love what Boni can bring to the table but his def won’t be the same and will he get on base anymore then Barney?

            • CubFan Paul

              “one reason is you want to trade Barney, so put him out there”

              Against lefties, sure.

              “I love what Boni can bring to the table”

              So you bench him him against righties for a weaker bat. Check.

              • cub4life

                I don’t think there bats are to differant

                • CubFan Paul

                  fangraphs.com
                  baseball-reference.com

                  Don’t forget baserunning and defensive versatility.

                  • blublud

                    Defensive versatility is why Bonita won’t start a 2B. As soon as he is limited to one position as a starter, his value diminishes.

                  • Edwin

                    Barney is probably the better defender, and the baserunning isn’t that much of a gap. Barney is pretty good on the basepaths.

                    • C. Steadman

                      UBR is similar, but Emilio blows away Barney with wSB 11 vs 0.3 over their careers.

                    • Edwin

                      That’s career wSB though, I’m just looking at one season. And over one season, while Emilio is a better baserunner, I don’t think he’s so much better that it makes up for the gap in defense between Barney and Bonifacio.

                    • C. Steadman

                      I was just responding that there is a decent gap in baserunning. 2013 wSB 2.2 vs -0.3

                  • cub4life

                    now what about those 2 sites is supposed to tell me?

                    • C. Steadman

                      That Barney and Emilio’s bats(offense ability) aren’t similar…Emilio walks more, has better speed, hits for more average…Barney has Emilio on more power(career ISO) but both are microscopic.

                    • cub4life

                      so
                      Barney 6.5% walk rate 2013 (5.4 total) and 11.5% strikeout (11.2 total)
                      Bonifacio 6.5 & 8 and 22.3 & 20.4

                    • C. Steadman

                      so Barney’s 208/266/303 4 SB vs Emilio’s 243/295/331 28 SB

                    • C. Steadman

                      Or career 246/293/336 wRC+ 67(Barney) vs 262/322/340 wRC+ 80(Emilio)

            • CubsFaninMS

              I’m excited about Schieron, Valby, Pond, and Ruggy as well. We could have a muppet team with all the nicknames.

    • Mike S

      This is the lineup i agree with most, IF all works as it could, pretty similar to yours.

      1 Kalish
      2 Castro
      3 Rizzo
      4 Olt
      5 Castillo
      6 Schierholtz
      7 Lake/Sweeney
      8 Barney/Valbuena/Bonifacio

  • itzscott

    I hate platooning.

    I’ve seen it throughout the years that a set lineup allows a team to find a groove and gel.

    Platooning does the opposite. I think it’s counterproductive to sit a player that’s obviously seeing the ball well and hitting well when a pitcher deemed a bad matchup starts.

    I’d prefer to see Castro, Rizzo, Castillo, Lake and Olt plugged into a lineup, stay in that lineup and get used to playing with each other against both righties and lefties.

    • Edwin

      Seems like the A’s, Rays, and Red Sox have all used platoons quite well over the past couple seasons.

      Seeing as how baseball is a pretty individualized game, I don’t put much importance in a lineup getting used to playing with each other. It’s not like Hockey, Basketball, or Football.

      • itzscott

        We’ll have to disagree.

        It makes no sense to suddenly bench a player who is hitting well just because a match up appears less favorable than with someone who’s been sitting on the bench waiting for a turn.

        • Funn Dave

          First of all, it isn’t sudden. If a player is platooning, he knows he will be sitting some. Regardless, I disagree also. It definitively does make sense, because, as you said, the matchup is less favorable with the “everyday” player.

        • Ivy Walls

          Nothing makes sense when math opposes a human intuitive view.

      • C. Steadman

        “Seeing as how baseball is a pretty individualized game”

        Offensively yes, but defensively it’s good to know each other. But playing with each other all spring and then 162 game schedule, they’ll know the bench guys just as good as the regulars.

        • Edwin

          Even defensively, I don’t think it matters. They only way I think it could would be double play exchanges, but even then it’s more on the actual skill of the individual players involved than actual chemistry between the two.

          • Head and Heart

            Lake in CF calls for the ball. The LF or RF let’s him take it. There’s the outfield chemistry sorted out.

            • C. Steadman

              That’s more communication than it is chemistry.

              • Head and Heart

                Uhhh yeah. That was my point.

                • C. Steadman

                  I read your post wrong, my bad…

                  • Head and Heart

                    Just to be clear, sarcasm font not being a thing yet, I was suggesting that chemistry in baseball defensively is not important at all and that communication is important.

                    • C. Steadman

                      Yeah, I read your post too fast thinking you saying chemistry is important in the OF. I agree, it’s communication and knowing the skills of your fellow players, which in the past might’ve been chemistry(playing/practicing together for a bit), but now with scouting reports you can know the skills of a player before even watching him in real life.

                    • FFP

                      ::sarcasm font, activate:: You two seem to have bad chemistry.

                    • C. Steadman

                      Bad communication on my part :)

          • C. Steadman

            That’s what I’m saying, you need to know the skills of the players you play with(1B picking skills, OF arms for cut offs, etc). Nowadays you got a ton of scouting reports and you’re together everyday that I think it doesn’t mean as much.

    • Norm

      What do you mean, find a groove and gel?
      You think Barney in the lineup everyday affects OTHER players?

      Baseball is a series of one on one matchups masquerading as a team sport. No hitter is going to be affected by who is playing 2B on a particular day.

      • Norm

        I guess Edwin pretty much said what I’m getting at.

        • itzscott

          I wrote that Castro, Rizzo, Castillo, Olt and Lake should be fixtures in a lineup. Barney and the two corner outfielders are placeholders for the time being that SHOULD be platooned until Baez, Bryant, Almora and Soler are able to take their places.

          • Edwin

            I was just commenting on your issue with platoons. I agree that platoons are not ideal, but I think they’re a good way to get the most value out of certain players.

          • Funn Dave

            Wait, thought you hated platooning….

      • itzscott

        >> You think Barney in the lineup everyday affects OTHER players? <<

        Not to the degree that it's statistically apparent. Logic would say not….

        But there's an innate symmetry to baseball that for some reason allows a (for lack of a better term) certain comfort level with the certainty of knowing who's batting in front of and behind you, knowing what their likely to do and focusing your batting approach on that anticipation before even getting into the batter's box based on that.

        • Head and Heart

          So there’s a comfort in batting behind Barney and knowing that he won’t be on base?

          • Funn Dave

            Hahahaha

        • Norm

          ” and focusing your batting approach on that anticipation before even getting into the batter’s box based on that.”

          Then they’re doing it wrong. Their batting approach should be based on the # of outs and the people on base.

          • Head and Heart

            I would suggest their approach should be the same every at bat. No matter the situation. Ideally, wait for a pitch you like and then try and hit it hard.

    • JCubs79

      I’m not sure you understand the purpose of platooning.

    • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

      Platooning is rather simple, you are putting your players in the best position to succeed. For example, lets say Schierholtz has a hot stretch against righties and the Cubs are facing Clayton Kershaw the next day, so RR decides to sit him. Instead of a probable 0-3, he maintains Nate’s confidence by sitting him against a tough lefty, thus making it more likely for him to continue his hot stretch during the coming games

      • itzscott

        Sounds good in theory but all you end up doing is cooling off a hot hitter and substituting with a cold hitter who’s been sitting on the bench just because of the righty/lefty matchup.

        I have no issues when that’s done when choosing who a pinch hitter should be but to ice a good hitter to appease the statistical gods makes no sense.

        • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

          We just disagree then, a manager’s job is to put his players in the best position to succeed. If you look at a guy like Schierholtz’s splits last year, that is exactly what benching him against a lefty is doing

          vs. LHP-170/308/245
          vs. RHP-262/300/499

          Pretty easy decision there

          • itzscott

            Those splits tell me he shouldn’t be starting at all and should be someone to come off the bench to pinch hit against a right handed pitcher.

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              So you’d bench a guy that OPS’d .800 against 2/3rd of the pitchers?

              • TK

                And consider how much of that OPS you find so attractive was compiled via a 1st 1/2 that he will NEVER come close to reproducing. What we saw the final 2/3 of the season is the player Nate truly is. He is NOT a starting caliber player. He’s simply another Brian Lahair . . . in his 1st real opportunity as a starter he played well above his head (as many youngens do) for a short period of time, amassing stats that were ridiculous for his talent level, then crashed back to earth.

    • The Real Wrigley

      ^yes^

  • CubFan Paul

    Renteria’s lineup against a typical righty will probably be:

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

    • Darth Ivy

      that’s exactly how I’d do it

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Agreed. Not exactly how I’d do it, but I agree.

      • JacqueJones

        One thing I question is how often people are putting Bonifacio leadoff. He doesn’t get on base that much and it’s well known that speed is better towards the bottom of the lineup where hits are harder to come by. Granted the Cubs don’t really have any good obp guys, besides Rizzo hopefully. I think Sweeney actually would be a better option to lead off.

        • C. Steadman

          Bonifacio does get on base. Sweeney and him have identical BB%. I do like Bonifacio towards the bottom to generate runs like you said though.

          • JacqueJones

            identical BB% yes but the K-rate difference is why Bonifacio won’t get on base as often as Sweeney. Bonifacio’s 20.4% career rate vs Sweeney’s 14.6% rate means that over 500 PA Sweeney will put the ball in play about 30 more times. Bonifacio’s BABiP will have to be much higher to make up for that difference and for their careers, its not (.332 vs .320).

      • Ivy Walls

        concur

    • C. Steadman

      Agreed

  • salesguy

    I really like this combination, it seems more like the bulls philosophy of next man up. Bring up Baez in June, and perhaps a mid-season acquisition if the cubs are flirting with the wild card, and I really like this lineup. Scoring runs will be tough, but one of the nice things about the current combo of payers (both position and in the bullpen) is that we will be competitive, and won’t be blown off the field because of a lack of talent, this team will be competitive.

    • WernerT

      I agree and only say please, please, please Mr. Old Castro (which was still is absurdly young) show up.

  • waffle

    I’d move castro down also. Anything to minimize pressure on him and let him get back to hackin’, which I think is the plan.

  • Head and Heart

    With pretty modest WAR projections for those lineups and the starters, once Arrieta is healthy, that projects as about a 72-74 win team. And that’s with Rizzo as a 2 WAR player. Castro at 2.5 which would be a nice bounce back year. Lake in a full season as a 2 WAR player.

    Olt has a chance to have a great rookie campaign although there is a large amount of uncertainty there. But that’s not a terrible team. If they get off to a decent start it might not be as bad this season as I was/am expecting.

  • Diehardthefirst

    So now platooning is a good idea- when I suggested it 2 weeks ago I was jumped on by all the zombies- MEH

    • Edwin

      I don’t remember this.

    • gocatsgo2003

      Except you pushed for platooning pretty much everyone — Rizzo, Castro, etc. — instead of selective platooning.

    • ssckelley

      If I remember correctly your version of platooning was going with whoever was hot basically making all the players earn their playing time. While this platoon system is about taking advantage of the matchups.

  • waffle

    I suspect MOST folks on this board would have been pro platooning and it has been clear for some time that platooning was in the cards for this team

  • Jason P

    I like your typical righty lineup, but I doubt it will happen with Rizzo batting second. I’d kind of like Sweeney in the 2-hole with everyone else moving down one spot.

    There are a lot of unknowns in these lineups. I could envision a scenario where everything works out and we end up with a very good offense, but I think it’s more likely we struggle to score runs again, at least until the second half when Baez and Alcantara some up.

  • Norm

    Seems like most people want Rizzo to come up to the plate with no men on base and two outs as often as possible.

    • Kyle

      It is odd, but given our lineup’s complete lack of OBP, it’s hard to avoid.

      • Head and Heart

        The thing is the Cubs can clearly slug. So if these guys can find a way to be on base a little more they’d actually score a decent amount of runs.

      • ssckelley

        Along those lines would a batting order featuring Kalish and Castillo at the top hitting before Rizzo work?

        • blublud

          The Cubs best shot of scoring runs at the top of the order would be

          1) Castro (prior to approach reconstruction)
          2) Schierholtz (prior to Sept last year)
          3) Olt (prior to eye trouble)
          4) Rizzo (prior to bad luck)

          You could swap any of the 2-4 in any order.

          • blublud

            Fill in 241-35-69837 with Castillo, Lake and Kalish.

            • blublud

              That should be 5-7, I have no idea where that other number came from.

          • ssckelley

            I am not following your line of reasoning. Why would you put 2 of your worst OBP players at the top of the lineup hitting in front of Rizzo and Olt?

            • blublud

              Because they both have the ability to get on base at a .320, which on this team may be two of the best on the team and in the lineup. Who projects to have a higher OBP.

              • ssckelley

                Oh my word, it has been a LONG past 2 years when us Cub fans think a .320 OBP is good.

                • blublud

                  I didn’t say it was good, just unfortunately, it may be two of the best on this team.

                  • ssckelley

                    But they had the worst OBP last season!

                  • Sandberg

                    The point is obvious and correct, I am not sure how you could be more clear.

          • TK

            WTF?!?!? Why oh why are all Cubs fans so stuck on Schierhotlz?????? Last year, 1st 1/2, he had the best 1/2 he will EVER have. He then regressed to the player that he TRULY is . . . 4th OF type. Look at his numbers, realize that he will NEVER duplicate that 1st 1/2, then reconsider how offensively productive he really is, and whether he should even be starting, much less hitting 2nd! NO WAY on earth he should hit 2nd – 6th! 7th, OK. Anything else is too high. Well, maybe 6th. No higher!

            • Sandberg

              Wasn’t he hurt for much of the 2nd half?

    • C. Steadman

      +1, I think Rizzo in the 3-hole will allow less shifts against him, because there’s a better chance of 1 or 2 being on base than 9 or 1.

      • Edwin

        If that’s the case, I’d rather Rizzo hit 4th.

        • C. Steadman

          I think Rizzo should be a 5 on a good team, but this team I’d rather see him 3. I get the reasoning for batting your best player 2nd, but then I’d rather move P to 8th and have a position player at 9th.

    • Henry Rowengartner

      How is it much different than him coming up with 1 out and no one on? If you don’t have confidence Castro can get on base in the two hole, what makes you think he will drive Rizzo in out of the 3 hole?

      • Norm

        Last year, on average:
        2 outs, none on; run expectancy is .09
        1 out, none on: run expectancy is .248

        • Norm

          Basically, none on, 2 outs is the worst run scoring at bat to have.
          If you hit Rizzo 4th or 2nd, there is zero chance of his first at bat being in that worst run producing situation.

  • Head and Heart

    Here’s a question with Olt and Castro on the left side is there a chance that Baez doesn’t come up this season? I know he could come up and play second base. Just curious if anyone thinks there is a scneario where Baez gets a full year in AAA to get ready for the bigs. I can’t think of a prospect off the top of my head, that has ever been ruined by spending too much time in the minors. But I suppose it is possible and has happened.

    • JCubs79

      If Baez is ready to play everyday in the big leagues, he’ll come up. It doesn’t matter where he plays.

      • Henry Rowengartner

        If he is hitting well, he will come up just when they think his super 2 status will vanish.

        Some may not like it, but its the way to do it.

        • blublud

          This FO is not worried about super 2(unless he proves to not be ready until close to the super 2 date) as much as extra year of control. If Baez is ready in May, he come up, Super be damned.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    Someone posted here yesterday wondering what is going on with Soler? He/she stated that he hadn’t appeared in a minor league ST game for a couple of weeks. Is this true? And if you think about it we haven’t heard much about him all spring. I sure hope there is nothing funky going on with him.

  • Johnny Chess

    How highly thought of is Barney considering the SS needs of so many teams recently, and No Offers?

  • candyland07

    Wow the Dodgers have already sold 3 million tickets and counting……….

  • RWakild

    Anybody else notice Barney is having good at bats and taking a lot of pitches in spring training? I say let him start and see if this trend continues.

    • ssckelley

      Yes, it is a good sign he took 7 walks in 51 spring plate appearances. If he can come close to that this regular season he could help the team offensively. His job should be to get on base, not hit lazy fly balls to the outfield.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        I’m not a huge fan of Barney, but lets not forgot he was worth 4.6 WAR in 2012

        • ssckelley

          I have never forgotten that, I have been saying all along if Barney can produce at the plate what he did in 2011 and 2012 he would be a valuable asset. I would still trade him, but might get a little more in return. But when a light hitting player like Barney drops .100 from his OPS it is hard to justify a spot in the lineup every day. If he can hit at replacement level then his glove more than makes up the difference.

  • OlderStyle

    I’m sorry, but seeing this lineup makes feel like, with some luck, this team can win 72.
    I know, “get with The Plan, Stan… hop on the bus, Gus… no need to diss’ much just get your mind freed and you will see the light of Theopolis…”
    But wait, the upswell in bright hot prospects will bridge us over this troubled water!
    I see the prophetic writing on the EL, but I am a rock, I am an island.

    • Fishin Phil

      Paul? Is that you?

      • OlderStyle

        no, not rhymin’ simon but you’re probably on the one on this board who picked that up.

        • DarthHater

          If only we knew where Joe DiMaggio has gone…

          • OlderStyle

            ok, two people.
            back to the sounds of silence…

            • Fraze72

              That’s funny, I was just talking to Julio Zuleta about this. We were hanging out down by the schoolyard.

  • Norm

    The Astros are batting Jose Altuve 4th this year. They know what’s up.

    • ssckelley

      Are they expecting him to drive in runs? I find it odd the Astro’s are batting Altuve, who’s best offensive tool is his speed, at cleanup.

      • Norm

        I think they expect him to be the most likely player to get a hit and are thinking that ‘hitting ‘is more important than ‘hitting with power’ (if that power doesn’t come with much else)

  • MattM

    Brett, believe it or not I share in your optimism of the lineup. I would say though…Good God MAN! Why would you now have Valbuena at second vs. righties and keep Olt at third. The lineup looks much more powerfull when you do that.

    Bonificio should be just a good utility guy. Valbuena at 2nd could hit against lefties and righties and still be above replacement at 2nd…

    • MattM

      I meant why would you NOT have Valbuena at 2nd v. righties…

  • Kyle

    The Kalish love is getting a bit out of hand. The guy’s an interesting story and I’m glad he is going to make an MLB team, but it’s not like he was on the fast track to stardom even before he got hurt. If he’s above-replacement level as a backup, let’s all be happy for him. But maybe we don’t need to bat him leadoff and give him a lot of starts.

    • Head and Heart

      He may not have been on the fast track to stardom. But he appeared to be a guy who would be capable of putting up a decent OBP with 20/20 potential and plus defense.

      • Kyle

        A good way to show 20 HR potential is to actually hit 20 HRs at some point.

        • gocatsgo2003

          Wouldn’t that no longer make it “potential?” I know it would still be projected to the MLB level, but still.

          • DarthHater

            Jinx

        • DarthHater

          Bah. It’s no longer potential at that point.

          • Kyle

            I meant in the minors as well.

            • C. Steadman

              Ian Desmond never hit 20HR in the minors yet has been 20/20 the past two seasons.

              • Kyle

                Sure. There will always be guys who do that. But the vast majority won’t, and that’s a good reason not to be on Kalish being one that does.

                I mean, “potential” is vague enough that anybody could be anything, but Kalish probably isn’t going to hit 20 HRs in the majors and probably wasn’t going to back when he was a back-of-the-top-100 prospect.

                • MightyBear

                  “Vast majority” is pretty vague too.

                • C. Steadman

                  “robably wasn’t going to back when he was a back-of-the-top-100 prospect”

                  2009 he hit 18HR and had 21 SB across A+/AA…2010 17/34 across AA/AAA/MLB…that sure shows 20/20 potential to me before injury. The odds are, yes, Kalish probably will never get 20/20, if he would, it probably took 675+PA to get there. How many prospects truly ever reach true potential though?

                • Funn Dave

                  You’ve got some good points here, Kyle.

    • Edwin

      It works better in the movie if he gets to bat leadoff. Gotta think ahead on these things.

    • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

      Early 2014 Joe Mather Award nominee.

      • ssckelley

        Not the Tony Campana Bellyfire Award?

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          Sure. NOMINATE ALL THE AWARDS!

      • Kyle

        I’ve got Junior Lake as my Mather nominee.

        If anyone’s going to drop a -1.0 WAR turd on our season, it’s him.

        • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

          Eh…too many folks are wanting him to start.

          Kalish fills the Bench player part of the award criteria. Lake is in the running for the Marlon Byrd Award. The player that could make a big difference for the Cubs but will probably not be on the team come June 1.

          • Kyle

            OK, Mather Award. A bench player who seems to be making the team for weird ST reasons and because he’s got a history with the manager.

            I’m looking at you, John Baker.

            • http://www.friendly-confines.com hansman

              I’d cut the manager portion of the requirements.

              Kalish and Baker are the nominees.

              Tony Campana sCRAP/BellyFire Award:
              Fan Favorite that appears to be a starter but has some serious statistical red flags that indicate the player probably won’t live up to the hype/potential.

    • ssckelley

      I do not see him getting a lot of starts either but if he is starting and continues to show patience at the plate I want him in the leadoff position. If he comes anywhere near his career .366 OBP that he had in the minors then he will get some looks. But if he produces what he did in his last 2 call ups to the majors and strikes out 23% of the time then he is not worth much more than a pinch runner. I think a big reason why he made this team was his ability to get on base.

  • JAllman

    I am hoping Valbuena gets much more time at 2B than most here believe he will. Barney can start against lefties and see time as a defensive sub when we are ahead late. What I don’t want to see is Barney in the lineup and Olt on the bench.

  • brickhouse

    I think both Kalish and Bonafacio are bench players that will get a spot start from time to time. They are basically the 24th and 25th men on the roster.

    • JAllman

      i tend to agree but these two are also probably the best leadoff options. Who do we bat first if not one of those guys?

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