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Considering the Chicago Cubs’ Roster and Potential Lineups

Analysis and Commentary
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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).


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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.


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor of Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.

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