Cubs Offense Figures to Shift Dramatically

With the recent off-season departures of Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena, the Cubs have a markedly different lineup than that of recent seasons.

Not only do the Cubs stand little means of replacing their production with players such as Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart, they lack really any power production outside of … wait for it … Alfonso Soriano.

If one were to project a lineup for next year, it might look something like this:

  1. RF David DeJesus
  2. SS Starlin Castro
  3. CF Marlon Byrd
  4. 1B Bryan LaHair
  5. LF Alfonso Soriano
  6. C Geovany Soto
  7. 3B Ian Stewart
  8. 2B Darwin Barney

Of those players, only Alfonso Soriano and Ian Stewart tend to generate more fly balls than grounders. Projecting home runs is simple enough: you can’t hit home runs off the grounders.

The upcoming Cubs team will consist of players who simply just pound the ball into the ground, and hope it gets through a hole in the defense.

It’s not all that bad of a philosophy. Ground balls are more prone to generate base hits than fly balls do, however ground balls do not have nearly as good a slugging percentage as fly balls do. Also, luck plays much more of a factor — good or bad — on ground balls and could prove to be a driving factor to a winning or losing streak.

The top twelve luckiest hitters last season (according to batting average on balls in play) on the roster all had a tendency to hit the ball in the ground. If a few hitters string together a few good hits, then the Cubs could stand to win a few more games than critics give them credit for.

With two key offensive players gone to free agency, the Cubs will stand to have a much more ‘National League’ team, meaning they won’t flash sexy RBI or home run numbers, but they could stand to go on a winning streak here and there based solely on batting average on balls in play.

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  • Paulscholar57

    Just win, Baby!

  • wfn2

    A better batting order is LaHair-DeJesus-Castro-Soriano-Byrd-Stewart-Barney-Soto.  That lineup stands to do a lot of damage!

    • Tony_Hall

      Lahair in the lead-off spot…I don’t even think he batted there in little league.  Lahair is more suited for 5-7, but on this team 3-7.

      There are no good lineups with this group of 8.  There are going to be players batting in a lineup spot, that is not a place they should be at in the lineup.  But I can guarantee you, Lahair will never bat lead-off.

      1. DeJesus
      2. Barney (or other 2B, who has higher OBP)
      3. Castro
      4. Lahair
      5. Soriano
      6. Stewart
      7. Byrd
      8. Soto

      I don’t think Barney is going to be the starter at 2B for long (he fits the utility infielder spot so much better), but his best spot, to maximize what he can do, is in the 2 hole, if he can take advantage of getting better pitches to hit, batting in front of Castro, then he can stick in the 2 hole in the lineup most of the season.

      This lineup gets better by June as guys like Brett Jackson start taking over spots.

      I like the lefty/right thing as much as possible as well.

      • J Daniel

        Tony –
        Why even waste effort responding to LaHair leading off?  Not sure why I am wasting the effort responding to the response?  Does not make ANY sense!

        • Tony_Hall

          Was as good a place as any to put my lineup down.  But you are right, it makes no sense at all.

      • cubs1967

        U can’t have Sori and Stewart back to back…..way too many Ks.
        Plus Stewart hih .151….let’s see if he hits 1st.
        Sori is the only legit 20 plus HR threat; should bat clean-up…..gotta inflate those RBIs if he’ll ever get traded.

        BJax–he’s gonna rock ST (and it’s a waste to start Byrd…….he’s ready)
        DeJesus
        Castro
        Sori
        LaHair (Rizzo)
        Soto
        Stewart
        Barney

        Byrd bats 2nd when he plays CF; if he is on team and DeJesus bats lead-off….but with Reed-Campy-Saffelt plenty of CF to get rid of Byrd for a 2b option.

        • Tony_Hall

          There are truly no good lineups and I agree on what you said about Soriano and Stewart.  

          I would like BJax as well, as it changes the lineup, to more of what you have.  

          Our hitters after Castro are all question marks, what we will get out of them this year, so mix them up any way you like.

          I also have a hard time putting Soriano 4th (I get the motives), and would rather Lahair bats there, but that usually ends up with Soriano and Stewart back to back, unless they are split by Soto, which is fine.

          I think Byrd will be gone soon enough.

          As far as Stewart, I say give him a clean slate and let’s see how ST and April and May goes and will judge him on that.

          • cubs1967

            ur right on the line-up….all a mess-mash of misplaced parts.
            only BJax 1st and Castro 3rd(he’s our best hitter by miles) make true sense. Barney 8th too as the weakest.
            The rest is whatever……until Rizzo is ready who should bat 5th.
            Sori….if healthy… did 28/88 this year… he could do 30/100 batting 4th…lots of chances…lost of Ks and DPs….but inflate those stats.
            (and it’s not about winning…..just player development).

        • Thebearsays

          I like Tony’s lineup to start the season, here’s what I hope to see by June:

          1. DeJesus -RF
          2. Barney – 2B
          3. Castro – SS
          4. LaHair – LF
          5. Rizzo – 1B
          6. Jackson – CF
          7. Stewart – 3B
          8. Soto – C

          or

          1. DeJesus – RF
          2. Stewart – 3B
          3. Castro – SS
          4. LaHair – LF
          5. Jackson – CF
          6. Rizzo – 1B
          7. Soto – C
          8. Barney – 2B

          Thought?

          • Thebearsays

            More than one thought is fine…(-;

          • cubtex

            Murders Row….The Cubs will not be that’s for sure. IMO…..too many lefty’s back to back. Imagine if a lefthander started the game….Why would he EVER give Castro a pitch to hit with that lineup.
            With a lefty starting..

            Castro- Walk
            LaHair- Left
            Rizzo-Left
            Jackson-Left
            Stewart-Left

          • Thebearsays

            Against lefties, maybe I’d go this route:

            DeJesus – RF
            Stewart – 3B
            Castro – SS
            LaHair/Rizzo – 1B
            Byrd – CF
            Soriano/Jackson – LF
            Soto – C
            Barney – 2B

          • Zonk

            Jeff Baker should be in there.  He only really has one skill, and that’s mashing LH pitching.  Which he does very well, BTW.

          • ChadAudio

            True Zonk, that’s one of Reed Johnson’s roles too (hitting LH pitching).

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        That’s exactly the line-up I was thinking of although I might swap SOTO and BYRD.

      • ChadAudio

        First of all Tony, you are completely correct when you say that there are no good lineups with this group.  Since there is no good answer, I’ll just go ahead and opinion in there too.
        That being said, in my opinion, I’d rather see something closer to Ray’s lineup to start with.I know Byrd sucked in the #3 slot last year, but I’d rather start with that again this year until he proves it again (maybe just the first month).  I’m just really uncomfortable giving Castro the #3 slot.  I just don’t want that kind of pressure on Castro to start the year (Castro didn’t do as well in the #3 slot last year)… let Castro tear it up in the #2 slot first, and then move him as the season goes along.

        I know, it doesn’t really make that big of a difference, Castro is the face of the franchise no matter where he hits but… you know.

        • Tony_Hall

          I think, long term Castro will end up being the 2 hole hitter.  He makes a lot of contact, and will get more pitches to hit, batting in front of a true 3 hole hitter.  

          I just don’t like Byrd in the lineup, no matter what spot you put him in.

      • Jason Penrod

        What about this by the trading deadline?
        Jackson LF/CF
        DeJesus RF
        Castro SS
        Rizzo 1B
        Cespedes CF/LF
        Soto C
        Stewart 3B
        Barney 2B

        Obviously finding a home for Soriano is crucial.  But they need to get the youth called up to see what holes they need to fill in the future.  Cespedes/Jackson/Rizzo need to be called up by August.

        Obviously I’m reaching for the Cespedes signing, but all signs are pointing that direction.

        • ChadAudio

          You actually might not be reaching that far at all on the Cespedes signing.  For some reason, the Cubs scouts see a lot in him.

          I supposed it could be possible that Soriano is dealt at the deadline…  It’s hard to say, and I’m certainly no expert.  If I had to guess, I would guess next offseason at the earliest though.  Two and a half seasons is a lot to dump on a contending team looking for a stop-gap during a playoff run – don’t you think?  If they are contenders, they probably won’t want Fonsi for the additional 2 years.

        • Tony_Hall

          We could see that, but Cespedes has started to scare me with his Dominican games.

          • ChadAudio

            I’m scared too.

            I just read that Cespedes is now officially a resident of the DR and is awaiting MLB approval for free agency.

            I hope the Cubs take a page from the Reds when they handled Chapman… let him start in the minors (no matter what) so he can have some time to adjust to a new country first.

    • Salukipitch

      R U smoking something?

    • Javier

      LaHair leading off in RBI baseball the video game …

  • Smcneil

    Pete LaCock anyone? I liked him, but seriously? I like Le Hair but more inthe 6th slot. Maybe Soriano and Soto in 4 and 5 Slots. Anyway you put it, we r goona suk for a year or two then be good again, Let the Reds enjoy for now. We r coming as an anual contender.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JKQGSH67PHSCQL7OCOLRJHIGY TomO

    Where do line drives fit into this equation?  When people talk about fly ball to ground ball ratios I always picture an “easy can of corn” versus “Sunday hoppers”. 

    I’d like to think that ground ball hitters hit more line drives, but that is probably just wishful thinking.

  • Dorasaga

    Ray, nice try. I’ll like to add that when stats-analysts* compare flyball rates of Ian Stewart and Fonzie, they should consider “context” before anything else. In this sense, these two players look different to me.

    *Some bloggers claim themselves “saber writers,” not statistician, so I guess I’ll fool around that word for now.

    Players change their approach if one way won’t work at one other place. If they won’t, they turn into Dave Kingman.

    Sample size matters when we talk saber, right? So looking back 3-years of espn Park Factors, I’m seeing Coors on top #2, 2, and 10 for HR, and as lazy as I was, I’ll call the former home of Ian Stewart around top 3 for doubles as well (3-year data). Balls fly on the highland.

    Wrigley, on the other hand, has been HR-prone of #14, 9, and 15 the past years, and I wonder why I should bother to check the flyball ratio, because the flyballs haven’t come easy here in the North Side. Fonzie could hack. He sure did.

    That’s why, before Epstein “The Builder” figures out the secret formula to win at Wrigley day game-in, and day game-out, I wouldn’t even bother the BABIP.

    There are more than one way to win. The Giants and the Cards, it’s a matter of flipping coins. Which side do you pick? Are we running 1000 games of simulation to compare the 2011 LaRussa troupe and the ’10 World Champ? (A sabermetrist would love to do that, I’m sure.)

    I like the idea of lucky BABIP, but I don’t know how Stewart will play here. He might become another DeRosa, who knows?

    • Ray

      I claim myself to be neither statistician, nor saber writer. I was merely pointing out a trend in the stats.

      It should be mentioned that for this, I used a roster grouping between 1997 to the present for all of the players currently on the roster, with a minimum of 50 PAs, so I could get a larger sample.

      You can see that sample here:
      http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=50&type=8&season=2011&month=0&season1=1997&ind=0&team=17&rost=1&players=0

      • Dorasaga

        I see how you did it. Sample size matters, but 50 PA*? I’m not trying to be picky… well, my old professor used to say: It’s easier to find flaws than defend your own; I guess I was.

        *50 PA doesn’t “normalize” the sample… What’s the sabermetrist language again? I know it’s 3500 pitches for the pitcher. Sample size matters, PA-esque as well.

        One thing I wanted to say is that Stewart doesn’t bat like Soriano. They have different approaches. Soriano always strikes first; he loooooved the first-pitch swing, just one statistical example to look at them. Stewart had inconsistent Iso-lated-Power throughout his career. These two are different kinds of player. Whether or not that flyball tendency is a result of adapting to Coors or not, I don’t know.

        But I guess it’s hard for people to change, especially when they were good at what they do at first place to stay in the Big.

        Now, we take players in content of where they are and what they did. Here’s my second point. Wrigley Field is not a true hitter’s park anymore** where hitters get away with lucky babip. I commented on Martin Prado under the title “Cespedes Establishes Residency,…” Lucky babip is not great when a team needs him most of the time. Or specifically now, not at Wrigley Field during an October Fest.

        **Maybe it never was. Jim Hendry and his predecessors never cared to double-check.

        I believe it’s worth a try, to have more groundball batters with the Cubs. But without the power, or a lack of discipline, that’s a lineup for a 100-loss. We’ll see. It’s time to rebuild and no hurt to try something completely different.

        • Ray

          Hey man, i totally agree with everything you said, but to clarify, the 50 PAs are a minimum i used to weed out the steve clevenger types, and get a larger sample size.

          The samples i used in research of the article are career numbers, but only players currently on the roster, meaning the flyball tendencies of aramis ramirez and carlos pena have no influence on the data as a whole.

          On a side note, i appreciate your criticism and im sorry if theres some confusion. Ill note how i gathered the data in future articles.

          • Dorasaga

            On the side note, if I would research a platoon that goes with the “Wrigley Effect” (thinking along my line of reasoning above), then I would have no choice but start with 36 PA for a sample size, or even less. Or else, we can’t see HOW ALL the players hit under certain Wrigley Occurrences. I have an some new idea for saber writers to play around.

            Anyway, back to your point… I understood you want the sample size with career and players, not hitting prowess of each individual player. I guess I wasn’t clear as well; 50 PA is good for certain contents (batting in a ballpark, platoon, with RISP, and so on). It’s good for ALL players “grouped…”

            Just one thought, could you compare all the post-Selig Roid-era players?

            2006-2011, min.600 PA:

            http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=600&type=2&season=2011&month=0&season1=2006&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&players=0&sort=3,a

            Ian Stewart doesn’t look like a true flyballer no more. (He ends up middle of the third page here.) His home/away split:

            http://www.fangraphs.com/statsplits.aspx?playerid=5950&position=3B&season=0

            gb/Fb @Coors: 0.81
            @away: 0.9

            ground/flyball ratio of Fonzie Soriano:

            @Wrigley: 0.85, 0.76, 0.7, 0.57, 0.58
            @away 0.61, 0.44, 0.67, 0.51, 0.56

            Amusingly, Wrigley wasn’t kind to him. His homerun/flyball rate also dropped significantly at Wrigley. I guess players DO change approach for a different Occurrence.

    • Raymond Firnbach

      I claim myself to be neither statistician, nor saber writer. I was merely pointing out a trend in the stats.

      It should be mentioned that for this, I used a roster grouping between 1997 to the present for all of the players currently on the roster, with a minimum of 50 PAs, so I could get a larger sample.

      You can see that sample here:
      http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=50&type=8&season=2011&month=0&season1=1997&ind=0&team=17&rost=1&players=0

  • wrigleyhawkeye

    I know this was as it currently stands, but I’m not so sure Byrd or Soriano will be on the opening day roster. I really think Soriano will be moved for a bag of peanuts and Byrd could actually bring in some value. Soriano would go before Byrd in my opinion. Depending on how Brett Jackson, Reed Johnson, Campana, LaHair (who can play OF) and Rizzo look in spring ball, I think it could really change.

    Personally I like:
    LF Tony Campana (L) (bunt, bunt, bunt, steal, steal, steal)SS Starlin Castro (R)RF David DeJesus (L)1B Bryan LaHair (L)CF Marlon Byrd (R)3B Ian Stewart (L)C Geovany Soto (R)2B Darwin Barney (R)

    • ChadAudio

      I was hoping some one would write up a lineup with Campana. :)

      Unfortunately, Soriano isn’t going to be moved by Opening Day, and probably not moved at all this year (too many years left on his contract).  Byrd is much more likely to be moved.

      Your lineup will be a good alternate lineup though (Soriano won’t play everyday).

    • paulcatanese

      Best one I have seen so far today, makes the most sense.

      Remember one thing, a ground ball requires three moves for an out. Pick the ball up, throw the ball, and catch the ball for the out.

      A fly ball or pop up requires one, catch the ball, so?

      • Coolpdxcubsfan

        Wow Paul, I never thought of that, really.
        Sabermetrics, eat your heart out.
        You will probably develop a new stat.
        gbcpfd (ground balls creating problems for defense).
        Seriously though, that is probably why the higher ratio for base hits. Good thinking!

        • paulcatanese

          Thank you, I have been a believer of line drive ground ball hitters forever.

          Any further proof needed would be what the Cubs did with ground balls last year.

          They were last in defense, and I would say 80% of those runners that got on were from ground balls,and eventualy scored.

          Just put the ball in play,on the ground, or line drives and good things will happen.

          One dosent need a computer to figure that one out. Except for finding those type of hitters.

    • Coolpdxcubsfan

      All I have heard about Campy is that he works really hard and has a lot of spirit. If he can improve his obp and again all we hear about is how he is working on it, then he will be our leadoff man of the future, hands down.
      Great to see him in your lineup. I agree.

  • PleaseStopLosing

    “The upcoming Cubs team will consist of players who simply just pound the ball into the ground, and hope it gets through a hole in the defense.”

    Sounds like a flawless strategy in a Home Run friendly ballpark with a short porch all the way around… Way to play into our home field advantage.

    • Coolpdxcubsfan

      Do we detect a note of sarcasm there?? lol
      I think it is only temporary. Team Thoyer has seen another rodeo or two and know what we need and see what is coming up in our system. Once some of our hitters develop and we add a few, I think we will be well balanced and good at home.
      It is hard to do, but I am trying really hard to be patient.

    • paulcatanese

      Why not? It worked last year, against the Cubs, all the errors contributed to base runners that transferred into runs.

      It is not flawless of course, but better than nothing.

      I would much rather see that then the days of Sosa,Mguire,and Bonds return.

      Just honest hard nosed baseball, and if the ball just happens to get out, great.

  • Anthony

    1B- a player that raked everywhere and gets his shot-unknown
    2B- a young player who may or may not improve-unknown
    SS- so far solid offense with defensive struggles
    3B- a struggling player looking for a rebound-unknown
    LF- an aging star that should be a DH at best
    CF- an aging, but dedicated average major leaguer
    RF- on a good team, 4th/5th outfielder
    C- solid bat and decent backstop

    The Cubs defense was way below-average in 2011

    What changed? a potential downgrade at 1B defensively, a hope of better defense at 3B-unknown, no change in the outfield of any significance, as well as the middle infield defense.

    Still feel there is a lineup changing Blockbuster deal that Theo will
    make before ST. The prospects of the 2012 team seem dim as it stands currently.

    What I like are some of the backups such as Campana
    and Sappelt.

    If Theo is able to send Soriano to an AL team to DH, and find a contender for Marlon Byrd to get a shot at a ring, and the guy is classy, and deserves that opportunity, then the 2012 big club
    would be better served as a test grounds to really challenge the system and its players.

    “young and athletic”

    We keep hearing that, and eventually it will happen. Here are a few questions.

    Assume Jackson starts in Iowa, and they monitor his contact rate, and maybe it improves to at least 75%. Say DeJesus has a good first half. Possibly move him to a contender. Will not express my desire to trade Castro in this scenario(wish they would). So, assume Soriano and Byrd are moved, and eventually DeJesus.

    LF Sappelt
    SS Castro
    C Soto
    1B LaHair……..Rizzo
    3B Stewart……..Lake/Vitters, maybe a trade
    RF DeJesus……….Jackson
    2B Barney
    CF Campana

    At least the OF defense would be as good or better, and lots of small ball with this type of lineup.

    Also feel Ridling should get a look, and then you have all these veterans Theo signed to minor league deals. ST competition is nice, but there has to be an underlying reason of more significance.

    There isn’t much more Rizzo can do in the PCL stat-wise except to use it as a test of whether he wants to be a hitter or a slugger(backspin versus uppercut)

    As it stands now, Iowa should win the PCL easily.

    So what I posted is nonsense. Theo can’t parade out any version of what I posted, nor anyone else’s versions.

    Deals will me made.

    • John_CC

      I agree that more dealing will occur before ST ends.  I won’t do fantasy lineups for that reason. 

      Soto in the 3 hole?  I don’t know if that is worse than Byrd, but it’s pretty unappetizing!

      • Anthony

        I agree John, very difficult with this bunch so far, which leads me back to the farm looking for some gold. I got sidetracked as BA came out with their college preseason Top 25 and after looking at returning players stats, the effect of BBCOR was evident, some very weak numbers from top players, some atrocious. Makes me appreciate even more the college players the Cubs drafted in 2011, the first season of BBCOR versus BESR.
         
        Since my background is more college baseball related, I have had the opportunity to see many of them play at that level, and I am sure Tom will step up the details when he starts posting his Farm Reports, but in the meanwhile, here are some of our 2011 college players, what they did in 2010 with BESR, and 2011 with BBCOR. The numbers may be telltale or prognostications as they use wood all the time now:
         
        Paul Hoilman:
         
        2010-.421/.529/.860 with 25 HR’s(17.4% K/AB)
        2011-.313/.440/.724 with 22 HR’s(33.6% K/AB)
         
        Wow, classic power, the bat change didn’t really affect raw power, but lots of swing and miss, and if you look at his Boise line, very eerily similar. He needs to make many changes to succeed.
         
        Zeke DeVoss:
         
        2010-.251/.352/.450 with 9 HR’s(23.7% K/AB)
        2011-.340/.491/.456 with 2 HR’s(14.0% K/AB)
         
        Nice. Stopped trying to be someone else, really worked hard on contact, crazy OBP, and reduced the strikeouts playing within humself, and it carried to pro ball so far. Nice follow.
         
        Ben Klafczynski:
         
        2010-.367/.464/.613 with 10 HR’s(12.9% K/AB)
        2011-.368/.448/.591 with 10 HR’s(14.2% K/AB)
         
        These consistent numbers look like his BESR hits were as squared up as his BBCOR, in other words, a solid swing and solid contact rate, bat change didn’t affect power. Slow start in Boise, before settling in, up to Peoria, struggled, made adjustments, finished strong hitting around .320 the last 5 weeks of the season. Interesting follow.
         
        Taiwan Easterling:
         
        Played sparingly in 2010 due to football, in 2011 with BBCOR, hit .302 in a half-season, but a nice player to follow as he becomes a full-time baseball guy.
         
         
        Rafael Lopez:
         
        2010-.278/.387/.397 with 2 HR’s(22.5% K/AB)
        2011-.325/.437/.520 with 7 HR’s(17.0% K/AB)
         
        Nice improvement using a lesser BBCOR bat, more pop, solid across the board, and he did well at Boise and another nice follow.
         
        I choose to mention college players because as they are older, they are closer to making a move upward, generally, if they continue to produce. Hopefully they all at least start in Daytona, and the new regime affords them the opportunity to blossom.
         
        This will be their first full season and larger sample size. As mentioned, nice if Hoilman can work out the contact issue, Easterling puts his athleticism to work, DeVoss keeps being himself as he climbs the ranks, and his defensive home, still up in the air, and Klafczynski puts it all together at the plate. Lopez could also be a huge surprise.

        • John_CC

          Hey Anthony, that is some good analysis, promising hitters for sure. I am not familiar with the differences in these bats, but trust that you are.  What positions do these guys play?

        • Tony_Hall

          Zeke Devoss has been a player I have wanted to know more about…thanks.  I think he is the 2B of the future.

          Taiwan Easterling, I got to see 1 game for the Peoria Cubs at the Beloit Twins affiliate.  I loved how hard he played and he was clearly the most athletic player on the field.  He covered some ground in CF that night.

          • Anthony

            Zeke may head back to CF, lots of owrk needed to stay at 2B, lots, and CF may be his fastest track.

            Easterling is better served in LF

          • Tony_Hall

            2B will be harder, but from everything I’ve seen, they are planning on giving him this season to play 2B and evaluate him at the end of the season.

            Easterling sure looked like a CF or RF.  Never got to see him make a throw other than just throwing it back in.

        • Dorasaga

          MLB Draft Tracker says “Danny” Hoilman. Is Paul his preferred middle name, or let’s double-check (MLB.com can be wrong)?

          By the way, it took me a while to figure out BBCOR and BESR are just different math formulae to calculate how the bat affects the ball since contact. BESR looks for the “speed” result, while BBCOR calculates the “bounce.”

          You could have just mentioned (lazy me):
          http://www.stevetheump.com/BBCOR.htm

    • Tony_Hall

      Nice post, without all the bs.

      One thing, no chance Soto should be anywhere near the 3 hole in a major league lineup.

      • Anthony

        I know, it is nonsense

  • Salukipitch

    There is NO way that Soriano is going to be on the team on Opening Day! He is either getting traded or released. Theo does NOT have him even 1% in the plans. I bet that was spoken of just like Zambrano before he signed on. how stupid does it look for a “rebuilding” team to have Sorano in left. I think Byrd needs to go also & let Campana or Jackson play. We aren’t winning anything this year. Let’s find out about the kids!

    • ChadAudio

      I would be really surprised if Soriano is release this year.  It just doesn’t make sense.  There isn’t a “kid” who is ready to play LF every day for the Cubs yet anyway.  Soriano isn’t blocking anyone, so why dump him for Sappelt (who is terrible).  Might as well just ride this out for another year until Lake, Vitters, Rizzo, Jackson, etc are ready for an everyday MLB job.

    • daverj

      Soriano will not be released.  He might be traded, but if I had to venture a guess, I expect Soriano to the opening day LF for the Cubs.

  • Jeff in AZ

    While I realize it is all in good fun right now, doing lineups before spring training really is just practicing voodoo medicine at this point.

    • paulcatanese

      For a little diversion, and you being from Arizona.

      Look up “player bio arizona state football, Zach Catanese”

      Another baseball player that chose football, and another grandson.

      • Anthony

        very proud gramps………good stuff paul

    • Tony_Hall

      Absolutely, but if you are using players that are on the roster and not shuffling the deck, it gives a good look at where they are at right now.

  • Aaron

    Potentially good news…O’s signed Betemit, which means potentially Flaherty could be returned to the Cubs during Spring Training. With Andino, Bell, Betemit, and the other guy they acquired (can’t remember his name), he keeps moving further down the chart.

    I want to make this clear…I do NOT believe he will be a star…just a younger lefty hitting version of DeRosa. Perhaps his biggest contribution would be negating the need for Team Theo to sign older, crappy veteran middle infielders for depth purposes. At least Flaherty has upside

    • ChadAudio

      Aaron, I think you maybe right. 

      By the way, the name you are thinking of is Chris Davis. 

      Brian Roberts probably won’t be ready by opening day, 
      But the O’s also have rookies, Antonelli and Ryan Adams ahead of Flaherty too.  

      Decent chance we get Flaherty and LeMahieu back.

      • Aaron

        Chad…i forgot about him too….but was thinking of Antonelli which given all those guys…makes it even more unlikely he sticks unless he has an otherworldly showing in spring Training

  • paulcatanese

    5 for 35 with 10k’s, pretty impressive for a guy seeking 40-50 mil to sign.

    I wonder who pulled him out of the lineup, the team, or his agent?

    The way he is progressing he will end up paying someone to sign him, not the other way around.

    I could see him signing that way, without a bonus, and at the ML minimum.

    • Tony_Hall

      Big mistake playing in those games.   I am sure the people scouting him, have a feel for whether or not they think he is “coachable” and is able to get better or not.  But I think he cost himself a lot of money by playing more games.

      • Dorasaga

        35 at-bats. It means nothing unless we are scouts who’ve experienced and evaluated thousands of players already.

        I know I’ve said this before: the Cuban league is single-A. It’s convenient to look at 35 AB and a short season then make a judgement; Dominica’s “winter league” was designed to “fit in” MLB offseason so players from that system can sharpen-up–not for Dominicans’ own competitiveness. With the Japanese leagues, at least we know they are a little better than AAA, each year got 144 games of sample size. Japan (amateur and pro united) also designed a consistent system of sending different levels of players to international games.

        The Cuban league plays 90 games plus a 30-game Super League. Sometimes analysts wonder how season-by-season will fare and translate to Major League standard. Cespedes was a replacement player on Cuban National Team sent abroad, hardly a regular “star.”

        International games are usually played at single-A level as well. I’m not discrediting any “talent” from Cespedes, but for a player who’s been playing single-A most of his career, it’s almost foolish to expect him to deal with AA level or beyond, without a tremendous amount of time devoted to adjust.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    It appears Prince Fielder has signed a 9-year, $214 million deal with the Detroit Tigers

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Deal is confirmed … Prince to Tigers

    • ChadAudio

      Wow.  Who’s the DH? Miggy or Prince? WOW.

      • ChadAudio

        Never mind.  I guess Cabrera is going to DH now.  Sort of odd.

        The NL looses another big name to the AL.  Too bad.

  • cubtex

    Prince 9 years $214 mil with the Tigers! Wow! I guess there goes any speculation that Garza will be traded there now :)

    • Tony_Hall

      Or that they were ever thinking about Soriano…

    • daverj

      Why does that end the Garza speculation?  One could argue that the Tigers are going for it over the next couple years and it makes sense for them to acquire a solid #2 pitcher to fit behind Verlander.

      • cubtex

        How much money can they spend? Doubt they can afford Garza too.

  • paulcatanese

    I mentioned that I would post football players that chose that over Baseball.

    • paulcatanese

      If the Avitar can be enlarged(Idont know how) one would see the gametime program with my grandson on the left.

      At 6’0 190lbs. 4.0, 40.

      Here was a kid that I had based my hope’s on continuing in Baseball after High School.

      All Northeren Cal Cf, senior year. 23 home runs(including American Legion that summer) BA .461 and had not been thrown out stealing all four years. Rocket arm, all the tools.

      Did not express any desire to follow up with baseball and in fact let it be known to all that inquired.

      Football was his life period. Went on to Oregon State to return kickoffs, go figure.

      • Tony_Hall

        Nice that he had options, but I will never understand choosing football over baseball.  

        Maybe I’m biased :)

        • Anthony

          football can provide instant financial gain versus getting lucky in baseball with a draft bonus and then a MLB contract fighting 6000 players, half from the cattle farms of foreignland

          • Tony_Hall

            Do you really think that there aren’t 6000 college football players, actually there are a lot more…only a small percentage get the instant financial gain, the majority, that are lucky enough get drafted and sign a 3 or 4 year deal, for near league minimum (still a good amount) and are cut and barely make any of the contract.  The ones that work out, use up their best years, getting paid league minimum.  

            The NFL is a league where most of the money goes to the guys drafted in the 1st round and to the elite of the elite players.

            Plus they are always 1 play away from their last play, where their non-guaranteed contract can be cut and gone.

            All pro sports are tough to be the 1% of the 1% to make it big.  But if I prefer baseball and would give that advise to anyone who asked.

        • paulcatanese

          Not at all Tony, I don’t understand it either, with the injury factor there.

          I believe both grandsons chose football because thier father was a QB at Tulane.

          I’m out of that loop, besides I am the only Cub fan in the family.

  • DaCubs

    All of these lineups look like an expansion team.  Hope everyone keeps pumped when reality sets in.  Rebuilding this way in a market this big, expecting 3 million in attendence has probably never been done before.  Who do you think will be attracting fans in August?  Huge fan but this looks ugly, Theo never tore it down in Boston he always fielded a competitve team.  Padres yes Sox never… 

  • newbiefodder

    look at on base percentage, pitches faced, and batting avg with risp.
    last year’s line up was not great at all of those things. we’ll hopefully see a more selective bunch, getting on base, taking the extra base– soto is the only true base clogger left– old school national league- small ball even– enough of the old slow fat guys waiting around for a 3 run homer to catch up with all the unearned runs we’ve given up.
    it’s a new year– a new approach– the kids in the minors will have growing pains when they arrive– but c’mon- like we’re gonna miss last year’s team? really?

  • daverj

    A question to all the posters that were pushing for the Cubs to sign Prince … how would you have reacted if the Cubs signed him for 9 years at $214 million?  Would you be happy with that deal?

    What do the folks that said Fielder would never get $200+ million have to say now?

    This is a very bad deal for the Tigers.  Jim Hendry might have given Prince that kind of deal with the money he freed up this offseason.  Thankfully, the new regime is different.

    • Josh Man

      I was for signing him if we could do 5 years or less.  No way I would have been okay with a 9 year 214 million dollar deal.

      I wonder what this means for Victor Martinez.  He’s far more valuable as a DH as opposed to a catcher, but now with two first basemen, the DH slot is filled for the foreseeable future.

      • Anthony

        Victor will be a valuable trade chip for them

    • Tony_Hall

      No chance I would have ever gone that far for Fielder as a NL team, not even a close.  An AL team, it’s still hard to make sense of it.

      That he received a $200+M contract…it only takes one team to say yes.  

    • Anthony

      Disagree based on the following:

      The AL has a DH
      DET has solid young pitching prospects
      Dombro is a good baseball guy
      DET has a few exciting positional prospects

      The only pther Clubs that were probably as good, or a better fit would have been the Mariners, and soon to be newly owned Dodgers, basically Prince’s backyard as a youth.

    • paulcatanese

      You got me on this one, I believed that no one would have given out that kind of money or contract to him. I was wrong. Hope it helps Detroit financially.

  • paulcatanese

    Financially for the Cubs, the signing of Fielder according to some may open the door for them going after Cespedes.

    OK, I give up, if the Cubs want to sign him, who am I to stand in the way.
    The important thing is, its not like the Cubs havent made mistakes in the past, big ones, so why not this one, it may top all of the others.

    • cubs1967

      I agree…….Tigers out now on Centipede…….but the Marlins have been openly vocal about not being out bid…..I would let the Fish run it up & they can keep him………in 2 or 3 yrs all of them will be traded away again when the “newness” of the park falls apart.

      • paulcatanese

        Thats where I think he will end up,in Florida.

    • SuzyS

      Paul, Way too many bad signings to top all the others…Uncle Milty being one of the worst…Mr. Jones…Soriano/ Shark etc etc etc.  I’m not for Cespedes…but it would be far from the worst…I’m hoping they pass on Cespedes and sign Soler that might fit in the mold better of a developing team.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cespedes has gained residency in the Dominican

    http://mlb.mlblogs.com/2012/01/24/cespedes-gains-residency-in-the-dr/

    • Tony_Hall

      Let the bidding begin.  

      I just don’t see anyone going $50M for this guy, without it being for many years, with a opt out for the player, after 3 or 4 years.  

    • paulcatanese

      Neil, I just glanced at you’re post and for a split second I thought you said Cespedes had gained the Presidency in the
      Dominican:)

  • Anthony

    So, if no Blockbuster lineup changing trade happens for the Cubs, and the 25 man roster will be assembled from the current group, wouldn’t a smallball offense require having solid, above-average pitching and defense?

    The pitching may hold promise, but the defense is still suspect in many areas and the additions of DeJesus and Stewart aren’t impactful enough to warrant any major improvement.

    During this mess, rebuild, transition, whatever one wants to call it, forking over $30-60M dollars on a Cuban with a hole in his bat doesn’t make sense. Since this “transition” also timed up with a weak free agent class in general, and the new regime unfamiliar with our prospects as far as “the eye test” evaluations, a somewhat Perfect Storm, to coin a term, has occured.

    I’m good with testing out some prospects at the big league level, if they are the right ones. I still question all the aging veteran signings to minor league deals thinking it means more than ST fillers. Again, based on them saying “every season is a precious opportunity to win”

    I also think major deals may happen simply because there are no Impact players, proven, at any of the positions, and that includes your SS, because .302 with 207 hits means .302 due to many at bats. Soriano WAS impactful, years ago.

    Ask yourself this question. Other than Castro, and maybe Soto, which remaining position players would start on any .500 or better Club?

    NONE

    • EqDoc

      I would hope that they save the money for Cespedes and use it to go get Solar and Concepcion.  I think that would make a lot more sense.

    • daverj

      Ummmm … .302 over many at-bats is a very good thing … much better than .302 over a few at-bats.

    • Tony_Hall

      Wouldn’t want Soto either.

      Brett Jackson
      Anthony Rizzo
      Zeke Devoss
      Josh Vitters
      Matt Szczur
      ETC, ETC

      You get the point, when these guys are ready, no one will be blocking them, that they won’t cast aside.

      • Anthony

        Agree

        • Tony_Hall

          There must be something in the air…I’ve been agreeing with Cubs1967 and now Anthony and I agree!

      • Chadaudio

        Tony, I’m surprised you’d say that. Really? You don’t want Soler because our farm system would be too deep?

        Aren’t the odds that all those players you listed being successful in the big leagues one in a million? Look, if we end up developing too many every-day MLB starting OF’s we can just trade them later.

        Until then, let’s get as much of the best while the CBA allows, and then let the cream rise to the top.

        • Tony_Hall

          I’m not following you…I never mentioned Soler.

          I have said previously, that I would like Soler and Concepcion.

          Of course you always add on prospects.

          No list of prospects for the future, ever comes with the thought that ALL of them will make it.

          • Chadaudio

            Sorry I must have misunderstood… I’ll blame reading the thread on my phone. Thanks for the correction.

        • Anthony

          he said Soto, and the Cuban is the age of a HS freshman

          • Anthony

            college freshman, err corr..

  • Anthony

    No coincidence the Centepede residency is gained and made public hours after Fielder signs?

    Another marketing effort to fill real-time news putting your player in the media at the same time as an all star?

  • John_CC

    I have a simple question, it is not rhetorical. Anyone may answer but it directed at those of you claiming that the Cubs defense will not be better than last year (you know who you are).

    Do you believe that the defensive skills of a ball player in his 20s can improved with good coaching and hard work? 

    If you answered No, then: is it an age issue, is it innate in the player’s physical ability? At what age or point of development in a player’s career do they stop improving?

    • Anthony

      took the bait…

      John, it starts with the physical tools, then its all of the things you mentioned

      Are poor throws the result of being out of position, is being out of position the result of poor perception, physical deficiency in range, poor judgement, awkwardness, bad footwork, odd throwing motion, any combination of these?

      Its not whether you catch the ball, its more of where you catch the ball, anticipating hops, and being in a good throwing position, and I use Vizquel for SS, Alomar for 2B, Edmunds in CF as examples of defensive greatness for those positions.

      Good coaching and hard work can polish off a player if the player possesses the base skillset/tools, but I qualify the comment by stating “you can’t make filet mignon from hamburger”

      Can you teach a RF to go full bore toward the RF line on a flare hit, grab it, do a 180 and all in one motion fire a hose from 250 out to nab a runner at 3B?

      1. Ability to anticipate the landing area–tracking
      2. Athletic enough to sprint there quickly
      3. Coordinated to do the 180—–footwork
      4. Have a rifle of an arm and accurate–gift
      5. Ability to do it naturally—-awareness of field and body

      CF requires tracking and speed. Most of the great plays they make are when their back faces home plate and momentum toward the wall, so arm strength isn’t really necessary, and LF is the default spot where average defense is a bonus.

      Since I took the bait, I won’t bring up you know who, but I still hold to my opinion.

      • John_CC

        I understand that there are a lot of variables.  That is why I did not ask if an average defender can be coached and work his way into being a special defender.

        So, your answer is Yes, a ball player can learn how to be a better defender.  Learning to be in the right position, being coached to focus on the game (not your seed bag!), teaching footwork, coaching and practicing double play turns, etc etc etc…

        I did not pose this question to get specific about Castro or anyone else.  I do not believe that Soriano can be taught to a much better OF, but he can probably improve some.

        My point is, that Dave Sveum and his staff are committed to having a better – and eventually very strong – defensive team.  They will coach and teach fundamentals.  Young players like Stewart, Castro, Barney and Rizzo will work hard to improve their fundamentals if they want to play. 

        I am not saying that this infield will be special, but I do believe Sveum is very serious about improving the fundamental defensive play of this squad.  I believe that the Cubs defense will improve over last year because of it. Not because you (not just you) can list a bunch of players and arbitrarily say that there is no improvement hence the defense will again suck this year.

        • Anthony

          didn’t say suck, said no major differences

          • John_CC

            Last year’s defense sucked…so I’ll say it. No major difference = suck.

        • Anthony

          John, every player in professional baseball is there because each has something to offer, from one solid or plus tool, to multiple, to a player having 5 average tools, that play well, like Jackson for example. He is one of several who are what’s called, a baseball player. None stick out, but none are below-average.

          I mentioned DeVoss earlier. One standout tool is speed, good contact and OBP skill, below average hit tool, no power, and right now, a defensive issue. He is best served as a CF to take advantage of speed making up for the need to be better at reads and routes versus turning him from an athlete into an artist at 2B.

          • cubtex

            Anthony…do you know Zeke DeVoss’ history? He was a high school shortstop….was moved to CF at Miami and was moved to 2B his last year at Miami due to an injury. The Cubs know he has more value at 2b so that is why tried him there and will continue to try him there.

          • Anthony

            yes, I do tex, and when the season ended, Theo wasn’t hired yet, so if Hendry/Wilken said 2B, Theo/Hoyer may see it differently

        • cubtex

          This is not a shot at Sveum…..but have you ever heard of a new manager saying they wouldn’t stress defense and fundamentals? He can make a little difference based on how he runs his spring training camp…but it won’t be major. If a player is average to below average to average defensively….they will still be even with a new manager.

          • John_CC

            Of course not, you’re right no new, young manager would say differently.  But Sveum is very convincing when he talks about it. I believe he, and his staff, will make a difference.

    • Dorasaga

      Physically, raw defensive skills start eroding around age 22. That’s according to fangraphs and Hardball Time researches I’ve read (one or two of them were based on academic researches; I would need serious google work to quote them). It’s not difficult to see this. Tennis players and swimmers in general are best at their age 16-22 group. Those sports demand higher overall-athleticism, with all the body parts, rotation, cardiovascular sustainability, involved at a longer period of continuous playing time.

      But I like Scot Rolen. I believe if you got the talent, dedication, and proper coaching, one skill will compensate one other loss. In the end, a good defensive player can field to his 30s without any sign of falling behind. A selected few had done it–Rolen at 3B–very competitive position to field right, and Jeter at short.

      And I believe Starlin Castro is one of the selected few, until he’ll prove me wrong three or four years from now.

  • frustrated

    Why they failed to metion LaHair a a power soure is beyond me.  He hit 55 hr sinc training camp last year.

    • Anthony

      me thinks he’ll mash

      that old stigma exists, probably undeserving

  • Anthony

    This would be way too cool.

    Dombro gets the Centipede and overpays, then gets Garza for the Farm, and the Tigers win 110 games and breeze their way to the 2012 WS Title, then retires and rides off into the sunset

    Up yours Anaheim or whatever, they were the Cali Angels, up yours Nolan Ryan and the Senat……Tejas Rangerinos, and fuget the rest of the chumps.

    I have to give this guy credit, and if I had a son in the game, DET would be OK by me.

    He ain’t gonna give the Farm for anybody, and they will bash their way to the WS because he built it right, kind of like Hart and the Tribe back in the 90’s.

    Again, evidence of a plan, as we pine to steal their pitching prospects that we don’t have and evidence of how far the Cubs are behind.

    DET fans are worried about Victor Martinez?

    GONE

    Way GONE, easily replaceable.

    I love the game, hate the business side of it!

    The Cubs best hitter is a chop at his position?

    Sometimes, you gotta make a move, a bold one.

    Hats off to DET, the American League is a DH league, and fatman has a nice swing with quick hands.

    • John G

      It’s not just Dombrowski, It’s the Pizza King, Little Caeser, Mike Ilitch, who gave him the go ahead. There’s talk in Detroit that Ilitch himself called Boras and asked “What’ll it take?” An owner with deep pockets, not afraid to spend it and hungry for a WS. What he did was a typical fan move, not a typical owner move. My hat’s off to him. They say he’s wanted Prince on his team ever since he saw him hit one out of Tiger Stadium…when he was 12 years old.

      Now imagine, next year, after the Tigers win a WS, Inge will be gone and Martinez back. Miggy at third (not a gold glove, but acceptible) Fielder at first and Marinez at DH. With those three batting 3,4,5 there’s gonna be a whole lotta runs scored.

      Finally, it’s cool seeing Prince back where his daddy played. Here’s hoping that the two of them can make up those lost years that they never spoke to each other. Opening day at Comerica Park would be really cool if Cecil throws out the first pitch and Prince catches it.

      Tigers – Cubs in the 2013 WS.

      • Tony_Hall

        As I asked Aaron- Miggy can’t play 3B anymore.  

  • http://twitter.com/MattWeaverSBN Matt Weaver

    Cubs offense to shift to non-existence.

  • Aaron

    I’m starting to actually believe rumors I’m seeing on Twitter from Detroit fans, claiming that the Tigers will meet the Cubs’ demands of Turner and Castellanos for Garza….in which case, the Cubs would likely flip Vitters for pitching, or simply send him to the Red Sox as Theo compensation (which would be a travesty if that happened).

    With Garza, they wouldn’t be tied up long-term, and could choose to go “all-in” next year with a rotation headed by Verlander, Garza, Scherzer, and Fister.

    I would think by adding Fielder, it almost makes the move a no-brainer, simply because they will not cut ties with Martinez next year after he signed his deal last offseason, and they now have Cabrera, Martinez, and Fielder as options for 1B, 3B, and DH by the time Castellanos would even be ready for MLB action. As for Turner, with Verlander, Scherzer, Fister, Garza (if acquired), Crosby, Oliver, and Smyly, they’d have significant rotation depth. In fact, it’d make even more sense to expand the deal to include someone like Byrd or Barney, and include Smyly, Oliver, or Crosby as well in that deal.

    I don’t know about you guys, but Garza is NOT an ace caliber pitcher at the moment…he’s always had that potential, but “potential” is the operative word here. He filed for $12 million or whatever, and the Cubs countered at almost $5 million less than that. I just don’t see how he’s worth that kind of money at this point with his age and career progression. If he had ERA’s consistently in the high 2’s, low 3’s range, then he’d absolutely be worth that kind of money in arbitration.

    I believe his arbitration filing will push Team Theo even more in the direction of trading him, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering the Cubs likely won’t even compete this year, much less next year, and he’ll be a FA by the time they’re ready to compete anyway.

  • BBCOR

    BBCOR says: guess things haven’t turned out very well. Guess we can wait another year, it’s only been 104 years.