One of the many questions Joe Maddon will be answering on a daily basis is about his lineup. And those that paid attention to his lineups in Tampa know the only constant with his batting order is change. Maddon mixes it up trying to find the right combinations while running players in and out in order to keep them fresh.
Joe Maddon used only 129 different lineups last year, his lowest total in three years. Maddon used 147 lineup combinations in 2013 and 151 lineups during the 2012 season.
Maddon has addressed lineup construction several times since taking the Cubs job. He admitted a couple of weeks ago, that he hasn’t started scribbling lineups on paper yet. Maddon needs to see the players and get to know them first.
“I’ve not written down one lineup yet,” Maddon said. “I’ve just been trying to suck up information. Biggest thing I’ve got to do right now, walking in the door is to build relationships with these guys and earn their trust. That’s my main priority.”
Over time and once the young players mature at the Major League level, Maddon could have a more consistent lineup, and that’s something that he would like to have with the Cubs.
“I think every manager’s dream is to have a lineup that he really likes 1-8 or 1-9 and stay with it versus a righty and then stay with it versus a lefty,” Maddon said. “I think we have to be creative in regards to how we build the lineup versus righties and lefties.”
“When you just want to talk about the static stuff, it’s really easy and everybody would love to have, it’s not that easy to do and be successful, especially with all of the moving parts we have there with the Cubs and Wrigley. I am really eager to look into all of that. I’ve already talked to Theo [Epstein] and Jed [Hoyer] and some of the brainiacs over there to start getting me some intel and information regarding how to do all of that stuff.”
Joe Maddon has not ruled out batting the pitcher eighth in the lineup on some occasions. Maddon asked the front office to start gathering information on the benefits of batting a pitcher eighth in December. And during the convention last month, Maddon said he was looking into hitting the pitcher eighth.
Carrie Muskat asked Jed Hoyer about what the lineup might look like this year. Hoyer said it is “dangerous to write up a lineup card in January.” Injuries can happen and a lot can change before Opening Day. Hoyer is confident with the roster the front office has put together that the lineup will have more experienced guys in the sixth, seventh and eighth spots than in previous seasons. And with players that know how to get on-base.
Even with Maddon saying on multiple occasions he has not written down a lineup yet, a projected lineup made its way on to a report from Carrie Muskat: CF Dexter Fowler, LF Chris Coghlan, 1B Anthony Rizzo, SS Starlin Castro, 2B Javier Baez, RF Jorge Soler, 3B Mike Olt, C Miguel Montero.
The first lineups of the spring will be posted in 15 days when the Cubs begin Cactus League play in Mesa hosting the Athletics and in Scottsdale taking on the Giants.