With the way the Cubs’ roster is currently constructed, Joe Maddon doesn’t have a prototypical leadoff hitter to pencil in at the top of his lineup on a daily basis. Re-signing Dexter Fowler is still a possibility, but the front office does not appear interested in bringing him back.
Buster Olney recently examined key lineup questions for six teams. And for the Cubs, Olney focused on who could hit leadoff for Maddon during the upcoming season.
Olney pointed out that Maddon “changes his lineup constantly and he does have a lot of interesting platoon choices.”
Jason Heyward prefers not to hit at the top of the lineup. Theo Epstein said during Heyward’s introductory press conference he could see Heyward batting second or sixth in the lineup. Epstein expects Maddon to move him around the batting order.
Due to Ben Zobrist having a .926 OPS versus left-handed pitching last season and Kyle Schwarber punishing right-handers to the tune of a .953 OPS, Olney would use Zobrist and Schwarber as leadoff hitters.
Versus left-handed starters, Olney would run out a top three of Ben Zobrist, Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo. Against right-handers, Olney would leadoff with Kyle Schwarber followed by Ben Zobrist, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Jason Heyward.
Maddon likes alternating his lineup to make it difficult for the opposing manager in the later innings. He has been given options. When the season starts it will be about matchups and finding the right combinations.
Cubs Favorites in the National League
FOX Sports posted a slideshow explaining why they feel the Cubs are the favorites to win the National League.
Here are the five main reasons FOX thinks the Cubs will represent the Senior Circuit in the Fall Classic: 1) Those ridiculous young hitters 2) The new veteran bats 3) The addition of another veteran starter 4) Their improved defense 5) Experience from last season
Major League Baseball cleared Lazaro Armenteros earlier this month. Lazarito is eligible to sign with a team as soon as Feb. 10. And according to Ken Rosenthal, Lazarito is expected to make a decision by Feb. 10.
Rosenthal reported Tuesday that Lazarito is “already negotiating with teams.” Lazarito has additional private workouts scheduled. Rosenthal did not provide any further information.
The CCO on the Radio
Tom joins Darin Pritchett and Rick Carter on WSBT Radio in South Bend tonight (Wednesday, 5:30pm CST) talking Cubs prospects with South Bend Cubs Radio. Those that would like to listen to the show live can follow this link … WSBT-960
Here is Tom’s radio schedule over the next three weeks, please note the one change:
- Wednesday, Jan. 27 – 5:30pm CST
- Thursday, Feb. 4 – 5:30pm CST
- Wednesday, Feb. 10 – 5:30pm CST
Those that missed the last two segments can click on the links for the transcripts.
- The CCO Talks Cubs Outfield Prospects on South Bend Cubs Radio
- The CCO Talks Cubs First and Third Base Prospects on South Bend Cubs Radio
News, Notes and Rumors
• Patrick Mooney detailed how the Cubs rebuilt their pitching staff without a David Price.
• In an interview with Kelly Crull, Jake Arrieta talked about last season, being the favorites for the upcoming season and winning a World Series ring.
• According to Joel Sherman, MLB and the union are “closing in on agreements for further initiatives to improve the pace of the game.”
• ESPN Chicago reported good news for Joe Maddon, the DH is not likely coming to the National League soon.
• The Rockies have too many everyday outfielders right now, especially with all four (Carlos Gonzalez, Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon and Gerardo Parra) hitting from the left side. When the Rockies signed Parra it was believed one of Gonzalez-Dickerson-Blackmon would be traded for pitching. According to Ken Rosenthal, “some in the game sense Dickerson will be the outfielder the Rockies trade.” The Rockies might ask less in return for Dickerson than Blackmon despite the fact Dickerson has one more year of club control than Blackmon. The Rays are one of the teams that have been talking to the Rockies. And Tampa is believed to prefer Dickerson over Blackmon. Marc Topkin followed up on Rosenthal’s report and confirmed Tuesday the Rays interest in Dickerson and said the two teams could matchup on a deal for either Jake Odorizzi or Jake McGee.
• The Mets announced signing OF Yoenis Cespedes to a three-year contract late Tuesday. Jon Heyman posted a breakdown of his contract. Cespedes will be paid $27.5 million in 2016, $23.75 million in 2017 and $23.75 million in 2018. Cespedes received a full no-trade clause and can opt-out after one year.
• The Sporting News named its off-season winners and losers … the Cubs, Giants, Mets, Tigers, Royals, Red Sox, Yankees, Diamondbacks, White Sox and Braves were winners this winter while the Nationals, Indians, Orioles and Dodgers ended up in the other column.
• According to a report from Hardball Talk, Major League Baseball has partnered with the USADA (United States Anti-Doping Agency) to investigate the Al Jazeera PEDs report.
• Nearly every team in baseball has shown interest in RHP Tim Lincecum and at least 20 teams have requested medicals on him according to a report from the San Diego Union-Tribune.
• According to Ken Rosenthal, in the Cardinals matter, Commissioner Manfred should learn from Roger Goodell’s stumble with Spygate.
• Aaron Gleeman took a look at the top 10 unsigned free agents … Dexter Fowler and Austin Jackson made his list.
• Hardball Talk reported Major League Baseball is considering raising the bottom of the strike zone. Commissioner Rob Manfred said the league is looking into the slight change that would take the bottom of the strike zone from below the kneecap back to the top of the kneecap, where the strike zone was prior to the 1996 season.
This Day in Cubstory
2011 – Cubs signed free agents Branden Looper and Augie Ojeda
2008 – Cubs signed free agent Shingo Takatsu
2006 – Cubs and Mark Prior agreed to a one-year, $3.65 million contract.
2003 – Cubs signed free agents Charles Gipson and Lenny Harris
1982 – Cubs traded Ivan DeJesus to the Phillies for Larry Bowa and Ryne Sandberg. Dallas Green made one of the best trades in franchise history by sending DeJesus to Philadelphia for Bowa and the future Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg. In two stints with the Cubs from 1982-94, 1996-97, Sandberg batted .285/.344/.452 with 403 doubles, 282 home runs and a .795 OPS. Sandberg was a ten-time All-Star, won the Gold Glove nine straight years (1983-91) and was the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 1984 after posting a .314/.367/.520 line with 36 doubles, 19 triples and 19 home runs for a .887 OPS. Sandberg led the Cubs to the 1984 and 1989 National League Eastern Division Crowns.
1943 – Cubs purchased Paul Derringer from the Reds
1899 – Bob Barrett, born
1876 – Otis Clymer, born