Cubs Lineup Series: Filling out the lineup card for 2012 and 2015

It's Super Bowl Sunday.  Football, beer, pizza...but if you're me, it means the last day of football and the countdown for baseball begins to get serious.  Today I'm concluding the lineup series with the bottom 1/3 of the lineup.

The old and new school pretty much agree here.  You put these batters in order of best remaining hitter to worst.  The difference is how they view and evaluate offensive ability.

Instead of going through each and every spot and coming up with candidates, what I'll do is go ahead and fill out the lineup card as I think it may go to open 2012 and then I'll project a 2015 lineup.  Maybe a futile exercise since so much should change by then, but it still seems like a fun thing to think about.

2012 Opening Day Lineup

1. David DeJesus: A good combo of OBP and baserunning ability.  Jeff Baker could spell him against some lefties.

2. Starlin Castro: The best hitter on the team and has the extra base power you like in this spot

3. Marlon Byrd: Not a classic #3 hitter, but new school says this spot is for your 5th best hitter, so we'll go Byrd.

4. Bryan LaHair: The best combination of hitting ability, OBP skills, and power.

5. Geovanny Soto: Good extra base power and a disciplined hitter. Could switch with LaHair vs. LHP

6. Ian Stewart: A toss up between him and Soriano.  Could switch spots vs. lefties.

7. Alfonso Soriano: Good power but that sub .300 OBP means he makes too many outs to bat much higher.

8. Darwin Barney: Low OBP and slugging puts makes him worst overall offensive player on team.  He's in for defense.

2015 Opening Day Lineup

1. Zeke DeVoss (2B): Speed, OBP, and hopefully just enough pop to keep pitchers honest.

2. Starlin Castro (SS): Still will be the best hitter on the team

3. Javier Baez (3B): May be next best pure hitter after Castro but has power you want in this spot.

4. Anthony Rizzo or Dan Vogelbach (1B): May the best slugging first baseman win.

5. Jeimer Candelario (LF): Switch-hitter's bat is too good and Cubs will find a spot for him.

6. Brett Jackson (RF): Power/speed combo is ideal in this spot.  Can either drive in runs or create them with his legs

7. Matt Szczur (CF): Speed better utilized here when team needs to create more runs.

8. Welington Castillo (C): Could give occasional pop, but in there for defense and controlling running game.

The 2015 lineup was so much more fun to make.  Better balance, better fits in each spot -- of course, it'll be a miracle if everybody turns out the way we hope.  There's also one player -- Yoenis Cespedes -- who could factor in both lineups should the Cubs be able to acquire him.

How would you fill out your 2012/2015 lineup cards?

 

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  • Nicely done John, as usual.

    I hate to do it, but my OCD is going to make me "that guy."

    I have noticed that for some reason you have taken to calling Anthony Rizzo by his other (middle?) name, Mike. Now I know there is a GM by that name which is probably causing all of the confusion, but I thought I'd point it out since I have seen it on more than 1 thread now.

    Okay, I'm done being "that guy." :)

    One thing that reading your lineup series has done, is make me realize that although managing seems pretty straight forward and simple, its really not. A lot of things should be taken into consideration and those of us who want to manage from the couch should think twice before being critical.

    Thanks as always.

  • In reply to Still Love the Cubs:

    LOL...thanks! I thought I'd broken that habit! I'll go ahead and fix it.

    It is tough...and I even have the luxury of not having to deal with egos, slumps, and other things that happen throughout the season.

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    I love the potential lineup balance of 2015 with switch-hitters and speed. Different than 2004-2006 Cubs with Sammy, DLEE, Moises, ARAM all in a row. 2012 is even more interesting than 2004-06 group as they do not resemble slow-pitch softball team. They may even catch the ball from time to time.

  • In reply to Louie101:

    I hadn't even noticed that but it is an excellent defensive team as well. Candelario and DeVoss are the only ones I'm not sure on as far as defense. Candelario is an offense-first player and DeVoss is still learning 2nd, but he does show good potential there. Replace Candelario with Cespedes or Golden and you may have a good defensive player at each spot.

  • For 2015 swap Szczur to leadoff and insert Torreyes at 2nd base for me. Also another wildcard for 2012 and 2015 is possibility we get Cespedes. That shakes both lineups up a bit.

  • In reply to Cliffy46405:

    That works too. It could easily be Torreyes at 2B. Maybe keep both and move DeVoss to the OF?

    Cespedes is definitely the wild card for both lineups.

  • Another interesting thing about that 2015 lineup:

    Total salaries are going to be like $30 million for the whole thing (assuming Starlin, BJax, Rizzo are all arb eligible.

    That is NOTHING for this team. And I know they aren't going to have a $100 million rotation/bullpen.

    That makes me wonder which FA's they are going to have to target and which of these guys don't pan out. Safe to say that at least 3 or 4 of them don't make it.

    It'll be fun to see. I'm betting that some of the position players get traded off for a young rays pitcher who the Cubs can lock up long term (David Price maybe?)

  • In reply to Still Love the Cubs:

    I think the Cubs won't sign a lot of FAs. They may do that once they are good, but even then it might be 1 or 2 guys to add to the core -- and fill a need that the farm doesn't provide.

    The hope is you can develop your own pitching and not have to give up assets to do it -- but if things turn out where the Cubs have a surplus at multiple spot, then I can definitely see using prospects to acquire an established player.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    So you think that Theo is really going to keep his payroll under $75 to $80 million? I say there is no way he is doing that.

    I understand that you are saying they aren't planning on going all 2007 offseason again, but I don't think that they will go completely young without signing anyone. Especially by 2015 when they are hoping to be ready to compete.

    You are probably right that they won't be signing anyone too big out of the next FA class, but by 2014, they will be making a run at someone. Too big of a payroll allowance to not spend it just because they like the "potential" of the young kids. At some point (I feel sooner than later) when all the bad contracts come off the books, I think they start to mix in FA's and trades for players that they can sign extentions with.

    Of course that is just one man's opinion, and I feel much less confident in it knowing I'm opposite THE John Arguello. :-)

  • In reply to Still Love the Cubs:

    No, I don't think so, but I don't think they'll go crazy in free agency. Maybe 1 or 2 star level players and some complimentary players. Garza, Castro could be making good money by then, maybe you sign Jackson and Rizzo to extensions early. They'll spend the money, but I think you have to look down the road and not tie yourself up with FAs like the Cubs did in 2006-2007.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Should add that you could also trade for a player making decent money that a small market team can't afford.

  • regardless of where ppl in the 2015 lineup are hitting, looking at this group of guys makes me very optimistic.

    devoss, baez, candelario, szczur and vogelbach will all be making the minimum.

    rizzo, jackson and castillo will all be first year arbitration eligible, if they arent making the minimum/signed to long term extensions.

    this leaves just castro to be the only one possibly making big money and he will almost certainly be signed to an extension at that point.

    this leaves us a ton of money to spend in the draft/free agency or internationally.

  • In reply to jshmoran:

    Agreed. Some exciting talent on the way and it should only get better.

  • I don't know why you're trying to put Candelario at LF. Seems to be the 'in' thing right to try and 'hide' a good offensive player out there and hope nobody notices.

    I hate to do this, but I've four words for you: Soriano, Alfonso ; Alonso, Yonder. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. (All in good fun).

    I see a TON of high value bargaining chips coming out of the system which will allow us to improve our pitching that way. Maybe Candelario doesn't develop the power we want him to, but he can be the corner infielder supersub down the line to pair with Baez and Vogelbach.

  • In reply to Cameron Macpherson:

    1B and LF are the least valuable defensive positions, so if you need to put a bat somewhere, those are the spots. 1B is pretty much spoken for, but LF may be available. Also thought about Baez in LF where he'd likely be better than Candelario, but that might weaken defense at 3B, which is more important.

    I think if Candelario reaches his offensive potential, they won't be able to keep him out of the everyday lineup. They'll find a home for him. Of course, considering he's only 18 and played in the DSL last season, that's a huge IF.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Well, I don't think either of us need to be Candelario apologists. The bottom line is that a pro ball player should be thought of highly when he has more walks than strikeouts, regardless of level.

    I wish he could be pumped to Peoria, but that team is already stacked enough, maybe Boise?

    And one guy who keeps getting forgotten is Junior Lake, who seemed to really turn it on late last year, we'll see how he does this season, though I view him as more of a tradable asset.

  • Better defensive lineup (and one with more likelihood of making it)

    1. DeVoss (CF)
    2. Castro (SS)
    3. Rizzo (1B)
    4. Baez (3B)
    5. Jackson (RF)
    6. Szczur (LF)
    7. Torreyes (2B)
    8. Castillo (C)

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    If the all around hitting ability is even close, Rizzo will win out over Vogelbach because of his defense. There is no DH in the NL. So Vogelbach's value is diminished.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    If it's close, .they'll definitely go Rizzo because Vogelbach's value is in his bat. It is 1B, though, so if he turns out to be a much better hitter, let's say .280, 35 HRs vs. .270, 25 HRs, then that spot should go to Vogelbach even with Rizzo's better defense. His offense can more than make up for it. Of course, it's crazy to talk about Vogelbach putting up those kind of numbers when he has just a few professional ABs so far.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    I think it all depends on how things shake out. I was reading some stuff on Vogelbach a while back. I t was before the Rizzo trade. I wish I could remember the site. They were comparing Vogelbach to Prince Fielder because of the body. I don't necessarily think it was a fair comparison. Fielder is shorter and was already heavier than Vogelbach at the same age, but that article has stuck with me.

    I've always thought defense at firstbase was under-rated by teams, but maybe that's because the Cubs have been blessed with two excellent defensive first basemen, Grace and Lee, in my lifetime.

    You also can't discount leadership. Rizzo, along with Jackson, is probably going to be one of those guys. It's just in their personalities.

    Ultimately, I think Vogelbach is going to have to produce head and shoulders above Rizzo to unseat him. As for that article on Vogelbach, they saw him as having a bright future in the AL, as long as he hit, and they saw him as being trade bait for the Cubs at some point.

  • In reply to Michael Caldwell:

    That's certainly possible, and part of the reason you build up your farm is to deal parts when you're ready to contend, as many teams have done this season (Nats, Reds, Yanks, D'Backs)

  • Can you imagine an entire L/R lineup come trade deadline. If Cespedes signs and both Rizzo and LaHair are mashing and LaHair makes a move to LF we could see this type of lineup.

    1. Brett Jackson(CF) - L
    2. Starlin Castro(SS) - R
    3. Bryan Lahair (LF maybe....) - L
    4. Cespedes(RF maybe....) - R
    5. Anthony Rizzo(1B) - L
    6. Geo Soto(C) - R
    7. Ian Stewart(3B) - L
    8. Darwin Barney(2B) - R

  • In reply to furiousjeff:

    That's plausible if the Cubs manage to get Cespedes. That would be a much better lineup with some upside heading into 2013, something to look forward to!

  • I like the 2015 lineup John!! By then, I believe the Cubs will be one of better clubs in baseball, the debate will be Rizzo and Voglesbach. Rizzo wins for now because of his defense but if Voglesbach does develop more, were talking about a potential 40 hr a year hitter, which will be too hard to ignore.

  • Vogelbach is so far away that the debate is pretty pointless at this point. If Rizzo is the real deal anchor at the 4 spot we hope he is, then you definitely keep him in the lineup. Possibly move him to LF for vogelbach since he;d easily have more range, but the chances that each of them reaches their ceiling is pretty slim at this point. Remember that even by 2015, Vogelbach will only be like 21 or 22, so no need to rush him in because Rizzo will be in his prime.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    I could see Vogelbach in Daytona by the end of the year, which would put him on track for Wrigley in 2015...and if Rizzo doesn't pan out, then it could easily happen.

  • I see you talk about Cespedes, but why leave out Soler? Given that hes already started what is essentially at least equivalent to A ball, he should probably be ready to play in the majors by 2015 and be a force. Obviously there is plenty of doubt, but who knows how any of these guys will really pan out so why not include him in the discussion.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    Nothing against Soler, guess I wanted to limit my "what if's" to one at a time, but pretty much anything that applies to Cespedes applies to Soler for the 2015 lineup with Soler being the better potential power hitter.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    And should add that IF the Cubs sign Cespedes he's going to be an MLB player sometime this year. First the Cubs have to sign Soler and then he has to develop. That's 2 big if's I'm trying to limit myself to one at a time per player ;)

  • I expect NL teams will have designated hitters by 2015, so Rizzo and Vogelbach can both be in line-up.

  • In reply to cubsin:

    That works!

  • My ideal 2015 lineup:

    1) Brett Jackson CF
    2) Starlin Castro SS
    3) Javier Baez 3B
    4) Anthony Rizzo 1B
    5) Yoenis Cespedes RF
    6) Jorge Soler LF
    7) Ronald Torreyes 2B
    8) Wellington Castillo C

    I like this lineup a lot regardless of the exact order you put them in so I don't care about those details too much. I think a trade for Garza could make this even better if we got Castellanos from the tigers or D' Arnaud from the Blue Jays.

    Because this lineup makes me giddy so I thought I'd have a little fun with the 2015 rotation and I assumed we traded Garza for Turner and we had a lot of money for free agents:

    1) Cole Hamels (why not?)
    2) Jacob Turner (again why not?)
    3) Travis Wood
    4) Trey McNutt
    5) Gerardo Concepcion

    I don't really care about how realistic it is, because it would be a lot of fun to see.

  • In reply to Andrew:

    Agreed! This stuff is all just for fun. None of us has a crystal ball, but it's fun to dream a few years ahead once in ahwile.

  • It would be great if Stewart could perform well enough this year to bat 3rd. I don't know how optimistic I should be, though.

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Maybe against RHP if he can get his average up to say, ..265-.275 vs. RH with his good plate discipline and good power, it can get you to a #3 level hitter. That sort of player would be better than Byrd, in my opinion.

  • Oh, and by the way, John - Many thanks for this series! It has been a great read in preparation for spring training - only two more bloody weeks!

  • In reply to CubsFanInNorway:

    Your welcome. Can't wait for this to get started!

  • These prospects all seem to be legit and have me excited too. However just for laughs we should all remember filling out those 2005 line up cards back in 2002.

    Names like Choi, Hill, Patterson, Montanez, Kelton, Nic Jackson etc.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Exactly. Realistically we should hope that a couple of them pan out. Was surprised Patterson and Choi didn't work out, both were on the verge of breakthrough seasons before they got hurt -- goes to show how quickly things can change.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Yeah that 2003 season Patterson was showing flashes, and then I think they really f'd him up by trying to make him a leadoff hitter after batting him #3 through out his minor league career

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    They did mess with him way too much. They tried to turn him into Kenny Lofton. He wasn't that kind of player. If he'd come up with lower expectation, you could have put him in that 6th spot, let him hit HRs, steal bases and play great defense. Instead they tried to make him into something he wasn't. Jackson isn't as good a prospect as Patterson was, but I'll bet they handle him better.

  • How about this for a potential good problem to have: Stewart has a solid rebound yr and Vitters takes a major step forward. That would be a tough call. Personally, I think this regime would almost always defer to the stronger defender-Stewart.
    As far as pissibly moving Vitters to another position, I don't know if that bat would play in LF, even with some further development. However, he has the type of ability where he might make you rue the day you traded him. Admittedly, there are a couple of wild assumptions in this scenario.

  • In reply to Carl9730:

    That would be a nice problem to have. I agree that I don't think his bat, as it is now, will play anywhere else. Big year for him.

  • Tom - I'm thinking the same thing as you. I'm very reserved on any prospect that hasn't at least been successful at AA. Seems that weaknesses can be hidden in lower levels, but get more exposed the higher up they get. Right now, I look at Jackson and Rizzo as their only sure major league regulars. I think they both have star potential. I'll be more excited when Baez, DeVoss, Vogelbach, etc. can continue to perform. But you are right John...this is fun! I think this year will be a critical year to watch how those lower level guys perform.

  • In reply to jimmy mac1:

    That is true. AA is when I really start to get excited as well, but for the Cubs, the only guys who have done very well at that level or higher are probably Rizzo, Jackson, and LaHair. This is a big year for a lot of players. One thing I like about DeVoss and Vogelbach is they seem to have great approaches at the plate while Baez just seems to have tremendous skill at the plate, but I agree. Until they face higher competition you're basically just dreaming on guys.

  • Great stuff! Hey, thanks for writing so often, love the cub-updates & you guys stay on it like nobody else. Much appreciated. And, yer right, it is fun to ponder...

    1. Szczur CF
    2. Jackson LF
    3. Castro SS
    4. Rizzo 1B
    5. Baez 3B
    6. Soler RF
    7. Castillo
    8. Torreyes

    1. Turner
    2. Maples
    3. Mcnutt
    4. Simpson
    5. Wood

  • In reply to MikeyB:

    Thanks and your welcome! Great lineup/staff if it works out. Interested to see if Simpson bounces back this season.

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    Like the lineup, and don't get me wrong you have to hit, but if we don't have a pitching staff we won't win many games. John what is your ideal pitching staff that we can expect in the next couple of years.

  • In reply to Larry:

    That will depend a lot on what they get for Garza for starters. I also think by 2015 we will have signed a top of the rotation pitcher

  • In reply to Larry:

    If everything works out you'd like to have McNutt, Maples, and either Garza or whichever front line prospect they acquire for him. They lack lefties, so maybe Concepcion works out and Wood can be a #4 guy. Rhee, Beeler, and Wells could all factor in as well.

  • This is exciting....is there still time to sell the team?

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    Great stuff. It's definitely fun to think about the development of these guys over the next few years, but we also need to temper our excitement a bit, and hope just a few of these guys actually hit their ceilings. As Cubs fans and the many years of failed prospects, we don't need reminding!

    off topic: any word on what's taking so long with the Braun appeal? It seems to me the longer this goes, the greater the chance that his suspension gets overturned. If he was clearly guilty of whatever, they would have announced something already, right?

  • In reply to brober34:

    Thanks. It'd be nice to have some better luck with these prospects. One thing in their favor is that their approach at the plate is good, but also have to hope they stay healthy, which has derailed some prospects in the past.

    Don't know on Braun. I know the MLB try to be as thorough as possible to avoid a mistake. Can't imagine it's much longer.

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    Hey John. Question about Baez and Vogelbach. Baez in particular seems to be a highly touted shortstop in our system with great skills and bat speed. What happens when he's ready for the majors? Does he slide over to play third where him and Castro can play the left side? Or is he good enough to overtake Castro eventually where it would call for a possible trade of Castro? What is the ideal situation in your eyes? And in regards to Vogelbach, he's got monster power but he plays first base along with Anthony Rizzo. Rizzo is regarded as the better prospect but what happens to Vogelbach once he's ready? Just curious to know, in any case it's nice to know we have got some depth at these positions for the first time since I can't even remember.

  • In reply to Marc Butiong:

    That's a great question, Marc. Mixed opinion on whether Baez can stay at SS, but the Cubs are one of the teams who think he can. If he shows he can play SS and Castro continues to struggle, it could slide Starlin over. The more likely scenario, though, is that Baez switches to 3B. That would be the ideal situation because Castro has better tools for SS and just needs to cut down on errors.

    If both Rizzo and Vogelbach are playing well, one of them will get traded the way the Padres had to do this year with Rizzo and Alonso. That should bring in a nice prospect if they play their cards right. Nice problem to have -- also nice to have two top prospects in case one of them doesn't pan out.

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    Thanks for the input John! The Alonso trade did not come to mind but that actually makes perfect sense. Man, thinking about the potential lineup in 2015 makes me gush with excitement. A lineup filled with speed and athleticism with a knack for getting on base. Sounds very promising. Hope we draft a couple stud pitchers this year in the draft that fall in line with this potent lineup so come 2015 we got ourselves a perennial contender. Maybe the Cubbies can win one while I'm still in my 20s with more to follow! Haha life will be complete for me when that happens.

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