Lou Answers The Leadoff Question, Again

Both Gordon Wittenmyer and Paul Sullivan are reporting that Alfonso Soriano will return to the Cub lineup without an intervening rehab assignment and that, according to the manager, Soriano will also step right back into the leadoff role upon his return, on or around May 1st.

From Wittenmyer in the Sun-Times:

Alfonso Soriano won't be hopping down the rehab-assignment trail, but
he will jump right back into the Cubs' leadoff spot when he returns
from the disabled list in another week, manager Lou Piniella said
Wednesday...

''We want to make sure that he can do all the things that a leadoff
hitter needs to do,'' Piniella said. ''We don't want to take any
chances here early in the year, bringing him back too soon, and all of
a sudden we've got another problem on our hands.

''But, yeah, when he comes back, he'll go to left field and lead off.''

Sullivan of the Tribune, obviously sitting in on the same Q&A with Lou, offers a slighly more nuanced report:

...when asked if he planned to insert Soriano back into the leadoff
spot next week, Piniella paused for a few seconds before giving his
response.

"Yeah, we'll put him back in left field and lead him off," he said. "We
want to make sure he can do all the things a leadoff hitter needs to
do. We don't really want to take any chances here early in the year of
bringing him back too soon, and all of a sudden we have another problem
on our hands.

Lou seems to pause at least a few seconds before answering most questions, but what I'm going to read into this particular pause--and the reason, I think, that Sullivan even chose to characterize Piniella's answer that way--is that Lou is leaving himself the latitude to declare upon Soriano's return that in order to ease him back into the flow of things, the Cubs will be moving him down in the order, at least temporarily.

Arguably, this would accomplish two things:

  1. Protect Soriano from pushing himself too hard and reinjuring the calf.
  2. Minimize the disruption to a lineup that has shown the ability to score many, many runs, even without Soriano in the mix.

For the record, here's what our various leadoff men have done so far in 2008:

Leadoff Man PA's as #1
AVG/OBP/SLG/OPS
Soriano 52 .208/.269/.354/623
Johnson 26 .190/.346/.238/584
Fontenot 15 .133/.133/.200/333
Theriot 9 .222/.222/.222/444

Forgive the question in the middle of a fabulous hot streak in which the Cubs have looked positively fearsome and supremely confident--did anyone doubt they were going to come back from that 5-3 deficit last night in Denver?--but wouldn't Brian Roberts still look awfully handsome in blue and red?

Comments

He'd be a decent addition, but not if we have to give away the farm (literally) in order to get him. Screw McFail, let's see how we do with the team we already have at present.

Where does Roberts play on this team? I probably get flamed for saying this but...... I'd rather let DeRosa and Cedeno play.

That's stupid.

Flamed? Here? You must be thinking of another Web site. The DeRosa issue is a real one. As for Cedeno, I think he's absolutely at the top of his game and trade value, and if anyone in Baltimore is even THINKING that Alex Cintron should be their starting shortstop, they really need help.

A team can never have too many short speedy overpaid bald-faced liar PED junkies. Just ask Dusty.

This doesn't bother me a whole lot, to be honest. The 3-6 combo of Lee-Ramirez-Fukudome-DeRosa has been working very, very well, and I'd be wary about screwing with the mojo by sticking Soriano in there.

From the previous thread... <i>I honestly don't want Soriano to come back. This is a TEAM right now and Soriano is the farest from a team player there is. All he cares about is himself and getting what is best for him. If he didn't he wouldn't insist upon hitting lead-off.</i> This is how the Sammy Sosa had bad attitude started, from people like this spreading bullshit that wasn't even true and eventually was written down as fact. Now in the last couple days i have been seeing people trying to start this crap with Soriano. Who by all team-mate accounts is one of the most liked players on the roster. He comes to play everyday with a youthful energy and smile. But because he makes alot of money and isn't hitting (right now, when has he not hit?), suddenly he isnt a "team player" and he is "selfish." Its like the Sammy Sosa attack play book word for word. I can say this is a fact...if you don't want Soriano back then you aren't a Cubs fan much less a baseball fan. A player capable of a 100 runs scored, 30 HR and 90 RBI isn't playing LF and I want that offense in the lineup ASAP.

Don't get too worked up Mike. I don't think that what was written there is any indication of the feelings that fans have towards Soriano. Just one new TCR guy spouting off.

I said he wasn't a team player and he was selfish last year too; even when he was hitting in September. It has nothing to do with how much money he makes or with the fact the Cubs are rolling without him. Do you really believe people in D.C. think he is a team player? Everyone seems to forget that he threatened to sit out an entire year in D.C. because he wasn't going to play the position that he thought he could get the most money for in the free agent market. He actually sat two games out because he didn't want to play left field, until he was told by Diego Bentz that he wouldn't be relieved of his contract if he sat out the whole year. He thought he would be of more value on the market in the winter of 2007 as a second baseman than as an outfielder, which is why he didn't want to play left. He really should have thanked Frank Robinson on his way out of D.C. But yes, I can see how that is helping the team win. You are right, he doesn't say he MUST hit leadoff. But he does use not hitting leadoff as an excuse for when he struggles hitting in other parts of the order. I don't care how many solo homeruns he hits batting leadoff, anyone who has struck out nearly 4x more than he has walked in his career should not be hitting leadoff. Yes, he half-heartily tells the media that he will hit wherever Lou wants him to, but then when he struggles hitting in other parts of the order blames it on not hitting leadoff. Don't say that I am not a baseball, or a Cubs, fan because I followed Soriano before he got to Chicago and I know how many selfish tendencies he truly does have. Just because some of them have yet to come to light in Chicago does not mean they are not there. A key word in your rant is 'capable'. Yes, he is 'capable' of those numbers, but I would bet a large sum of money he never puts those numbers up again. I hope I am wrong because if he does then that means great things for the Cubs, but I really don't think he ever will again. His legs are getting frail and he strikes out a lot; move him down in the order (let him adjust for a month) and let him drive in 100+ runs, where it is OK to have a lifetime OBP of .326. Don't get me wrong, I want to see him succeed because that will help the Cubs win, but I would take nine guys like Mark DeRosa on my team before I would take nine guys like Alfonso Soriano on my team any day of the week.

<i>I said he wasn't a team player and he was selfish last year too; even when he was hitting in September.</i> Please explain how Soriano was selfish last year. Being a bad leadoff hitter ≠ selfish. <i>I would take nine guys like Mark DeRosa on my team before I would take nine guys like Alfonso Soriano on my team any day of the week.</i> Heh. And you would have a worse offense. And possibly a worse defense.

It seems monumentally stupid to have a slugger with a .269 OBP in the leadoff spot. Johnson's average will eventually get back above the Mendoza Line, and his OBP is phenomenal considering his average. We need that selective eye in the leadoff spot. ...unless we get someone better and have someplace to put him. :P

Let me get this right, its "monumentally stupid" to have Soriano bat leadoff because his OBP is 269 after 2 weeks of the season - ignoring that he has a career OBP of 340 batting lead-off. Meanwhile, Johnson's OBP is "phenonmenal" considering his average because he has 2 walks, compared to 4 hits in his 26 plate appearance? Its only a big gap because its a worthlessly small sample. I suppose you can assume Johnson will start hitting above 200, (even though you've taken Soriano's 269 OBP as an unchanging fact) but he's not going to keep getting 1 walk for every 2 hits. His career OBP batting lead off is just 10 points higher than Soriano's. I'm not saying Soriano is the ideal leadoff hitter, and personally I would like to see him hit down in the order, but Soriano hitting first is not the unforgivable sin that some are making it out to be.

Actually, given the production of the current players out of the number one spot, having Soriano come back into it would be a huge potential upgrade. He just needs to take it really easy so he doesn't aggravate his legs again. Screw Brian Roberts. We need to upgrade the starting pitching.

Something about the fact that I agree with a guy named Porno Dave, makes me laugh.

I wouldnt mess with the lineup at all. I like having it producing from top to bottom. That is how we are running up teams pitch counts and taking a bunch of walks. This is the way I see it. If 1-4 do nothing the 1st inning then your leading off with Fuku, DeRosa, and Soto the next inning. It's like having 2 top of the lineups in the same lineup...if that makes any sense. I like how the lineup is stretched out and is tough to pitch to. I know Theriot is a whipping boy but he is a tough out for a pitcher.

Theriot's a particularly tough out right now. .402 OBP through 74 AB's. Obviously won't keep up for the full season, but he's got it going right now. If he goes through another uber-slump like last year, then we'll talk. But, if cools off just a little bit, it won't be that big of a deal.

Well he has passed one part of the Soph test. Can he hit to start of season #2? Now lets see if its a product of hitting mostly fastballs...like Alex Gonzalez.

Brian Roberts .281 .351 .408* .759 $6,300,000 Ryan Theriot .282 .347 .388 .735 $428,000 *slugging % puffed up on STEROIDS

Come on, dude. That's ridiculous. You're really unbelieveable. First of all, nobody knows if the Mitchell Report is completely factual. Furthermore, which steroids did he take? Ones to improve his slugging percentage? Ones to improve his recovery time from injury? Ones to improve his muscle reaction? You're just making shit up now.

<i>First of all, nobody knows if the Mitchell Report is completely factual.</i> Roberts admitted that at least his section of the Mitchell Report was factual.

Alright then. I have no problems with people not wanting steroid users on their baseball team. But, just say that. "I don't want Brian Roberts on my team because he used steroids." Seems simple enough, doesn't it? Saying that he hits more doubles, triples, and home runs because he took steroids (since, of course, that's what ALL steroids do, duh) just shows that the person in question is attempting to be an expert on a subject he clearly has no knowledge of.

I don't want Brian Roberts on this team because he's washed up/terrible. He's a marginal upgrade for a huge price. I don't understand the Roberts love. Yeah in the past he was good. So were Sammy, Bonds, Big Hurt, Piazza...why don't we just pick one of them up?

Where is shit like this coming from? We're being bombarded by frat boy morons from THE Ohio State University. Roberts' 2007: .290/.377/.432 OPS+ 112 SB 50 (out of 58 chances) He's off to a bit slower start in 2008, but his OBP is still .080 points higher than his BA. And he's 8 for 10 on the basepaths. Not to mention he's got gap power and plays average/good defense, i.e. as good as DeRosa if not better. I like DeRosa a lot, and I'm fairly indifferent as to acquire Roberts, but make some decent arguments when you're arguing against acquiring a player. Not crap like "his power came only from PEDs" and "I don't want him because he sucks". Sheer fucking idiocy.

obviously Andrew is a Michigan alum... <div> <br class="khtml-block-placeholder" /> </div> <div> but that was a bit over the top...chill. </div>

Duly noted.

Yes and all he admitted was that he tried HGH once and never again.

<i>Yes and all he admitted was that he tried HGH once and never again.</i> No, he admitted using anabolic steroids, but only after he denied using them. The controversy surrounding Roberts' strange new power-surge started in 2005... http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FCI/is_5_64/ai_n14702597 Then in 2006... <BLOCKQUOTE> Three O's Players Deny Steroid Use Clemens, Pettitte Also Rebut Grimsley By Amy Shipley Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, October 2, 2006; Page E05 The Baltimore Orioles issued a statement of support yesterday for their three players accused of using anabolic steroids by a former major league pitcher as the players -- Miguel Tejada, Brian Roberts and Jay Gibbons -- denied the charges.</BLOCKQUOTE> and then faced with the possibility of a federal indictment he admitted to using anabolic steroids http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=3159406

I'm pretty sure he took the kind that artificially inflates his salary.

I didn't know an elite 2nd baseman like Brian Roberts is just as good as a DeRosa or Theriot. Huh wow, i am sure all the experts agree also...

Roberts would have been nice -- but, DeRo is doing just fine afetr a very good year last year, and Gallagher is off to a terrific start in Iowa at the ripe old age of 22. If he keeps pitching like this (very early, I know), the Cubs could deal Marquis before his second half meltdown. Quality starting pitching -- you can never have enough. Smardjza (sp) looking pretty good too.

Why not pick up Barry Bonds too while we're at it?

Our next strength and conditioning coach?

Pacman Jones too. :)  <div> <br class="khtml-block-placeholder" /> </div> <div> wasn't all that interested in Roberts as is, he's still got only 2 good baseball seasons under his belt and he hasn't even done it in consecutive years.  </div> <div> <br class="khtml-block-placeholder" /> </div> <div> certainly not worth the price that has been rumored... and I'm not kidding when I say this, I wouldn't trade Gallagher or him straight up at this point. </div>

I respectfully disagree. You can't just go out and get an all-star caliber player any time you want. If Brian Roberts is available, you try to get him. It's pretty much that simple.

just think he's way overhyped, had a great year in 2005 and was the default Orioles All-Star in 2007. Not much else there when you look at the numbers. <div> <br class="khtml-block-placeholder" /> </div> <div> For the (supposed) asking price and his age, doesn't seem like a good deal. </div>

The asking price was my hang-up on Roberts. He would be nice to have but I think our prospects could be put to better use at the trade deadline. We need a solid #2 starter much more than another 2nd baseman.

I agree that it's the asking price that's the problem, not Roberts. Roberts gets on base at a great rate and he's a Reyes-type terror on the basepaths.

If Brian Roberts could play SS or CF then it would probably be worthwhile. Unfortunately we are talking about gutting the farm in an effort to make Mark DeRosa a supersub. Lefthandedness just isnt that important IMHO.

Last 3 years combined splits DeRosa http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/splits?playerId=3933&type=batting3 Roberts http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/players/splits?playerId=4773&type=batting3

According to Mike Quade on WSCR radio this morning he believes Soriano has lost a "step or step and half" since his leg injury last year. And in the back of his mind he's always thinking "to be careful with Soriano" when he's on the bases so he doesn't " blow something out." Doesn't sound like much of a leaf off hitter anymore

When Soriano returns? DeRosa Fuku Lee Aram Sori Soto Johnson/Pie Cedeno/Theriot

I'm just curious... why not Riot? He's swinging it great right now, and he's got a higher career OBP than DeRosa does (536 AB sample size for Riot), and he runs MUCH better. If Theriot's going to hit, I see no downside to hitting him up there.

DeRosa's career OBP is not really relevant, is it? He has a .366 OBP of since the beginning of '06, which would seem much more indicative of his current abilities than his career number of .343.

he'd probably bat Reed leadoff vs lefties if he does indeed move Soriano down. <div> <br class="khtml-block-placeholder" /> </div> <div> Healthy Soriano lineup vs righties: </div> <div> Soriano, Theriot, Lee, Ramirez, Fuku, DeRosa, Soto, Pie/Johnson </div> <div> <br class="khtml-block-placeholder" /> </div> <div> Gimpy Soriano lineup vs. righties </div> <div> Theriot, Fuku, Lee, Ramirez, Soriano, DeRosa, Soto, Pie/Johnson </div> <div> <br class="khtml-block-placeholder" /> </div> <div> the main reason Lou doesn't like moving Soriano down in the order right now, probably has little to do with OBP or RBI's, but more to do with having too many righties bunched up in the middle of the order. </div> <div> <br class="khtml-block-placeholder" /> </div> <div> <br class="khtml-block-placeholder" /> </div>

There's as good of a chance of Lou penciling Arizona Phil in the leadoff spot as DeRosa.

Len said last night that the Cubs all time record has never been below .500.

A long tradition of winning, huh? Thanks, Len.

i want soriano back... but... the guy "earned" (not) his leadoff spot last year with a leg he couldnt even run on and now he's coming back from another leg injury and "earned" his leadoff spot back before he can even walk. guy had more xbase hits than RBIs last year...he's got multiple leg injuries piling up...he's never had a good ob%...he can barely walk right now, yet he's got his leadoff spot. if soriano wants comfort, give him a teddy bear.

The question on Roberts is not is he an upgrade over DeRo or Theriot (I'm not sure why Theriot thing is a question anyway, unless Roberts is going to play SS or people are suggesting that DeRo or Cedeno be the starting SS), it's is the improvement you get from Roberts worth giving up Cedeno, Gallagher, Marshall and probably others as well? That's our 7th and 8th pitchers, both of whom are cheap and young and will most likely be needed at some point, our only backup SS and possibly our best SS option for what? A few more OBP points than DeRo, probably 30 more stolen bases (the importance of stolen bases has been debated in the past), and the guying doing that mostly from the left side? That's all assuming he'll be healthy and productive, too. To me, that's not worth giving up two good, young pitchers, a shortstop who could be better than our starter, and paying his salary. Also, there is no question that Soriano typically cannot do what a leadoff hitter needs to do: his career OBP is what, .325? That's the most important stat for a leadoff hitter. Not only that, but the chances of him returning to top of the league base stealing form are low. Soriano would be much more valuable to this team if he would break his mental block on hitting in the 5th or 6th spot. That the Cubs are hurting for other leadoff hitters is accurate, but Theriot has a higher career OBP than Soriano, and so does DeRosa. Cedeno looks like he could vastly improve his OBP this year. If we had another lefty bat to hit in the middle of the order, I'd be thrilled with Fukie as a leadoff hitter.

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