When the Cubs take the field this Sunday in their Cactus League opener it may give Cubs fan the chance to see what the possible opening day lineup might be for the Cubs. For the most part, the Cubs have their position players set. With the exception being at the second base position, where Blake DeWitt, Jeff Baker, and Darwin Barney all figure to fight for some starting time at second base. But even with the Cubs position players being mostly set, there still is some intrigue when it comes to penciling out the Cubs starting lineup.
Mike Quade did drop a few hints today as to how his lineup will shape up. Quade told reporters that he loves shortstop Starlin Castro as the # 2 hitter in the lineup.
"“I love having him with the possibility of someone ahead of him on base, to shoot (one through) a hole,” Quade said. “Because he runs well enough, he shouldn’t hit into (a double play). So there’s all sorts of value to where he’s at now. I’d like to think he’s going to be talented enough to possibly be that (leadoff) guy some day. But for right now… it’ll be something we consider, but I’d just as soon leave him.“I am leery, and I hope he proves me wrong, about the second year (slump). If we want this guy to play well and get off to a decent start, with all the adjustments that are going to be made by other clubs on him, if we leave him somewhere where we believes he’s comfortable because he excelled there, at least we’d like to do that.“But I’m a grown-up. I reserve my right to change. And you know what? Maybe Starlin makes all his adjustments and he makes the change. I don’t make the change, and that’s even better.” Chicago Tribune"
Keeping Castro in the #2 hole in the Cubs lineup, would seem to be the best move for the Cubs and Castro himself. Like Quade, I’m skeptical on the idea that Castro is a leadoff hitter. But, I think Castro is a perfect fit batting second in the Cubs lineup. When talking about Starlin Castro this season, obviously, there is going to be talk of a sophomore slump. But from what I saw out of Castro in his rookie campaign, I’m more inclined to believe that he will avoid the dreaded slump. For one, Castro was one of a very select group of players that hit .300 in their ’20 year old’ season. Also, last season Castro had a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in play) of .346, which was the 7th highest in the National League last year.
Along with Castro in the second spot in the lineup, Quade also hinted that Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena will hit 4th and 5th respectively in the Cubs lineup. It was expected that both Ramirez and Pena would be back-to-back in the Cubs lineup. Aramis Ramirez is the better candidate for the cleanup spot, as he is capable of putting up more of an average than Pena. The 5 spot is ideal for Pena, considering he is recognized for his power, that may give the Cubs and Pena the most chances to produce runs. Marlon Byrd will probably precede Ramirez and Pena in the #3 spot.
Now comes the intriguing 6-7-8 spots in the Cubs lineup. More than likely those three spots will consist of Geovany Soto, Alfonso Soriano, and Tyler Colvin in some order. The standard for the Cubs in the past two seasons would be for Alfonso Soriano to bat sixth. My gut feeling is that Mike Quade will continue to go with Soriano in the six hole, but I’m not sure if it is the right move. Ideally, Tyler Colvin may be the best fit for the sixth spot in the lineup over Soriano. Last season, Colvin had an isolated power average of .246 compared to .238 from Soriano. But, Colvin had the higher strikeout percentage of 27.9% compared to 24.8% from Soriano. While Colvin may be the best fit for the sixth spot, I anticipate that Quade will have Soriano batting sixth followed by Colvin, and Soto.
When all is said and done, here is what I think the Cubs opening day lineup will look like…
- 2B Blake DeWitt
- SS Starlin Castro
- CF Marlon Byrd
- 3B Aramis Ramirez
- 1B Carlos Pena
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- RF Tyler Colvin
- C Geovany Soto
- Pitcher’s Spot
What do you think? Personally, I like the potential of the Cubs lineup this year. You can’t really expect Carlos Pena to hit .196 again. Neither can you expect Aramis Ramirez to have the same miserable start to this season as he did to last season. Plus, the progression of both Starlin Castro and Tyler Colvin will be beneficial to the Cubs offense this season.