Chicago Cubs: Joe Maddon has loads of versatility within the lineup
It’s no secret that Joe Maddon loves to mix and match his lineups night in and night out. He loves players who can play multiple positions, and can fill in at a moment’s notice.
The good news for him is that this current Chicago Cubs team has just that, multiple position players. Let’s delve a little deeper into just how deep this team is.
It starts with the most obvious choice, Ben Zobrist, who has been dubbed as a “super utility” player by Maddon himself. Zobrist can play second base, shortstop, third base, and any outfield position, be it mostly the corner outfield spots.
However, while he has not played shortstop since 2014, he came up through the Rays system as a shortstop, and has played there a fair amount, so Maddon has no problem plugging him in anywhere in the lineup.
Then we have Javier Baez, AKA Ben Zobrist, Jr. Baez is primarily a shortstop, but he can also play third base, second base, and this spring, is getting some reps in at first and playing at all three outfield spots. Adding outfield play and a first base glove to Baez’ repertoire will only add to his value.
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One Zobrist is pretty darn good, but two Zobrist-types on the same team? Maddon is getting spoiled. Let us not forget about Tommy La Stella, who can play second and third, not to mention give great at-bats off the bench.
Kris Bryant played some outfield last year in a pinch, expect that to continue in 2016, Bryant was a very above average fielder last year, despite being graded as being a bad fielder. Kyle Schwarber, who came up as a catcher in the system, will be the starting left fielder, and catch a couple of games here and there.
Addison Russell, the starting shortstop, played second base a lot last year before making the transition, expect him to fill in at second when needed. It doesn’t end with position players, either, the pitching has many options. Outside of the top three starters, Arrieta/Lester/Lackey, there are many available options for the last two positions.
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It looks like Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks will earn those, but I wouldn’t expect them to make the standard 32 starts, as guys like Adam Warren, Clayton Richard, and Travis Wood are waiting in the wings, given if any of the starters need a rest on a certain day.
It’s safe to say, Maddon has many options, and rest assured, he will put them to good use to make the best lineup possible day-to-day.