Cubs manager Lou Piniella shocked just about everybody with this line-up Friday night:
Ryan Theriot, SS
Kosuke Fukudome, RF
Alfonso Soriano, LF
Aramis Ramirez, 3B
Derrek Lee, 1B
Mike Fontenot, 2B
Geovany Soto, C
Reed Johnson, CF
Ryan Dempster, P
Putting Theriot in the lead-off spot is something of a no-brainer, since he is the team's leading hitter and has batted lead-off may times before, but wouldn't you know it, he went 0-5 last night. He lined out for the final out of the game after the sort fo battling, intense at-bat we've come to expect from him, but with a man on in that situation and the Cubs down by just a run, I was sort of wishing it was Soriano's spot in the order.
I have long disliked the idea of Soriano batting lead-off, but the Cubs knew what they were getting in Al-So. Throughout his career, he has delivered diminshed returns when you move him around. The thing with Soriano is that he can strike a power-hitter's fear into a pitcher in a situation like that with the game on the line. Still, he's been hitting well through April, and was 1-4 last night.
In the 3-spot, Soriano was 1-4. A-Ram was 1-2 after being put back into the clean-up slot, but he strained his calf, so the Cubs will need a new plan today. Calm and steady D-Lee was 1-4 after his demotion to 5th, and I wonder if we'll see more pitchers pitching around A-Ram and walking him with D-Lee in the on-deck circle presenting a dimishing threat.
Fontenot was 1-4 with an RBI, but still seems to be pressing and over swinging at pitches he would have left alone or sat back and waited for last year. I still thing he might be the best possible lead-off man for Cubs if they do try to wedge Soriano in somewhere else. Meanwhile, what about batting Fukudome 3rd, as long as we're playing with the line-up? How about this take for this afternoon, assuming A-Ram will be too hobbled to play?
Fontenot, 3B (subbing for A-Ram at 3rd)
Putting a .200-something hitter at the top of the order is not a great idea, I know, but Piniella seems intent on changing things to find a bit more run-scoring chemistry, so why not go with a guy who had a .395 OBP last year? Alternatively, he could bat Aaaron Miles lead-off. Miles has been doing nothing at all so far this year, but he is somewhat used to batting lead-off in Busch Stadium.