Since most of the commentary in the Cubs blog-o-sphere lately has revolved around who should Hendry trade away/for, I'd like to take a stab at a few things I would do as manager with the current team. I think it was Chuck at Ivy Chat (or one of his readers) that stated the only time the Cubs have gone to the playoffs they've had a very good 1-2 punch at the top of the line-up, e.g. Dernier/Sandberg. It seems to me that Neifi is reverting to his career form at the plate and is not the solution at the top. It's also crystal clear that Patterson cannot be placed in the top half of the order. So what is Dusty to do? What is the optimum 1-2 on the 25/40 man roster?
A - No change (trust in Lord Neifi! and Korey/Holly in the 2-hole).
B - Neifi then Walker 1-2.
C - Get Hairston back in the line up nearly everyday by rotating him in CF, 2B, LF, & maybe even SS. This makes a Hairy then Walker/Neifi 1-2 combo.
D - None of the above.
My vote goes for D, None of the above. Thunderclap Newman's everyday top of the line up would be...
The reasoning, you ask? Walker is obviously a good hitter and showed he can handle the leadoff spot last year. He is also a good baserunner and is reaching base at a .360+ clip. We all know Barrett is not patient at the plate but since Walker can't steal the patience requirement for the 2-hitter is not as critical (of course I want every hitter to be patient) as it could be with a legit base stealing threat at the top. The big reason why I love the idea of Barrett in the 2-hole is that he strikes out less that one time every 10ABs (the best among all the regulars except for Walker). The hit and run becomes a viable option with him at the plate.
Now to the middle of the order. I've never been a big proponent of the right-left-right-left thing. Staggering your hitters this way is a luxury that should only be used if it doesn't hurt your line up construction. Although I'm a big fan of Burnitz's play this year, right now Lee and Ramirez are raking. These two guys have to hit back to back.
So now we have the top constructed...
What to do at the bottom? Here's my choice.
6th - insert LF here Holly/DuBois
7th - Patterson (swing for the fences, big boy)
8th - Perez
With one out or less maybe Perez will get some decent pitches batting in front of the pitcher and he can start hitting like he did in April. Hopefully with 2-outs, he can be patient and take a few BBs.
Well, now that the everyday lineup is constructed, I'll move to the 25-man roster. This is something that Dusty has plenty of control over. First off, the "extra" pitcher is gone. The last two guys in the pen are rarely on the mound and are mostly ineffective. Bartosh and Borowski (thanks for the memories) are DFA'd to make room for Grieve and Wood. Rich Hill goes back down when Prior returns.
I'd also seriously contemplate cutting Wilson and bringing up Cedeno for an extended look, i.e. start him regularly. This would allow Neifi to become the supersub and get some rest which I think he deserves and also very much needs. After his first three weeks of regular play, Neifi has pretty much stopped hitting (sans a good west coast swing). If/when Garciaparra comes back, Cedeno can go back down to AAA.
That about wraps it up. Come on everyone, jump in and shoot a bunch holes through this "plan" or state what your action plan would be if you were the Cubs manager.
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