I’ve only been a Cubs fan for 13 years, but I’ve already learned an important lesson many older Cubs fans still refuse to accept today: Correctly predicting when the Cubs will win a World Series is about as likely as correctly predicting when we’ll run out of oil.
It’s bound to happen (knock on wood), but nobody knows when.
I don’t plan on reverting back to my naïve ways, so I won’t make any bold proclamations of postseason success for the Lovable Losers (somebody tell Big-Z and Dempster, please?).
That being said, I do believe that the Cubs' 2009 lineup looks promising—especially if Lou is willing to make some changes from the playoff lineup that made Padres’ hitters look like All-Stars.
If so, the lineup could look like this:
1. Ryan Theriot, SS
Does Shaq play point guard? Is Peyton Manning a wide receiver? Is David Beckham a goalie? No, no, and no. So why does Lou insist on batting Soriano leadoff?
Look, a leadoff hitter has to get on base, steal bases, and generally be a pesky obstacle for the pitcher; no Cubs does that better than The Riot.
In 2008, he had a .387 on base percentage (.419 when batting leadoff), stole 22 bases, and had 15 more walks than strikeouts—numbers that overshadow both Soriano and the newly acquired Aaron Miles.
2. Mike Fontenot, 2B
Fontenot should earn a right to a starting spot this year after batting .305 with an OBP of .395 and a slugging percentage of .534 in 2008. He’s a lefty with deceptive pop in his bat (of 74 hits last year, 32 were extra-base hits) that pitchers often underestimate.
Plus, with a proven hitter batting behind him, Fontenot should see more fastballs that he can crush for doubles and homers.
3. Milton Bradley, RF
The Cubs paid Bradley big money to get on base and drive home runs. There is no better position in the lineup to do that than batting third.
With a Cubs offense that’s more explosive than the Rangers offense, expect Bradley to reach 100+ RBIs while maintaining a .400+ OBP. His switch-hitting abilities should give him more versatility at the plate than Derrek Lee.
4. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
I don’t understand Cubs fans who clamored for a Ramirez trade after last season. Who ever heard of wanting to trade a cleanup hitter that hit 27 home runs, led the team with 111 RBIs, and had fewer than 100 strikeouts? He’ll provide nice protection for Bradley, while continuing to be the hitting machine he is.
5. Alfonso Soriano, LF
Stick him here, and then go flip a coin. Heads, he strikes out. Tails, he hits a three-run home run. Not bad odds. It’s certainly better than having him bat leadoff and expecting either a strikeout or a solo home run.
6. Derrek Lee, 1B
Ever since his wrist injury, Lee hasn’t been the same hitter he was during his monster 2005 season. His average, OBP, and power numbers are all down, and he’s much more likely to experience the occasional strikeout.
If he can cut down on his strikeouts, Lou can move him to the second slot, which would allow Soto to bat sixth, and Fontenot to bat seventh—giving the end of the lineup much more power.
7. Geovany Soto, C
Soto had a breakout year last season, hitting 23 home runs, driving in 86 runs, and winning Rookie of the Year Honors. With another year under his belt, he should be much more mature both at the plate and behind it (where he already did a phenomenal job).
I still think he’ll have somewhat of a sophomore slump, but if Lou gives him the rest he needs during the regular season, he should have enough in him to shine in the playoffs.
8. Reed Johnson/ Kosuke Fukudome, CF
You can’t help but love Reed Johnson and his drive to perform in every game. Even without a starting role, he fought in every at bat, and did his part by hitting .333 in 147 at bats against lefties.
Plus, that catch he made against the Nationals last year was sick in every sense of the word. He’ll give the Cubs solid production in the eighth spot. As for Kosuke, let’s just hope he realizes that spinning like a ballerina is not the optimal way to swing a baseball bat.
By and large, this will be a formidable lineup that should put up its fair share of runs.
Then again, it’s always hard to know how the Cubs will do. They always find a way to surprise you—and not in the good way.
I guess I’ll just go pray that this lineup will help the Cubs win a World Series before we run out of oil.