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Chicago Cubs: New-Look Batting Order?

Tab BamfordSenior Writer IApril 25, 2009

SURPRISE, AZ - FEBRUARY 27:  Lou Piniella manager of the Chicago Cubs scratches his head before the start of a spring training game against the Texas Rangers at the Surprise Stadium on February 27, 2009 in Surprise, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Did Cubs manager Lou Piniella order common sense for his in-flight meal on the way to St. Louis?

Here is tonight's batting order for the first game of the series at the Cardinals:

1.      Ryan Theriot, SS

2.      Kosuke Fukudome, RF

3.      Alfonso Soriano, LF

4.      Aramis Ramirez, 3B

5.      Derrek Lee, 1B

6.      Mike Fontenot, 2B

7.      Geovany Soto, C

8.      Reed Johnson, CF

9.      Ryan Dempster, P

Not to abuse the airplane theme, but this is quite the departure from what Cubs fans have seen from Piniella over the last two years. In fact, there are some signs of both some sense and desperation percolating into the Cubs dugout.

First of all, I’m thrilled to see Soriano batting anywhere but first. He has five home runs already this season, almost all of which have been wasted solo shots. By moving him down and protecting him with Ramirez, the Cubs are helping to ensure that their best fastball hitter sees more gophers.

Secondly, Piniella finally moved Lee down from third. I wasn’t sure if Lou had a clause in his contract that would void his 401k if Lee hit somewhere other than third, but it looks like the slumping first baseman is going to now be placed behind Ramirez in an effort to get Aramis more run-producing opportunities.

The third item of note is that Johnson is now playing between Fukudome and Soriano. After the debacle that was the outfield defense against Cincinnati, it looks like Micah Hoffpauir will be a first baseman and an emergency corner outfielder only.

The Cubs have three batters (Theriot, Ramirez, and Fukudome) that enter Friday night batting above .340 on the young season. Wouldn’t it make sense to get the guys hitting the ball more at bats, rather than sending Lee (.203), Soto (.100) and Fontenot (.205) up more often?

Glad you've seen the light, skipper.

Whether or not the Cubs figure out a way to score runs with the new order will be telling, as they have struggled to find consistency with their multi-million dollar mental midget Milton Bradley still out with a tweaked groin and in need of an attitude adjustment.

I’m on board with the changes, but let’s see how they work in action.

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