Before today's Cubs-White Sox game at Wrigley Field, Cubs manager Lou Piniella flipped out at the media. Well, he was mainly directing his comments towards Steve Stone, who was not present, but recently criticized Piniella in regards to the manager's use of rookie outfielder Tyler Colvin.

Just watch Sweet Lou go absolutely nuts:




I hope Lou keeps showing some fire like this. I'm ready for an old-fashioned base toss and dirt kick.

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Cubs infielder Jeff Baker is one of the most interesting players in the majors to me. Surely you've never heard anybody else say that.

Why is he? Well, it's just unbelievable to me how he's absolutely sensational against left-handed pitching, and absolutely abysmal against left-handed pitching. If it were reversed and we're talking about a left-handed batter, that would make complete sense to me. However, as a right-handed hitter, you've been seeing mostly right-handed pitching your entire life, so it shouldn't be a major difference at this point.

Yes, I realize a right-handed batter is going to see the ball better out of a left-handed pitcher's hand, and they are more likely to hit a breaking ball moving towards them rather than away from them like a right-handed pitcher's slider would. But his splits are just beyond weird.

Let's take look at Baker's splits against left-handed and right-handed pitching:


Career vs. right-handed pitching

586 PA, .250 AVG, 11 HR, 59 RBI, 40 BB, 159 K, .304 OBP, .391 SLG, .695 OPS.


Career vs. left-handed pitching

343 PA, .295 AVG, 17 HR, 59 RBI, 29 BB, 64 K, .353 OBP, .555 SLG, .908 OPS


2010 vs. right-handed pitching

31 PA, .034 AVG, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 BB, 13 K, .097 OBP, .034 SLG, .131 OPS


2010 vs. left-handed pitching

57 PA, .346 AVG, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 4 BB, 6 K, .386 OBP, .615 SLG, 1.001 OPS


So what does that all say? Well for one, it shows how much Baker's former manager, Clint Hurdle, used him incorrectly in Colorado. But the main thing to take away from those numbers is that Jeff Baker needs to stay far away from the lineup against right-handers, and should be starting every game against left-handers. Furthermore, he should be batting in the 2-5 spots in the lineup against left-handers.

Just how good is Baker against southpaws? Well his career .555 slugging percentage against them would've been the 7th best slugging percentage in the National League in 2009 .His .908 OPS(on-base+ slugging percentage) would've been the 12th best OPS in the National League.

Basically Jeff Baker is an All-Star against left-handers, and Aaron Miles against right-handers. Use him correctly, Lou.

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The Cubs played about the worst fundamental game imaginable today in Milwaukee, in a 5-4 loss. If they didn't execute almost everything incorrectly, they would've won. That's how bad it was. They couldn't execute a rundown, they couldn't catch routine flyballs, they couldn't lay down bunts, they couldn't make routine throws in the infield... I'll just depress myself if I continue.

But we at least got something very interesting out of the game. Well, in the stands anyway. In the top of the tenth inning, the WGN camera crew found a gem of a haircut from a boy in the stands at Miller Park:


I can't decide how I feel about this still, but I at least salute the boy for having the cojones to sport this hairdo.

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I just wrote about the lineups needed a different/better look than what Lou Piniella's been putting out there. Then I see this lineup for tonight in Houston, against Roy Oswalt and his 2.78 ERA:

1. Ryan Theriot, 2B
2. Tyler Colvin, RF
3. Derrek Lee, 1B
4. Marlon Byrd, CF
5. Aramis Ramirez, 3B
6. Alfonso Soriano, LF
7. Starlin Castro, SS
8. Koyie Hill, C
9. Ryan Dempster, P

Theriot batting leadoff? Really? The guy hasn't walked since May 1st, has just 25 hits in 110 at bats since May 1st, and you want him batting first, Lou? What a joke. I don't care if Theriot goes 5-5 tonight, he has no business being anywhere near the top of the lineup right now. None.

At least Tyler Colvin finally found his way into the lineup.

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It's time for Lou Piniella to think up some new lineups.

Last night, the Cubs lost 3-1 to right-hander Felipe Paulino and the Astros in Houston. The results were quite predictable considering the lineup Cubs manager Lou Piniella tossed out there.

Let's take a close look at the lineup, excluding the pitcher's spot.(Stats are from after yesterday's game, as I don't feel like taking the time look up what they were going into the game):

1. Marlon Byrd, CF- .302 AVG, .341 OBP, .497 SLG.

Byrd actually went two for four, with two doubles in this game. However, he should be one of the last guys batting first in a lineup, especially against right-handers, due to his lack of patience.

The 12 pitches Byrd saw last night were the fewest amount of pitches seen by a position player in last night's lineup. Your leadoff hitter is ideally the guy seeing the most pitches.

Byrd seeing just 12 pitches in four at bats is hardly a surprise though, as he averages just 3.49 pitches per plate appearance. That's the worst of statistically qualified players on the Cubs, and near the bottom of the National League in that category. And he has just seven walks in 214 plate appearances.

He has been able to hit for average all year though(.302 batting average leads the team), and his .497 slugging percentage is second on the team, and 17th in the National League. He needs to be in a run-producing spot.

Oh, and Byrd's bad against right-handers, which Paulino is. He's batting .261 with just a .307 on-base percentage against righties.

So keep Byrd in the 4-6 spots of the order, and at least nowhere near the top of the order when facing right-handers.

2. Ryan Theriot, 2B- .280 AVG, .308 OBP, .308 SLG.

Theriot shouldn't even be in the lineup right now. If he is, it shouldn't be higher than eighth, at least until he stops swinging at everything and takes some walks. Incredibly, Theriot has not walked since May 1st. He's had 106 at bats since then.

It's absolutely inexcusable for Theriot to not be patient, especially when his hits are almost always just singles. He has only five extra-base hits on the year, and just one since late April. Few players in baseball should be looking to draw walks over him. His job's been to find any sort of way to get on base in front of the middle-of-the-order bats.

It's gotten to the point where Theriot needs to be benched for awhile, or at the very least placed at the back of the lineup. He's not listening to the coaching staff, and he doesn't have a successful enough history to just be left in the leadoff or second spot in the order with the hope he will turn things around, whereas doing so with Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez has at least been understandable due to their great track records.

3. Derrek Lee, 1B- .234 AVG, .342 OBP, .365 SLG.

Through May of 2009, Lee was hitting just .248 with five home runs and a .736 OPS. He'd finish the season with MVP-like numbers: .306 average, 35 home runs, 115 RBI, and a .972 OPS.

His numbers right now are pretty similar to what they were at this time last year, so it's really difficult to figure out what to do with the veteran first baseman. In every full season since 2000, Lee's finished with at least a .270 batting average, 20 homers, 70 RBI, and an .820 OPS. So at the end of the year, at least very good numbers have always been there for Lee. However, now that he's 34 and rapid decline at such an age happens frequently, there's reason to be concerned that this could be a prolonged struggle at the plate.

But when your #3 hitter has a .234 average and a .365 slugging percentage in June, something better change fast. A move to the fifth or sixth spot in the order for a bit might be for the best. If he starts hitting like the Derrek Lee we're used to, you can then move him back to the third slot in the order.

Of course, the best solution would probably just be to trade Lee(to the Angels perhaps) for a couple of quality prospects.

4. Aramis Ramirez- .158 AVG, .222 OBP, .263 SLG.


.158 batting average- Worst in the National League by 14 points.
.222 on-base percentage- Worst in the National League by 28 points.
.263 slugging percentage- Second worst in the National League
.485 on-base+ slugging percentage- Worst in the National League by 40 points.

And he's batting clean-up. Do I really need to say anything else?

5. Kosuke Fukudome, RF-.285 AVG, .383 OBP, .483 SLG.

Fukudome needs to be in batting first or second, while Byrd should be here. Could we just swap those two, please?

Since May 1st, Fukudome has one homer and seven extra-base hits. However, he's still been drawing a fair share of walks as he always does. He's not a run-producer, but a table-setter. This is Piniella being more concerned about the left-handed and right-handed "balance" in the middle of the order, rather than just putting hitters where they belong like he should be.

6. Alfonso Soriano, LF- .298 AVG, .363 OBP, .579 SLG.

Soriano is second in the National League in slugging percentage, and fifth in OPS. Yet he's still batting two slots behind the statistically-worst hitter in the league.

I know Lou's trying to keep Soriano in his "comfort" zone, but come on already. Soriano needs to be batting in the 3-5 spots, at least until Lee and Ramirez greatly improve.

7. Geovany Soto, C- .254 AVG, .401 OBP, .405 SLG.

Soto's had a major drop-off since April. He had just 14 hits in 70 May at bats, for an average of .200. He did still draw 14 walks though, and has 31 on the season. His .197 walks per plate appearance percentage would be second in the National League, if he statistically qualified.

Koyie Hill's certainly not going to bring any better offensive production, so this is one spot I won't fault Lou. But Soto's just another Cubs bat that's currently disappointing. The walks are nice, but he needs to start getting hits like he did in April. The walks at the bottom of the lineup aren't nearly as useful as the walks near the top of the lineup.

8. Starlin Castro, SS- .301 AVG, .350 OBP, .398 SLG.

The 20-year-old has 37 at bats in each the second and eighth spots of the lineup. In the second spot, he has a .243 batting average and .587 OPS, compared to a .351 average and .956 OPS in the eighth. That's a very small sample size though, and such a trend wouldn't continue with pitchers surely working out Castro more in the future in the eighth spot with the opposing pitcher to follow batting.

Castro should've been where Theriot was batting, and Theriot should've been where Castro was batting(well, he should've been on the bench). Again, Castro's just 20, but he's shown to be quite a polished hitter, and handled the pressure of being in the big leagues quite well. I think he'd fit in well batting second, and his ability to make contact consistently and go to right field also adds a fine hit and run option there. That's something Theriot used to do well. In the eighth spot of the lineup, you won't be able to do this much, because you can't trust the pitcher to throw much in the zone with the ninth spot following.

Piniella's basically said already that Castro will be there eventually, so why not now?


So this lineup featured two of the least patient hitters in the league in Ryan Theriot and Marlon Byrd, batting first and second in the lineup. It was followed by a struggling Derrek Lee, and by far the worst hitter in the league right now, Aramis Ramirez. How is this giving you much of a chance to win?

I know Piniella doesn't have many greater options to work with, but there's far better ways to handle this. There's some obvious ways to just sort that lineup differently that give you a better chance to win. Additionally, there's a couple players that should be playing more.

How about giving Tyler Colvin some more playing time? He at least should find his way in the lineup against right-handers everyday. He's batting .317, with five home runs, and a 1.036 OPS in 60 at bats against right-handers. Compare Colvin's numbers against right-handers to Marlon Byrd, who Colvin should frequently be replacing in center field: .261 average, six home runs, and a .758 OPS in 142 at bats.

How about giving Mike Fontenot more playing time at second base against right-handers than Ryan Theriot? I've already gone much into how bad Theriot's been of late. Fontenot's batting .308 with an .817 OPS against them.

These are simple moves that the percentages say should benefit the offense. There's no guarantee it will, but with how bad things have gone, it's not like how Piniella's been handling the lineup has worked. It's time to really shake some things up, both in how the lineup is sorted, and who is actually in it.

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