Posted on 28 April 2009 by Lou
Reed Johnson as your leadoff hitter? No offense to Reed Johnson, but Manager Lou Pinella and GM Jim Hendry need to do something. And they need to do something fast!
Here was the Cubs lineup from Monday night’s loss to Dan Haren and the Arizona Diamondbacks – Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukodome, Reed Johnson, Micah Hoffpauir, Geovany Soto, Mike Fontenot, Aaron Miles, Ted Lilly. The Cubs managed 3 hits off of Haren all night long – solo home runs by Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot and a single by PITCHER Ted Lilly. Gimme a break! The Cubs clearly have the shortest infield in MLB with Theriot (5′ 11″), Miles (5′ 8″) and Fontenot (5”8″) roaming around out there.
The Cubs are lucky to be 9-9 right now and still only 4 games out of 1st place, but if they don’t get Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Milton Bradley back soon, they could end up too far behind to catch up very very quickly.
Hendry and the Cubs really need to make a decision on Bradley soon. Throw him on the DL and let him fully heal his bum hamstring. It doesn’t make sense to bring him back in every 3rd or 4th day only to have him aggravate it again. If they had taken the conservative approach with Bradley when he first injured the hamstring, his 15-day DL stint would be close to being over, and he would likely be back in the lineup soon. Now we’re forced to wait and hope that the injury magically heals itself.
Ramirez and Lee are expected to be back soon, so hopefully that happens for 1 of the last 2 games in Arizona. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Posted on 11 April 2009 by Lou
Kosuke Fukodome picked up his 1st 4 hits of the young 2009 MLB season in the Cubs 11-6 drubbing of the Astros on Wednesday night in Houston. Fukodome’s big night helped the Cubs record their 1st series win of the season. Fukodome singled in each of his 1st 2 at-bats in the 1st and 2nd innings and scored a run as part of the 4-run innings. The Cubs had an 8-0 lead after 2 frames. In the 5th inning, Fukodome doubled and scored on an Aramis Ramirez double, and in the 9th inning, Fukodome added a solo home run to deep right center to finish off his productive night. Other players with big nights – Alfonso Soriano – 2 for 5 with 2 runs scored, a walk and a stolen base; Aramis Ramirez – 4 for 6 with 4 RBI’s and 1 run scored; and Mike Fontenot – 2 for 5 with 4 RBI’s and 1 run scored (including a 3-run homer).
The Cubs need more outings like this from Fukodome during the course of the 2009 MLB schedule. As we have been saying along, Fukodome is the “X” factor for the Cubs this year. If he has a solid year and can hit consistently in the #2 hole behind Alfonso Soriano, that will really give the opposing teams’ tough looks all year long. Fukodome needs to regain some patience at the plate and not try to do too much. With Lee, Bradley and Ramirez coming up behind Soriano and Fukodome, pitchers will have a tough time navigating through those 1st 5 batters when Fukodome is on. If Fukodome struggles at the plate as he did during the 2nd half of 2008, the Cubs lineup becomes a little more mundane, and opposing teams and managers will be able to counteract the predominantly right-handed hitting lineup. We’ll keep a close eye on Fukodome early on here in the season.
Posted on 09 April 2009 by Lou
Not good news for the reigning NL Rookie of the Year – Geovany Soto. Soto experienced some shoulder soreness in the Cubs 3-2 loss to the Astros on Tuesday night. Soto left the game in the 6th inning after he aggravated the shoulder injury on a throw to 2nd base. Soto had this to say about the injury: “I kind of over-exposed my shoulder a little bit. There was a little discomfort in my shoulder. I felt some weakness in it, and I felt I didn’t have a shot if somebody else tried to steal. I need to keep up my exercises, and we’ll see how it is in a couple of days.”
Back-up catcher Koyie Hill will make the start for the Cubs on Wednesday’s finale against the Astros in Houston. Hill will catch Ted Lilly in his 1st start of the season. Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot would be able available to catch in the event of an emergency situation with Hill.
Posted on 16 March 2009 by Lou
Mike Fontenot is inching closer and closer to the starting 2nd base job. In 11 spring games, Fontenot has batted .371 with 2 home runs and 8 RBI’s. With the newly acquired Aaron Miles still dealing with throwing issues with his right shoulder, Fontenot has really made a strong case for winning the job outright.
Manager Lou Pinella originally envisioned Miles and Fontenot getting about 350-400 at-bats each, with starting shortstop Ryan Theriot getting around 500 at-bats. Theriot amassed a career-high 580 at-bats in 2008, and Pinella felt like Theriot struggled a little bit down the stretch despite the fact that he still hit .307 on the year. Pinella envisions Miles filling in for Theriot more often to limit his total at-bats, while giving Fontenot more playing time at 2nd base and even 3rd base every once in a while to spell Aramis Ramirez.
Pinella also likes Fontenot’s pop in the middle of the lineup. “For a little guy, he drives the ball well.” Fontenot hit 9 home runs in 119 games last year and has been driving the ball this spring training as well. Pinella sees Fontenot batting in the 6-hole a lot, with Kosuke Fukodome batting 2nd and Milton Bradley batting clean-up against right-handed pitchers. Will this revamped lineup work – we’ll have to wait and see.
Fontenot is a solid player with a great work ethic. He always seems to come up big when the game is on the line, so let’s hope he can continue to be productive on a more regular basis in 2009.
Posted on 04 March 2009 by Lou
Mike Fontenot is looking forward to a prominent role in the Cubs infield for the upcoming 2009 MLB season. Fontenot and Aaron Miles will likely split time as the starting 2nd baseman in the upcoming 2009 season. Manager Lou Pinella has indicated that he will make the decision depending on the match-up. Fontenot is also projected to be the primary back-up to Aramis Ramirez at 3rd base, so he is playing most of his spring innings there to get used to the different reaction time of fielding ground balls so close to the plate. So far so good for Fontenot in the early spring – plus he has a great attitude about moving around in the infield – - “I feel comfortable now. When I went over there, it was just, whatever. Being in the big leagues the last couple of years, I don’t feel I’m nervous to go anywhere on the field. Now, I just go out there and play.”
Mike Fontenot played in 119 games for the Chicago Cubs in 2008, mostly at 2nd base. With the departure of Mark DeRosa who could play all 4 infield positions and 2 outfield positions, Fontenot becomes the man the Cubs look to when they need a back-up option at 3rd base for Aramis Ramirez or shortstop for Ryan Theriot. Fontenot hit .305 for the Cubs in 2008 with a .395 on-base percentage. Fontenot scored 42 runs and had 9 home runs and 40 RBI’s in only 243 at-bats. He is a patient hitter who can work the count – he had 34 walks against 51 strikeouts in 2008.
Fontenot is a true team player. He will split time with newly acquired infielder Aaron Miles at 2nd base on a starting base, and also give Ryan Theriot and Aramis Ramirez the occasional day off during the long MLB season. Fontenot is a huge asset for the Cubs.
Posted on 21 February 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs could face a lack of depth in the infield during Spring Training. You starters are Derrek Lee at 1st base; Aaron Miles/Mike Fontenot at 2nd base; Ryan Theriot at shortstop; and Aramis Ramirez at 3rd base. The problem lies in the fact that Miles is expected to back up Theriot at shortstop, while Fontenot is expected to back up Ramirez at 3rd base. If anything happens to the 5 “infield starters”, the Cubs could be in trouble.
Ideally, Cubs Manager would like to see Miles and Fontenot get at least 400 at-bats apiece, which should allow Theriot some ample days off during the course of the long season at shortstop. Adding another infielder who could help back up Ramirez at 3rd base would be huge for the Cubs. One name thrown around is former Cubs player – Nomar Garciaparra. Nomar can play both 1st base and 3rd base and playing more of a reserve role could help him stay healthy during the course of the long MLB season.
Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Pinella have not said that any pick up is imminent, but Cubs scouts will keep their eyes and ears open once spring training games start in both Arizona and Florida in the next few weeks. Hendry made a nice pick up in Reed Johnson last spring before the season started, so maybe he will be able to work some magic again right before the start of the season. We’ll keep you posted with the lasted from Mesa here at MyCubsToday!
Posted on 20 February 2009 by Lou
Wow – can it really be true? Can we really believe Cubs Manager Lou Pinella at his word? We know it’s still early in spring training, but Pinella actually said that he wouldn’t throw out the possibility that Alfonso Soriano could hit somewhere else in the lineup other than the leadoff spot. Stop the presses, stop the presses!!!
Pinella was asked about the 3, 4 and 5 spots in his lineup, and although he was talking about Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and newly acquired outfielder Milton Bradley, Pinella also indicated that Alfonso Soriano could find himself in the mix for one of those spots. Pinella has also emphasized the fact that he wants to give Lee and Ramirez more days off during the course of the season, so who’s to say that Soriano couldn’t fill one of their spots on those off days or even more often.
Although Soriano doesn’t have the on-base percentage (.344 in 2008) or stolen base (19 in each of 2007 and 2008) numbers that you want out of your leadoff hitter, it’s hard to argue with his success for the Cubs in that spot in the lineup. During the 2008 MLB season, Soriano hit .287 in 105 games as the leadoff hitter and the Cubs won 69 of those games – a .657 winning percentage. In his other 4 games in 2008, Soriano hit 2nd in the lineup twice and 3rd and 7th in the lineup one time each. For the 2009 MLB season, other options for Pinella include Ryan Theriot, Aaron Miles, Reed Johnson, Mike Fontenot and Kosuke Fukodome (only if he shows can be more patient than he was at the end of the 2008 MLB season).
My prediction is that Soriano will remain in the leadoff spot once we make it all the way through spring training. One intriguing option, at least for me, is to put Ryan Theriot in the leadoff spot. Theriot held his own during the 2008 MLB season and continues to build into an all-around dependable player. In 148 games in 2007, Theriot hit .266 with a .326 on-base percentage. In 149 games in 2008, Theriot made a dramatic improvement on both numbers with a .307 batting average and a .387 on-base percentage. With Theriot in the top spot, I would move Derrek Lee up to the 2-hole (since his power numbers have continued to decline – 22 home runs and 82 RBI’s in 2007; 20 home runs and 90 RBI’s in 2008), insert Alfonso Soriano into the 3 spot and follow them up with Ramirez, Bradley and Soto. In the 7th and 8th spots you can work with Fukodome and Johnson in center field, and Fontenot and Miles at 2nd base, depending on the match-ups. Will Sweet Lou take my free advice? I doubt it, but it would sure be nice to see Soriano in another spot in the lineup – at least for a few games in spring training…