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MLB Chicago Cubs

Uninspiring Cubs News: Theriot Set as Lead-Off Man

Meh.

A 3-letter, guttoral sound that perfectly exemplifies many Cubs fan’s feelings on the 2010 year. Whether such tepid feelings on the future are justified or not remains to be seen.

Piniella just announced his plans that won’t inspire too much optimism for some of the Cubbie faithful. Sweet Lou wants to lead-off, full-time, with 30-year-old shortstop Ryan Theriot.

Theriot’s most notable story this off-season was when he took the Cubs all the way to an arbitration hearing earlier this year, demanding to be paid more than the team planned to offer him. He lost, and settled for the lower contract. Somehow Theriot’s character took no hit in the eyes of his fans, which is odd, but let’s move on.

To quickly get to the point, Theriot is plainly an awful full-time option batting first in the lineup. Of all the starting players on the Cubs in 2009, he was the least patient, taking the fewest pitches per plate appearance. Not an ideal trait for a lead-off man, but other attributes can overcome this.

Too bad Theriot doesn’t have these other attributes. While he can knock the Heck out of left-handed pitching, Ryan has struggled with righties for three straight seasons. Last year saw him post a .279 batting average and a meager .339 on-base percentage against right-handed hurlers. These sub-par numbers are again, coming from a player who hits for almost anemic power with pitiful base-running skill.

You wouldn’t know Ryan had above average speed looking at his stolen base rates. Getting caught 23 times over the past 2 years while only swiping 43 bases is a major problem, and pits him as an actual liability when on the bases.

I just don’t get it. I do not see how Piniella can overlook all of his flaws. I am sure Lou understands and uses lefty/righty splits when making lineup decisions, but it looks like he’s not on the ball with this choice.

Kosuke Fukudome put up a stellar .387 on-base percentage against righties in 2009, and is the only legitimate option in the 1-spot. Kosuke looks to have secured the 2-hole in the lineup, but it doesn’t change the fact that Theriot should be no higher than 8th when he has to face a righty pitcher.

With news like this, I guess all I really can think to say is a resounding “meh”.