If you are only reading the headline and haven’t actually clicked to read the rest of the article, you may have missed my not-so-subtle attempt at clickbait. See, I know all about you guys. You read our posts on Facebook and respond to tweets here and there. However, when we post things of substance like these blog posts and the Dreamcast episodes, you’re far less likely to read in depth and leave comments. But there are a few of you who react to the headline and not the substance within, which is prevalent in today’s social media-centric society, where a reaction is but a “click send” away. Take this for example:
— ClickHole (@ClickHole) June 25, 2017
The folks at the Onion are very good at generating content, and are not shy about making quirky posts like these. Our friend at the Sun-Times, Mr. Gordon Wittenmyer, knows all about this when he makes the headlines about the Chicago Cubs’ “$155 million man” or former Cubs legend D.J. LeMahieu. We probably just need more practice with search engine optimization and generating interesting headlines, but now I digress.
The reason for today’s post is because of Cubs manager Joe Maddon‘s latest lineup:
Here's how we'll open our four-game set in D.C.
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 26, 2017
Now, we know that sometimes Crazy Uncle Joe has bad opinions, and there are times when his managerial decisions fly in the face of logic, or just flat out don’t work. First, it was the craziness of batting Kyle Schwarber leadoff. Then, it was Anthony Rizzo. Monday, it was a major WTF moment to see the greatest leadoff hitter of all time bumped down to batting second in favor of Willson Contreras. But the Cubs’ Twitter graphic is basically like a headline, and you have to look a bit deeper into the decision, just as the previous decisions with Schwarber and Rizzo had their rationales. For example, facing off against Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez, who is left-handed:
Willson Contreras has a .355 OBP this season (and for his career) against LHPs & .294 vs RHPs (.331 career)
— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) June 26, 2017
And what, pray tell, about the fact that they’re bumping down the greatest leadoff hitter of all time?
#Cubs Contreras leading off because Rizzo's numbers vs Gonzalez aren't too good
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 26, 2017
That’s actually true, because in 20 at-bats, Rizzo is only hitting .100 off Gonzalez, so maybe not the best idea to lead him off. But then again, he has a strong approach at the plate, so you don’t want him to bat too far down the lineup either. And it does help to have a couple of switch hitters in the mix, with Jeimer Candelario up and Ian Happ suddenly looking better at the plate after a prolonged slump. The Cubs’ struggles are far greater than simply who the leadoff hitter is, but I think you have to give the manager credit for trying new things because the old ideas aren’t working so well.
It bears repeating that the Cubs front office and coaching staff have far more information available to them to make baseball decisions, even in this modern age where statistics and analysis are at our fingertips via sites like Baseball-Reference or FanGraphs. The folks who run the Cubs are far less knee-jerk than we are, and after the past few years, I feel like they deserve a bit of leeway in their decision-making, especially when so many of them have turned out right. It also bears repeating that the Cubs are very young:
Average age of tonight's #Cubs starting lineup: 24 (Rizzo is oldest at 27)
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) June 26, 2017
…and haven’t been able to stay as healthy as they did last season when cool things happened. If any slumps and adjustments need to happen, you would prefer that they happened the year after our moron of a manager helped the Cubs to a World Series while keeping just about everybody healthy and rested throughout the entire run.
I have no idea how this lineup will do. Maybe they’ll bat around in the first inning. Maybe they’ll get no-hit again. Baseball is extremely unpredictable, but if we are to take most of the past two seasons as reference, then the process is going to make everything turn out okay. We know these guys are good, and it helps that they have the right personality at the helm to remind them that they are good and they just need to work on a few things to get back to championship level. At least they have another 87 games to figure it out.
So perhaps we should amend the headline a bit, now that you’ve read this far…”Joe Maddon is a moron, but then again, maybe he’s not.” Because, after all, he did manage the Cubs to a World Series win, and that’s kind of hard to do.