Sunday, November 26, 2006

Can Pinella Change A Culture?

If Hendry didn't interfere with Baker's lineup, it would be hard to imagine him advising Pinella on who to play.

With that said, will Pinella put the best player in the best position to succeed?

There are a lot of preconceived ideas for recently acquired players as to how they will fit into the mix, so let's examine them.

DeRosa has played 6 full seasons and is coming off a career year, where he posted a
296BA 357OBP 102K 44BB 4SB 13HR in 520AB. However his career numbers are as follows,
273BA 331OBP 286K 125BB 11SB 38HR in 1643AB.

Let's assume when the Cubs brake camp in Mesa, AZ to start the 2007 campaign that DeRosa numbers average somewhere in between his career year and his career numbers.

Now DeRosa was acquired reportedly, to be the everyday second baseman. If he is to be challenged at all, which I would hope Pinella would want, The Riot seems to be the most likely candidate.

The Riot's 2006 season was split between AAA Iowa and the Cubs. In Iowa he posted a
304BA 367OBP 34K 27BB 14SB 0HR in 280AB. With Cubs he actually improved and posted a
328BA 412OBP 18K 17BB 13SB 3HR in 134AB.

If The Riot outperforms DeRosa in spring training, what should Pinella do? Will Pinella realize that DeRosa's versatility makes him more valuable coming off the bench, or will he succumb to the pressure of not showing up his GM and start DeRosa instead of The Riot, deserving or not.

I realize this is a hypothetical situation, but there is at least a 50/50 chance that it could happen. It's not like DeRosa has Derek Jeter credentials, where a proven track record of success would earn him the right to be given some slack.

When you consider the replacement of Pierre in CF with Soriano, you'd be hard pressed to find many similarities except for their speed. But on closer examination, if Soriano were to fill Pierre's leadoff role, you may not be making the most of Soriano's most valuable asset, run production. When you look at the other most recent 40/40 man, Barry Bonds, do you think it was a mistake not to hit him in the leadoff spot because he had 40 stolen bases?

The role as a run producer was out of the question for Pierre, so his speed made a case for his role at the top of the order. But as a leadoff man, his poor OBP and high percentage of caught stealing, negated much of his effectiveness.

With Soriano, you have many of the same negatives as Pierre from the leadoff spot. However, due to Soriano's prodigious power, his value to the team, emphasis value to the team, hitting in a RBI spot in the order is enhanced. Patterson and to a lesser extent Pierre certainly didn't fill the leadoff role as effectively as hoped. The effective leadoff man's most important asset is to get on base at as high a rate as possible. Speed is a plus and so is power, but they both follow a distant second and third in determining the overall effectiveness of the leadoff man.

If Pinella is the baseball man we all hope he is, he will have to insist that his decisions as to who plays what position and where they bat in the order, is a function of their performance and what's best for the team to succeed.

That would be most certainly be a welcome change in culture.

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