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Joe Mather Best Option To Bat 3rd?

By bullpenbrian at 06.01.2012 2 comments.

Dale Sveum wants more pop from his three-hole hitter.

He wasn’t getting it from Starlin Castro (2 HR in 179 at-bats), which is why Sveum moved Castro to second in the order in favor of Joe Mather.

Mather’s numbers thus far are underwhelming. He’s hit third during the last six games going 5-for-23 (.217), 1 R, 1 BB, 0 HR & 0 RBI.

On the bright side, two of his five hits went for extra bases, he’s struck out just twice and is seeing right at four pitches per plate appearances–advantageous for Castro to steal bases.

Mather still doesn’t compare well against Castro batting third: .313, 11 XBH & 25 RBI, but there’s no arguing Starlin’s individual success gradually stopped trickling through the rest of the lineup–the Cubs simply quit scoring behind him.

Sveum intends to juice-up the lineup, and Mather’s overall numbers suggest he’s the most capable option available (while serving as the latest example of the Cubs lack of talent).

Joe ranks third on the team in both SLG & OPS percentage (a measure of power), trailing only Steve Clevenger & Bryan LaHair. He’s batting .385 in Late/Close situations and right at .300 with runners on base and two outs.

That’s exactly the production Sveum is hoping for, but Mather has yet to deliver in the three-spot.

Granted Mather is regularly playing different positions game-to-game, which can’t be easy, but now might be his only chance to earn an everyday role until the callup of Anthony Rizzo.

If not Mather batting third, who?

I don’t fault Sveum for trying Mather’s hand as the No.3 guy in the lineup.

The skipper has but few options, Mather’s numbers justify the move and you can never truly tell if any player’s cut out for a role without giving him the opportunity to show otherwise.

Castro and Soriano, who’s on a tear offensively, provide the best protection in the order. But you can’t blame Joe entirely if the three-hole experiment doesn’t work out in his favor.

By all accounts Mather’s skill set is not your ideal three-hole hitter, he’s playing multiply positions and his window of opportunity is fairly short.

If Mather doesn’t cut it Sveum can always move Soriano up one spot, and I also like the idea of giving Steve Clevenger a chance to bat third.

The rookie catcher is 13-for-26 (.500) with six doubles in 11 games.

Whether it’s Mather, Clevenger or someone else batting third, at (18-32) what does Sveum have to lose?

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2 Comments

  1. Spoda17 says:

    Hi Brian, I really think that Campana needs to be in the lineup every day. My lineup would be DeJesus, Castro, Clevenger, LaHair, Soriano, Stewart, Capana, Barney, Pitcher…

    I’m trying hard not to be a Campana dork, or overhype his true abilities, but the fact is he is hitting productively, steals at will, and does bring excitement to the game and the team. Sveum used the excuse we weren’t scoring with Campana the lineup… Well, technically you could use that excuse to change the entire 8 men in the lineup. I like Mather, but he has proven he is better off the bench, not an everyday player.

    I know I have said this a million times (well, a lot) before, but if I have one complaint its with how Svuem manages the lineup. I like every other aspect, and I know he is trying to learn his players; I get it… I like the approach, the pitching, the effort, and all the other fuddy-duddy stuff… but his lineup and substitution (and bunting) decisions leave me scratching my head a lot…

    • bullpenbrian says:

      Good comment, Spoda.

      I fell ya, man. Our feelings are flipped on Campana & Mather…

      What we know for sure is neither Mather or Tony is an everyday player: which is why it’s hard for me to be too critical of Sveum’s lineup. He just doesn’t have the talent he needs to win consistently. Although, we’ll agree some of his bunting decisions and flip-flopping of the lineup are at times confusing.

      I still prefer Campana coming off the bench like he did on Wednesday–quickly stealing two bases (one on a pitch-out, no less) and energizing the lineup in Late/Close situations.

      What Campana hasn’t done well is give Sveum professional at-bats or hit for extra bases. Since his blazing hot start to the season, Campana’s average has plummeted nearly 70-points, along with his OBP.

      I can’t say the Cubs would be any worse scoring runs with Campy in the everyday lineup, but it’s still too early to pull the plug on Mather, who for the time being is more likely to give Sveum what he’s looking for–more power.

      If, however, Sveum would go in favor of Campana as an everyday guy I’d be quite interested to see how the ‘Campana Dorks’ (I like that!) would respond to Tony’s increasing ineptitude as a big-league hitter!

      I’m not trying to hate on the kid, but I just don’t see it. He’s cute, he’s fast, he can be an exciting player…but that shouldn’t overshadow his inabilities as a hitter.

      Ian Stewart has been my biggest disappointment. To have virtually zero production from the 3B position is killer, not to mention, his left-handed bat.

      It’s a tough spot for Sveum no matter how you shape it, and quite honestly, whichever way he goes, it’s probably the wrong way.

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