The Chicago Cubs got even younger on Sunday, August 5, when the team traded veteran Jeff Baker and promoted prospects Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters to the Major Leagues. However, Chicago lost again on Sunday, marking a fifth consecutive loss since the non-waiver trade deadline on July 31. While the current lineup will be learning together and will suffer defeats along the way, as a Cubs fan, I believe manager Dale Sveum should make some minor adjustments.
Jackson's batting position
In Sunday's game, Jackson was immediately placed in the Cubs' starting lineup, playing center field and batting second. If Sveum is set on having David DeJesus hit first in the order, I do not believe the second spot is best for Jackson and the team.
With Jackson hitting second, Starlin Castro was moved to the fifth spot behind Alfonso Soriano. I don't think Castro's bat can be as effective if he is hitting fifth. I would prefer to see him have a chance to get on base in front of Anthony Rizzo and Soriano.
This also created a problem with the entire order, since the Cubs had three left-handed hitters at the top (DeJesus, Jackson and Rizzo) followed by three right-handed swingers (Soriano, Castro and Wellington Castillo). It made matchups easy for the Dodgers' bullpen later in the game.
One solution here would be to move Castro up to the third spot. DeJesus and Jackson hitting left-handed would be followed by Castro from the right side. Rizzo and Soriano would then shift the order again from left to right in the fourth and fifth spots respectively. Opposing managers would have a harder time matching up relief pitchers this way.
However, one of the main problems with Jackson hitting second is his high strike out rate. At AAA-Iowa this season, Jackson struck out 158 times in 407 at-bats. I'd prefer to see someone who makes a little more contact hitting between DeJesus and Rizzo at this point.
The best spot for Jackson right now might be seventh, with Darwin Barney hitting behind him. Eventually Jackson will be a top-of-the-order player, but he may need some time to get there.
Vitters needs to play
While Jackson got two hits and a walk in his first game, Vitters came off the bench for a pinch hit opportunity. It was his first day up, and I'm sure Sveum has other plans for him, but Vitters definitely needs to be playing regularly to close out this season. After five years in the Cubs' system, he finally has a chance to face Major League pitching every day and show what he is capable of doing.
Luis Valbuena did a fine job of filling in when the Cubs needed someone at third base, but his .195 batting average should not be keeping him on the field every day. In fact, it does not even make sense to use the two players in a right-left platoon. Vitters needs to be getting most of the at-bats so the team can properly evaluate him at the top level.
It will be interesting to see if Sveum addresses these situations and if the Cubs can finally break this losing streak when facing the San Diego Padres beginning on Monday, August 6.
Mike Patton is a sports fan who grew up in New Orleans cheering for the New Orleans Saints, Chicago Cubs, and LSU Tigers. As a kid in 1987, he made his first trip to Wrigley Field and also slept outside of the Louisiana Superdome to purchase playoff tickets for the Saints' first postseason appearance. Follow Mike on twitter @MikePattonGBS.