Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Pena, Darwin Barney, offense and the "W" flags are among the topics in this week's Inbox. E-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and please include your full name and hometown.
What are your thoughts on moving Alfonso Soriano up in the batting order? I understand we will likely see power from Carlos Pena and Aramis Ramirez as the season progresses, but Soriano's among the league leaders with 11 dingers and it just seems silly to bury him in the bottom of the order. -- Chad B., Garrett, Ind.
Soriano strikes out a lot, which is one of the reasons he was moved out of the leadoff spot. Manager Mike Quade has had Soriano bat as high as fifth twice this year, but he also is trying to keep a left-right mix if possible, which is why Pena usually follows Ramirez. The lineup is still evolving. In Derrek Lee's first year with the Cubs in 2004, he began the season batting sixth.
I know it's early, but is there any chance Pena becomes the backup first baseman? With Jeff Baker so hot, why not make him the starting first baseman? -- Brandon G., Verona, Wis.
Quade is trying to get Baker in the lineup, because he's swinging the hot bat. It's a little early to give up on Pena. He's had good at-bats and has been foiled by the inclement conditions at home. He did hit three home runs in four games, and was 6-for-16 in his last five games.
Why did Blake DeWitt get put on the All-Star ballot at second base instead of Darwin Barney? I don't think DeWitt has even started a game at second this year. -- Ryan P., Normal, Ill.
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Teams submitted their lists of All-Star candidates before the regular season began, and at the time, DeWitt was projected as the Cubs' starting second baseman, not Barney. If you want to vote for Barney, you can write-in his name at the bottom of the online ballot on Cubs.com. And, DeWitt has started two games at second.
With Tyler Colvin's struggles continuing, are the Cubs considering sending him to Triple-A Iowa? And, if they are, who are they thinking about bringing up as a replacement? -- Mike M., Germantown, Md.
Quade said trying to get Colvin at-bats is the toughest part of his job right now, and that's because the other three outfielders -- Soriano, Marlon Byrd and Kosuke Fukudome -- are playing well. Colvin is batting .121. Sending Colvin to Triple-A Iowa has been discussed, but whoever would be called up would have the same role as a backup and be used primarily as a pinch-hitter. Among the options at Iowa are Lou Montanez, who was batting .367 with four homers and 30 RBIs in 29 games, and Tony Campana, who was hitting .337 with eight RBIs in 23 games. Neither is on the Cubs' 40-man roster.
How many games have the Cubs won when they score in the first? I feel like it's been happening a lot this year and some first-inning runs would lead to a lot more wins than we have now. -- Zack H., Burbank, Ill.
Actually, the Cubs are 3-7 when they score in the first inning. They are 9-7 when they score first, and 12-6 when they score four or more runs. When they outhit their opponent, the Cubs are 11-6. Getting some more power would help. They're 6-1 when they hit at least two home runs in a game. The problem is not what inning they get the runs but that they get some runs. The Cubs rank second in the National League with a .268 team batting average, but they're tied for 12th in runs and tied for 13th in RBIs. By the way, the Cardinals, who come to town Tuesday for a three-game series, rank first in the NL in batting average, runs and RBIs.
Your comment about the "W" flags that are raised after each Cubs victory piqued my interest. I was surprised to learn that a new flag is raised each time. What happens to the "used" flags? -- Eric H., Manila, Philippines
You're not alone in terms of interest, considering the number of e-mails I received. The Cubs do raise a new flag for every win. Some of the "W" flags go to charity events, some are available at the Cubs Convention, and some are kept by the team. They are not for sale or auctioned off.