Red Sox Forced To Shuffle Outfield

With five outfielders already on the disabled list, the Red Sox were already spread thin in a position once thought to be a strength. Then Cody Ross factured a bone in his left foot in Monday’s game. Adding insult to injury is the promotion of Scott Podsednik just a couple of hours before game time, a move which portends a trip to the 7-Day DL for Ryan Sweeney (concussion).

As a result, the Red Sox have two options: play bad outfielders like Podsednik and Che-Hsuan Lin and wait for the cavalry to return, or get creative. Bolstered by the return of Kevin Youkilis, Bobby Valentine has chosen the latter with his lineup for tonight’s game. Youkilis will man first base, shifting Adrian Gonzalez to right field for his first outfield action in a non-interleague game.

The Red Sox have made a choice of offense over defense, but given the options available, it’s difficult to dispute. The choice is either Che-Hsuan Lin in right field and Adrian Gonzalez at first or Gonzalez in right field and Kevin Youkilis at first. Lin hasn’t posted a professional wRC+ above 112 in full-season ball and is projected for just a .289 wOBA. Youkilis, despite his struggles, has done so in every season of his major league career save one (2006) and is projected for a .364 wOBA. For Lin to be worth playing, he’d need to save roughly 40 more runs in the outfield than Gonzalez per 150 games, or the difference between Adam Dunn and an average major league outfielder.

Although it’s not inconceivable for the gap between Gonzalez and Lin to be that large, the Red Sox don’t need to keep Gonzalez in the outfield the entire game. Should they build a lead late in the game, the defensive replacement is available. With proper management, Boston’s mix-and-match approach to solving their outfield woes should be adequate until Sweeney and others can make their return.



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Chutley
Member
Chutley

Given the play of Will Middlebrooks is asking too much of him to give RF or LF a shot with Youk at 3B and Gonzo back at 1B?

junker23
Guest
junker23

Read the Sox didn’t want to move Middlebrooks around. Can’t say I disagree with them, it’d be tough for a kid to pick that up midseason. (Especially after not having ever played the outfield at any level before.)

J
Guest
J

I don’t buy it. Adrian hasn’t really ever played the position at any level, either.

Middlebrooks is younger, faster, and A LOT cheaper than AGon. He’s got a plus arm and great instincts at third. Middlebrooks has a much higher upside in the outfield, and there’s a lot less on the line if he gets hurt due to playing out of position.

Unless they think Youk is an injury risk at third, there’s no sense in putting Adrian in the OF instead of Middlebrooks.

Grant
Guest
Grant

That’s not the point though. They don’t want to move Middlebrooks around BECAUSE he is young and developing. Moving a guy around at this stage could stunt his development at the plate if all of a sudden he gets yanked out of his comfort zone and has to learn a new position on the fly. Of course he is faster and more agile than Adrian Gonzalez, but Gonzalez is a vet who has had years to master his plate approach and learn the major league game so he’ll hit wherever you put him.

J
Guest
J

I’m sorry, but that’s a load of crap. Moving him around the field isn’t going to do a damned thing to his approach at the plate. Unless he’s got the fragile mentality you don’t want a professional sports team in the first place, it’s not going to make a lick of difference.

Valentine has hinted that he feels the same way, but he’s yet to get the go-ahead from Cherington.

“That being said, I think he’s a pretty –– again small sample –– but my being around him is he’s a pretty mature baseball guy. He’s not going to be flustered by a lot of things. He’s more fleet. He runs a little better than a lot of third baseman, which might give him a little upside. It’s just a little different.”

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