Outfield Toss-up: Who Should Start?
The Boston Red Sox outfield has been a topic of discussion for several weeks now, but was intensified with the designation of Mike Cameron last week. As of July 4th, the only 100% certain position in the outfield is Jacoby Ellsbury. Carl Crawford is on the DL and J.D. Drew has struggled mightily this season, so it opens the door for some different faces to get a crack at the Fenway Park outfield. Josh Reddick and Darnell McDonald are the two primary candidates at this point without Cameron on the bench, but with McDonald’s poor .121 average this season in 33 games, it makes him a less valuable addition. There is also a 3rd option with Drew Sutton playing the outfield, especially being a switch-hitter. What does it all mean and what should the Red Sox do? Read on to get my take and my thoughts on the Red Sox take…
There are 2 ways of approaching this issue: from the Red Sox management perspective and from my perspective. Let’s explore my perspective 1st.
Until Carl Crawford returns, the Red Sox outfield should simply be Josh Reddick in left, Jacoby Ellsbury in center and J.D. Drew in right field. It is a simple formula of playing the best all-around players every day. I am a fan of McDonald and Sutton, but McDonald has been bad in the box and Sutton is more valuable as an infield back-up/utility man. As I just mentioned, this lineup provides the Red Sox with right-handed and switch-hitting bats on the bench, providing flexibility to pinch-hit for Drew later in a game. Reddick has been incredible in the field and in the batter’s box this season, so when Crawford returns, the outfield should be Crawford in left, Ellsbury in center, and Reddick in right, no questions asked.
The Red Sox perspective has been stated clearly these past few weeks. They want to platoon Reddick and McDonald, while using Sutton in the outfield on occasion. I understand the thought process behind using McDonald against lefties and Reddick against righties, but has the front office taken a peak at the stats? In 10 plate appearances, 9 at-bats this season against lefties, Reddick is hitting .778. He has 7 hits and 1 walk with 2 Ks in those situations, a pretty impressive stat line. McDonald on the other hand, is hitting just .132 against lefties this season in 41 plate appearances and 38 at-bats. I understand McDonald hits .273 against lefties throughout his career, but clearly Reddick is the better talent and better hitter, regardless of the opposing pitcher.
Once Crawford returns, the Red Sox will also not replace J.D. Drew with Reddick in right because of Drew’s contract, but it needs to happen. Drew is a great defensive player, but Reddick is an outstanding defensive talent. Drew is a decent hitter, but Reddick is an emerging star in the batter’s box. It is a no-brainer in my mind, but we all know the Red Sox will not make the move we all want. Also, Reddick provides a spark to the team, something this group needs as the long season wears on.
It will be an interesting topic to follow over the next few weeks, watching to see who is starting on any given day, especially until Crawford returns. Once Crawford returns, the Red Sox will have a seriously decision to make, because I somehow doubt they will carry 5 true outfielders and a utility guy that can play the outfield going forward.
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