Thursday, January 24, 2013

Red Sox Starting Lineup

There is so much to be worked out between now and opening day.  There will be injuries, trades, ineffectiveness and visa problems (can we make sure that Alfredo Aceves has visa problems? p.s. I'm going to go into hiding after this is published).  But, if opening day were today what would the starting lineup look like?  We here at redsoxmaineiacs are obsessed with lineups.   So here it goes...

The opponent's opening day starter will likely be C.C. Sabathia (I wish this was an April Fool's joke) so here's John Farrell's first Red Sox lineup card:

Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Shane Victorino RF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
David Ortiz DH
Mike Napoli 1B
Will Middlebrooks 3B
Jonny Gomes LF
David Ross C
Stephen Drew SS

Jon Lester SP

Opening day may prevent Farrell from putting out his usual lineup vs. left handed hitters.  I think David Ross will play against most left handed SP's assuming that he's platooning with Salty.  If he's platooning with Lavarnway then he may play more against tough righties.  Although, I don't see the catching being a strict left/right platoon.

Barring injury, Ellsbury, Pedroia, Ortiz, Napoli, Middlebrooks and Victorino are definitely going to be in the lineup.  Becuase Sabathia is pitching I think Gomes is a shoo-in.  The only real question marks are Catcher and SS.  Drew probably has a 75% chance of starting, but I still give Jose Iglesias a 25% shot at being the opening day SS.

That leaves catcher and my gut is telling me that Salty is not going to be on the opening day roster.  I'm confident that Lavarnway is going to have a great spring training and prove that his offensive slump of a year ago was just a fluke.  If that does happen I don't think Salty makes the team, but as of right now he is on the team and has to be considered the starter going into spring training so he's in the line up.  I give the three catchers an equal shot at starting on opening day.  Salty 33.3%, Lavarnway 33.3% and Ross 33.3%, so pull a name out of a hat for that spot.  One last thing that may give Ross the nod on Opening Day is the fact that he was likely brought in here to mentor Lester and Buchholz just as much as he was Lavarnway, so I could se him working with Lester and Buchholz a lot.  You just witnessed me changing my mind in the course of a paragraph.  I'm going to switch Ross to the starting catcher spot instead of Salty.

Now the order is a totally different animal.  I feel pretty confident in my top 3, but I'm not sure where to put Big Papi vs. a tough lefty in Sabathia.  The way that he hit lefties last year and assuming he is healthy he is your clean up hitter vs. lefties for now.  Then you have 3 pretty good righties in a row with Napoli, Middlebrooks and Gomes.  Salty is not a great right-handed hitter and we covered the catching situation above.  Drew is your second lead off hitter in the number nine hole.  Drew may very well move to the top of the line up or middle of the lineup vs. right-handed SP's.  

I know that lineup speculation can be a waste of time and energy because the team has yet to hit the field, but it is a fun way to pass the time until spring training.  Let's hear your thoughts on the opening day lineup in the comments section.


  1. I think for an opening day lineup you are nearly spot on, I do think if Gomes has a strong spring and with his careers #'s vs. lefties, he could hit 6 with Middlebrooks seventh unless Farrell want to lock Will in a set spot, if so it will not be 7th.

    As far as catcher, for some reason I am becoming more and more inclined to think Salty makes it at least into the season. With Napoli being unable to catch except for emergencies likely, that gives them less catching depth. So I can see Lavarnway starting at AAA unless he rips it all spring( and the man is all ready in Fort Meyers). I also agree with the premise that Ross as a top notch handler of pitchers is in town to help Lester and Buch. But even versus CC I bet Salty get the Opening Day nod just as a reward for last year's decent season and maybe as an incentive to kick start 2013.

    Farrell has been quoted as saying he is leaning to Vic then Pedey as 2 and 3 versus southpaws. And Drew slots as a 9 for now. Another interesting question about Victorino and Drew is where do they hit against righties? How far down from 2 does Farrell move him? 6? 7?

    I think Ortiz hits cleanup versus all lefties and maybe third against right handers.

    On this cold as hell Maine night it is warming ( a little) to think that pitchers and catchers first workout is less than 3 weeks away!!

    1. I think you are probably right about Salty getting the opening day nod as long as he's on the team. I also read the Farrell quote about Victorino and Pedey hitting 2/3 vs. lefties (in fact that's what actually gave me the idea to start writing this post). From that Farrell quote one could also deductively reason that Ortiz will be hitting 3rd vs righties with Pedroia hitting second.

      I could also see Gomes and Middlebrooks flip flopping as you indicated.

      As for where they hit vs. Right handed pitching? Let's take a look at that and unless Andy Pettite is the game 2 starter than they will probably face a righty in game 2. Most likely Kuroda but maybe Hughes or Nova.

      Farrell's 2nd lineup card:
      Ellsbury CF
      Pedroia 2B
      Ortiz DH
      Napoli 1B
      Salty C
      Drew SS
      Middlebrooks 3B
      Victorino RF
      Nava LF

      Buchholz SP

      At first look there is a lot more wiggle room or question marks, depending how you wanna look at it, with this lineup. Left field becomes a question and your 4/5 spots become a question. Could Drew possibly hit 9th vs. lefties and cleanup vs righties??? It's conceivable but not likely.


    A player with this many injuries eventually reaches a point where it derails their career. "Only missing spring training" sounds like a positive thing, but it really means that he'll start the year behind everyone else and likely never catch up. I know not everyone will agree with this, but I am saying goodbye to Ryan Kalish.

    He will never be a productive player for the Red Sox.

    The good news is that this may open the door for the next prospect in line to step up and fill an opening at some point during the season. I suspect Daniel Nava to be the 4th OF out of spring training, but if injury or a lack of production open up a spot look for Bryce Brentz to make his Boston debut.

    The Red Sox also resigned Ryan Sweeney to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.

    1. You know, Sweeney actually started 2012 quite well for Boston and as a 4th/5th outfielder he could be the lefty compliment needed to Gomes and Victorino ( yeah, I know Victorino is a switch hitter, but he hits as a righty much better in his career). The other thing this does is somewhat increase the need of the lefty hitting backup 1B Ben is looking for to be able to play the outfield as well.

      I think Kalish was bound to start 2013 at AAA anyway, so for now I would not write off his career or even his ability to help the Red Sox this year. But I agree his career path is quickly heading down a slippery slope.

  3. On a different note, how do people feel about the return of Pedro Martinez? He joins Jason Varitek as a special assistant to the GM. Both of them are going to try to feel out a niche for themselves within the organization. I can see this going two ways.

    1. The Carlton Fisk Path- It's only a matter of time before one of them has a mugshot in the paper for DUI.

    2. The Yaz path- They both become key instructors within the organization and do most of their work during spring training with young players teaching them "the Red Sox way"

    We'll just have to wait and see how it plays out...

  4. The first assignment for Pedro had better be to attach Rubby de la Rosa to his hip! This could be the the final piece to the de la Rosa puzzle to push him to being an ace starting pithcer in the bigs. Generally, I see Pedro role as three fold: 1. working with young pitchers, mostly minor leaguers. 2. Encouraging other Dominican youngsters to sign with Boston and 3. a public relations type role, this could even include a NESN gig eventually.

    Varitek will be a mentor to the young catchers at first, but he is beginning a career path to big league manager. As soon as his family obligations allow, Jason will be in a uniformed capacity or a much more hands on role in the front office.