A little fun with lineups

Jon Lester's innings pitched the past three seasons: 210.1, 203.1, 208. He's officially a horse.

I’m not one to typically get hung up on baseball lineups. That is, it doesn’t necessarily matter to me who’s hitting fifth and who’s hitting sixth. Outside of the leadoff spot, I don’t think it matters much where guys hit. Hitters will hit; it’s just a matter of maximizing their production.

But, it’s February, Spring Training is in gear, and with the Bruins on the West Coast, I’ve got baseball on the brain. So let’s take a look at some possible lineups, shall we?


CF — Jacoby Ellsbury
2B — Dustin Pedroia
3B — Kevin Youkilis
1B — Adrian Gonzalez
LF — Carl Crawford
DH — David Ortiz
RF — J.D. Drew
C — Jarrod Saltalamacchia
SS — Marco Scutaro

It stacks lefties and righties more than Terry Francona has liked to do in the past. But this puts people in a fairly good situation, at the very least, to be productive. And with the uncertainty surrounding Saltalamacchia, I like the idea of having Scutaro hitting ahead of Ellsbury and Pedroia the second time through the lineup.

Also, if we could just take a moment and look at how great that infield is … OK. Moving on.


C — Jason Varitek
IF — Jed Lowrie
OF — Mike Cameron
OF — Darnell McDonald

With switch hitters Varitek and Lowrie and the right-handed Cameron and McDonald, the Red Sox have plenty of options outside of their lefty-heavy lineup. Look for Ryan Kalish to be assigned to Pawtucket to start, so that he can play every day and get a little more seasoning, not to mention limit his service time in the major leagues.

And, it was cute and all, but if Daniel Nava makes a return trip to the big club, something’s gone horribly wrong.

Against a tough lefty:

CF — Jacoby Ellsbury
2B — Dustin Pedroia
3B — Kevin Youkilis
1B — Adrian Gonzalez
LF — Carl Crawford
DH — Darnell McDonald
RF — Mike Cameron
C — Jason Varitek
SS — Marco Scutaro

The top of the order doesn’t change much here, but McDonald and Cameron each get at-bats against a pitcher like C.C. Sabathia, while Varitek hits from the right side. Look for Jed Lowrie to get into games early against devastating right-handers, like Justin Verlander, apart from when he just gives Youkilis, Scutaro or Pedroia a break.

Look for him to be the starting shortstop by the end of the year, really. But that’s another story all together.

Worst-case scenario:

RF — Ryan Kalish
2B — Marco Scutaro
SS — Jed Lowrie
CF — Josh Reddick
DH — Darnell McDonald
LF — Daniel Nava
1B — Lars Anderson
C — Paul Hoover
3B — Yamaico Navarro

Uh-oh! The wheels fell off, everyone’s hurt, and Epstein hasn’t been able to make a deal yet. Look for this lineup once this year — there’s always one strange game, where half the infield comes up from Pawtucket, the catcher has to be signed onto the 40-man roster, and ends with McDonald on the mound for the ninth. Hopefully, there’s only one.


LHP — Jon Lester
RHP — Josh Beckett
RHP — Clay Buccholz
RHP — John Lackey
RHP — Daisuke Matsuzaka

This is fairly cut and dry, and the order doesn’t matter much until the playoffs. But it’s important that Beckett reestablish himself as a top-of-the-rotation guy. He’s not necessarily the ace anymore, though. Lester, until proven otherwise, is the horse, and in that rare company with American League mates Sabathia, Verlander and Felix Hernandez.


RHP — Jonathan Papelbon
RHP — Daniel Bard
RHP — Bobby Jenks
RHP — Dan Wheeler
LHP — Hideki Okajima
RHP — Tim Wakefield
RHP — Matt Albers

The Red Sox typically like to employ a 12-man pitching staff, so look for seven guys in the bullpen for most of the year. Obviously, spring will have to play itself out, but I’m expecting Albers, over from Baltimore, to beat out Scott Atchinson, who was pretty consistent most of last year, Alfredo Aceves, Rich Hill, Matt Fox and Andrew Miller. Look for most (if not all) of those names to be in play as the season goes on, however. Miller, Fox and Hill (and I believe Aceves) already have deals in place that will let the Sox stash them in Pawtucket.

Spring games are already underway. If you’re lucky enough to spend some time in Fort Myers this year, well, consider me jealous. As I learned over three years in Arizona, there’s nothing like spring training baseball.


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