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The Red Sox shuffle their outfield

May 25, 2010, 9:32 AM EDT

Mike Cameron has been activated, Darnell McDonald has been designated for assignment and Terry Francona has decided that Jacoby Ellsbury will stay in centerfield with Cameron manning left.  Let us unpack, shall we?

Good news for the Sox having Cameron back. He started slow before the injuries sapped him, but he appears to be feeling great now. He even hit a walkoff homer in his last minor league rehab assignment.

I like Ellsbury in centerfield. As his comments here suggest, he wasn’t comfy in left, and given how banged up everyone is, better to keep them in their comfort zone (and Ellsbury has more comfort in Fenway’s centerfield than Cameron does).

The McDonald DFA brought forth all kinds of “wow, tough break for him; what a shame there’s no way to keep him” sentiment among Boston scribes on Twitter last night.  Terry Francona was downright misty when he announced it.  I get that, I suppose, inasmuch as McDonald had a couple of big hits right after being called up when everything seemed so bleak for the Sox. But let’s face facts: McDonald was hitting .263/.320/.400, which is pretty much off-the-shelf production for a career minor leaguer called up to the bigs, and his defense wasn’t all that good either.

I’m not criticizing the Boston writers for their sympathies for the guy. Just noting that while the east coast media are often described as tougher than nails and highly critical, they have their sappy side too. Indeed, it seems like every other year either the Boston or New York people fall in love with some amiable-yet-replaceable fill-in like McDonald at the same moment they’re ripping someone who is actually a key contributor to the team.

They’re not always good, not always bad. Just . . .complicated.   

  1. YankeesfanLen - May 25, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    You’re definitely right about the Sap-O-Meter- O”Connor at 10, Lupica at 9, various others fill in at 7+.
    Two words: Shelly Duncan

  2. whitemule4 - May 25, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    I think what you probably don’t quite understand is that the Sox media has followed the team for decades, not years… and they have seen hundreds of guys like McDonald come up from the minors, play with no passion, no production, and then fade into the abyss of minor league baseball.
    So when they see a guy that has put it on the line for the team and has to go back to the minors… it is a sad day.

  3. JBerardi - May 25, 2010 at 10:37 AM

    Darnell McDonald can’t hit a breaking ball and isn’t much of a defender. He had a nice little run there, but it’s over.

    I don’t like Ellsbury in centerfield. He might be comfortable out there, but he’s not particularly good. And what’s the point of having Mike Cameron on your team if he’s not playing center?

  4. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - May 25, 2010 at 10:42 AM

    Two words: Shelly Duncan

    Scott Brosius, and the two hundred plus articles written by Lupica about how the Yanks would be better with Brosius than Arod, just shed a tear.

  5. J Rose - May 25, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    Although his numbers weren’t great, McDonald contributed some big hits & RBIs, showed heart and hustle and was a likable guy. Those are enough reasons for not wanting to see him go. Now I’m not saying he should be an everyday starting outfielder, but a role player/sub off the bench would have been fine with most of the Boston faithful (media included).
    As for Ellsbury in CF, the decision should have been made in the spring. Handing the starting CF job to a 37 year old when you had a young speedster there already was ridiculous, and I think they finally realized it. Let the veteran navigate the Wall, and let the kid play where he is comfortable and covers more ground than a gazelle on crack. Better late than never.

  6. Joey B - May 25, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    It gets way overplayed. I like MacDonald and believe there are worse #25 guys out there. But like 1000 guys before him, he caught lightening in a bottle, had a good run, and will likely revert to norm. Even over his last 69 ABs, his OPS is .586 with a 19/2 K/W ratio. He’s this year’s Nick Green. A reminder of why you need a quality #26, 27, and 28 in the minors, while keeping in mind that there is a reason why they are in the minors.

  7. Jack Marshall - May 25, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    Craig, you’re just wrong about McDonald. I watched him in every game he played. He was instrumental in about three wins, maybe four. He had a bad game in NY, and was over-extended a bit in center, but his fielding was more than adequate, and he has strong and accurate arm. His base-running was excellent, and he showed a knack for big hits. He would be much more valuable on the Sox roster than Mike Lowell at this point; I wouldn’t take him over Hermida, but he’s better in the field. I think he earned a little bit more respect with his play than being dismissed on the basis of pure stats.

  8. J Rose - May 25, 2010 at 11:23 AM

    I can’t argue with that. But guys like DMac (was he around long enough to be called that?) are one reason why baseball is so enjoyable. Every year there is a player on your team who wins the favor of the fans, only to disappear into a oblivion a year -or less- later.

  9. JBerardi - May 25, 2010 at 11:25 AM

    “Now I’m not saying he should be an everyday starting outfielder, but a role player/sub off the bench would have been fine with most of the Boston faithful (media included).”

    Yeah, maybe if you can convince Selig to grant the Red Sox a 26th roster spot. The Sox have Drew, Ellsbury, Cameron, Hermida and Bill Hall. They don’t need a sixth outfielder for anything, especially one who’s slower and worse in center than Ellsbury OR Cameron. Such is life for a marginal outfielder.

  10. J Rose - May 25, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    Better than Lowell? C’mon Jack. I liked the kid, too, but there’s no way you take a career minor leaguer over a World Series MVP, even at this stage of his career. Remember McDonald is no kid, he’s 32!

  11. J Rose - May 25, 2010 at 11:31 AM

    Point taken. But the only reason I’d keep Hall over McDonald is b/c he plays infield as well as outfield. Other than that, check my previous comment about liking guys who contribute to your favorite team and then fade away.

  12. JBerardi - May 25, 2010 at 12:09 PM

    I’m no fan of Bill Hall– I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player who makes baseball seem as difficult as he does. But his willingness to pretend to play shortstop makes him the more valuable use of a roster spot. Also, McDonald will probably just clear waivers and end up back in Pawtucket, whereas I don’t think Bill Hall can even be sent to the minors against his will (too lazy to check contract status/specific rules on this one).

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