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The Red Sox is outfield about to get very crowded

Jul 2, 2012, 6:16 PM EDT

Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury, Darnell McDonald Getty Images

Jacoby Ellsbury homered in his rehab game Monday, Carl Crawford is moving his rehab up to Double-A Portland with an eye towards returning right after the All-Star break and Scott Podsednik is rehabbing at Triple-A just awaiting his activation. Ryan Sweeney (toe) will probably be back before the end of the month, too.

In the meantime, the Red Sox have the following guys playing outfield right now:

Cody Ross – .287/.358/.575 in 181 AB
Daniel Nava – .294/.411/.462 in 143 AB
Ryan Kalish – .250/.286/.300 in 40 AB

Obviously, something is going to have to give. Kalish’s demotion is inevitable, but even so, that’d only free up one spot for four players. The Red Sox are going to have a difficult time squeezing either Podsednik or Sweeney back on the roster, at least once Ellsbury and Crawford are ready to go. Here’s what those two have done this year:

Scott Podsednik – .387/.409/.484 in 62 AB
Ryan Sweeney – .292/.330/.404 in 171 AB

Nava has options and can be sent down, but the Red Sox would be crazy to do that while he’s hitting like this. Not only has he been outstanding offensively — he’s scored 26 runs and driven in 26 runs in just 143 at-bats — but he’s also vastly improved defensively from a couple of years ago.

The truth is that the Red Sox really won’t have any business playing Crawford until either Ross or Nava hits a rough patch. It will be interesting to see if they do it anyway. It’s not that Crawford is incapable of bouncing back; it’s just that his replacements are performing so well.

As for Podsednik and Sweeney, they may turn into waiver bait. The Red Sox could keep one of those two in addition to Ellsbury, Crawford, Ross and Nava, but that would mean jettisoning the newly acquired Brent Lillibridge, someone who offers much more versatility with his ability to play the infield.

My guess: Podsednik replaces Kalish sometime this week, then gets designated for assignment when Ellsbury and Crawford return after the break (the Red Sox are at 13 pitchers right now, which should change next week).  When Sweeney returns in late July, Lillibridge will likely be dumped, provided he’s still struggling offensively. If Lillibridge starts hitting, the Red Sox could try to slide Sweeney through waivers and send him to Triple-A.

  1. seanatch - Jul 2, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    Can’t read this until title is fixed…pffft

    • ltzep75 - Jul 2, 2012 at 11:34 PM

      This too always bothered me. I can’t stand referring to a team as a singular rather than a plural. One would think the fact that, as we all know, there is no “I” in team, and that the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts, we could get over this nonsensical grammar miscue and use plural verbs in connection with a collective group of players working toward one goal.

      Now, I recognize there are likely many grammatical errors in the above. In this instance, however, I blame the booze.

  2. rhmurphy - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:02 PM

    The Sox haven’t exactly been treating Nava as an indispensable piece of their offense and there is no way he’s playing ahead of Crawford. Kalish gets sent down when Podsednik comes back, yes. But there is enough interest to turn Podsednik into a live arm before he needs to get DFA’d. When all is said and done, the starting outfield is Crawford, Ellsbury, and Sweeney/Ross, with both Kalish and Nava sent down, Pods traded, and Lillibridge the fifth OF.

    • patsandsox - Jul 2, 2012 at 7:22 PM

      I agree murphy I believe that was the planned outfield all along. I wish they could work in Nava until he cools down. Kalish and Nava will be september call ups

    • Joe - Jul 3, 2012 at 8:02 AM

      I agree with this mostly, but I sincerely doubt anybody is going to trade anything of value for Scott Podsednik. Remember, the Sox got him basically for free a few weeks ago. He’s having a fine season, but it represents 1/60 of what we know about his major league performance. He’ll be a DFA, likely unclaimed and sent to the minors.

      Kalish needs to play every day, so he’s the first one out and then can challenge for RF next season. I love Nava, but he doesn’t have a full-time job in Boston. They might be able to get something for him in a trade with a low-budget team hoping to make a playoff challenge – maybe to the Indians, who are getting pretty much nothing out of the LF spot right now, or even the Mets. In the long run, Nava is classic Billy Beane fodder.

      If they do the sensible thing and pare a bullpen arm, Nava and Lillibridge can coexist on the roster. Otherwise I think Lillibridge wins out due to his versatility.

  3. 18thstreet - Jul 2, 2012 at 8:10 PM

    Carrying 13 pitchers strikes me as crazy. Didn’t teams used to carry 10?

    • js20011041 - Jul 2, 2012 at 9:46 PM

      Yes, and they could do that today, but managers are so risk averse that it will never happen. For some reason, they’ve decided that relievers can’t go more than 1 inning, have to “know their role,” which apparently isn’t as simple as “make outs when I tell you to pitch.” And lastly, they’ve also decided that as the best reliever in the pen, closers are best used up 3 runs, with no one on, and facing the 7, 8, 9 hitters rather than the heart of a lineup in a tie game. Look, don’t go looking for logic when it comes to pitching staff management.

  4. sabatimus - Jul 2, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    Best thing the Sox could do to alleviate this when it happens? Send down Kalish, DFA Crawford and Daisuke and eat the money.

  5. bigleagues - Jul 3, 2012 at 10:58 AM

    First of all, the 13-Pitcher issue may be cleared up as soon as today (or as soon as needed) as Daisuke was roughed up yesterday – after skipping his bullpen warm-up due to that sore neck (which is either legit or a crutch at this point) creeping up again. So, if Dice-K goes back on the DL, that’s one roster problem solved.

    1) Naver (as Jerry Remy often hatchets his name in the common New England vernacular) is just 3 for his last 29 with 2 XBH, 3 BB’s, 6 K’s, 4 R, 1 RBI so he’s no longer “hitting like this”. He’ll stick as 4th OF until Sweeney is ready to return.

    2) Podsednik’s numbers will eventually level off as well, and he will almost certainly be the oddman out. Best case scenario is that Sox can peddle him for some low level prospect before needing to cut him lose altogether.

    3) Kalish will be a very good player. Potentially better all-around than Reddick, but not necessarily as dangerous at the plate. The Sox will not look to trade him and he’s got options, so he needs to go back to plow for now.

    4) Sweeney – This is the guy who was to platoon with Ross in RF. And the Sox envisioned him as their 3b or 4th OF from the start. Ross has been murderous vs LHP (as was expected) and quite solid vs RHP from both sides of the plate – so ultimately, Sweeney may have decent add-in trade value as part of a package deal.

    5) Amazingly, Cody Ross has been the Sox 2nd best hitter and is putting up the best season of his career. And, at 31, this may go one of two ways . . . 1) he may be prime trade bait (as he has been for his career) as the Sox search for a rotation upgrade or 2) he may have earned himself a 2nd year in Boston.

    So, I’ll assume that Daisuke is ticketed for the DL again. That was his last Start before the break, they have been deploying a 6-man and they don’t play Thursday, so they need not bring up another SP. The Sox can then use his roster slot to bring Podsednik back for the short term.

    When Jellsbury and CC come back, it’s Podsednik DFA’ed and Kalish optioned to Pawtucket. Nava to remain. Then . . . when Sweeney is ready, Nava gets optioned.

    Come August 1st and barring some unforseen trade involving Ross, Sweeney or another injury, the Red Sox OF will finally be Crawdaddy/Jelly/CRoss with Sweeney as 4th and Lillibridge as swingman between IF & OF. Which, other than Lillibridge, is exactly what the Red Sox set it up to be over the Winter.

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