That the Red Sox front office is discussing playing Adrian Gonzalez in the outfield during the team's nine-game road trip to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Houston is completely bizarre and utterly fucked up. This situation -- which is magnified for Boston because of the talented players involved -- should be a colossal embarrassment for MLB.
To solve this problem, all Bud Selig has to do is say something like this:
Because the American League uses the DH, in any game featuring an American League team, both teams have the option of using a DH.Ta-da! Problem solved! And it doesn't even involve creating a new rule. This is already what happens in inter-league games in AL parks.
But because Selig remains allergic to common sense, Francona will leave one of his best two hitters on the bench or concoct some risky fielding alignment. Tito will likely (a) have Evil Bert and Flo split the nine games at first, depending on the opposing starter (thus keeping both non-outfielders out of the outfield) and have the other guy pinch-hit or (b) figure out which Red Sox starter(s) is least likely to give up hits and fly balls to right field and start Gonzalez out there on those nights, and pray everything goes okay.
But why should one of these guys have to suddenly ride the bench for a week and a half (5.5% of the regular season)?
AVG OBP SLG OPS OPS+ RC RC/9 XBH% Gonzalez .359 .410 .609 1.019 175 70 8.9 12.9 Ortiz .313 .391 .586 .977 164 59 8.1 12.5 AL Ranking Gonzalez Ortiz AVG #1 #7 OBP #3 #8 SLG #2 #4 OPS/OPS+ #3 #5 Runs #3 #9 Hits #1 #8 Singles #3 Doubles #1 #8 Home Runs #8 #5 X-Base Hits #1 #2 Times On Base #3 #9 Total Bases #1 #4 RBI #1 #8 Runs Created #2 #5 WPA #1 WAR #1Francona:
If we don't play David for 11 days, that's going to kill him. I don't want to do that. ...Francona's comment about not wanting Ortiz to sit on the bench for 11 days is odd. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition. Even if Gonzalez played every game at first base, Ortiz would likely pinch-hit every single night (or vice versa).
Gonzi has been taking some balls out in the outfield. He's very willing to do it. ... If you put Gonzi in right — that's the one place he says he can play — you're potentially taking J.D. out of the lineup or moving him to left. We've got guys all over the place. And then the other thing is, Gonzi, if something ever happened to him, I'd catch a lot of [grief]. ... I actually have some anxiety over this one. I want to do what's right, and I've got to try to figure out in my own head what is right. ...
Gonzi, I have no doubt, just from watching him out there, that if it's hit to him, he'll catch it and he'll throw the ball to the right base. I don't think he's going to run something down like [Carl Crawford] or [Jacoby Ellsbury]. But I don't doubt he'll make the plays he's supposed to.
Six of the nine games are against the Pirates - 25th in both Team OPS (.633) and R/G (3.77) - and the Astros - 20th in Team OPS (.694) and 19th in R/G (3.99) - two teams the Red Sox should be able to win two out of three or sweep without too much trouble, no matter who is in the outfield. (The Red Sox are #1 in both Team OPS (.803) and R/G (5.41).)
WEEI, post-game show, June 20:
Dave O'Brien: So you're on pace to walk 100 times this season. Now, in the past you've been content to walk 70 times, in that area. What gives this season? Why all the walks?
Dustin Pedroia: No protection. No protection. We gave Adrian 154 million dollars and I can't get protection, this is unbelievable. I don't care how hot he's hitting, he's hitting .360, I need somebody back there protecting me. I don't want to walk, are you kiddin' me?!