Baseball Thinking

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Will The Patchwork Infield Work For The Sox?

The Boston Red Sox spent a portion of their offseason on their infield, concluding with a complete turnover of each base and shortstop. No longer with the team are Kevin Millar, Billy Mueller, Edgar Renteria & Tony Graffanino. Instead, these positions are manned by Kevin Youkilis, Mike Lowell, Alex Gonzalez & Mark Loretta, respectively. And it appears that this is a short term fix. Lowell is signed for two seasons, while the rest are working on one year contracts, which sets us in motion for a completely different infield to start the 2007 season. But will this patchwork infield do the job?
Lowell’s struggles at the plate last season are well documented. During the first 75% of spring training, he continued to struggle. During the past 2 weeks, however, he has stepped up to the plate – literally. The third baseman has been swinging a good bat, despite many reports that his bat had slowed considerably. But there is no question that he can still play the hot corner as well as anybody. Will he be the guy that averaged almost 25 HR’s and 95 RBI over the 2000-04 seasons? Or will he be the post-roid guy who connected just 8 times last season? Gonzalez is considered to be the best MLB shortstop who hasn’t won a Gold Glove. As this may be the case, he is considered an offensive liability. He is trying to rediscover the stroke he established in 2002-2003, when he hit 41 HR’s and 156 RBI during that span. But that was pre-roid. The good news is that he can be hidden at the bottom of the batting order. Loretta brings a career .301 batting average, along with the ability to move the runners over, to Fenway Park. He also had a poor 2005 season, but that was due to injury. And then there is Youk. Fan favorite Youkilis is playing a new position. How much will this, and the fact that he is now an everyday starter, play into his production? RSN is hoping that their defensive skills can overshadow the possibility of poor offensive production. Time will tell. And the 2007 season should field a new infield as well.


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