Bobby Valentine has had to juggle his lineup all season long, as injuries have left the club scrambling to fill holes.
However, as the Sox start to get healthy, there will be plenty of decisions for both Valentine and the front office to make.
Don Orsillo touches on some of those potential decisions in his weekly mailbag.
Don, how do you think the lineup will play out after we start to get guys back from the DL?
I think it will change every day. It has so far, with all the moving parts, and even with everybody back will also change daily. That's how Valentine has done it so far, and I do not expect him to change on that much. Matchups are a main part of it, and there is no way to predict day to day. The one exception I think we will see is Jacoby Ellsbury leading off everyday when he returns. After that is anyone's guess.
Was Carl Crawford worth the money?
I think obviously at this stage of the deal, clearly he has not lived up to the contract. However, there is a lot of time left for him on this deal, and I do hold out hope that we see the real Carl Crawford when he returns this season. It may take awhile, but I am an optimist here. I thought the signing was great at the time, and while it has not worked so far, I think it will. To me, he was one of the most exciting players in the game, and I am hopeful he will be again in the second half of this year.
Why is Nick Punto still in the lineup — not the defense but the offense? We must have someone in Triple-A or Double-A.
–Norman J. Langlois
I think he is coming around, especially as he showed over the weekend in Toronto. He has had a limited number of at-bats to begin the year and then was sort of thrust into that everyday spot at second with the injury to Dustin Pedroia. I think it took four or five games of regular at-bats to find his timing. I think he has that timing back, and he is fine defensively. I really think he is exactly what you sort of expect from a utility infielder. Some of the guys who are other possibilities as extras that we saw in the spring were Nate Spears and Pedro Ciriaco. I think Punto will be fine with more at-bats.
There is talk of trading Kevin Youkilis. Any idea who they have in mind to trade him for?
There seems to be a lot of talk about this. I think it is premature to be talking about it. I get that it is not the best thing to have Adrian Gonzalez playing in right field a few days a week, but I still need to see more of Will Middlebrooks before I trade away a middle-of-the-order hitter like Kevin Youkilis. I am unsure of what the glaring need is for the Sox. Maybe it is another starting pitcher. But what is out there, and what will you get back for Youkilis? I think prospects are maybe your best opportunity.
How do Andrew Bailey and Mark Melancon fit into the bullpen if/when they return? What role does Alfredo Aceves play if Bailey returns as the closer? Any irony in the fact that J.J. Reddick is tearing up the league with Oakland and the Sox are trotting out retread outfielders?
Great question. I really don't know. My guess on Andrew Bailey is that he would be the closer. That's why you got him, and that's what he does. Alfredo Aceves adapts to whatever role you put him in and can again if he is moved to the eighth inning. Mark Melancon is big surprise to me. Heading into the season, the only thing we were sort of sure of was that Melancon would work the eighth and Bailey the ninth. Neither has occurred. Melancon struggled early and was banished to Pawtucket for an extended period of time. The relievers are all performing well, and there has not been a spot for him to return in this numbers game.