On the one hand, I will be sad when this World Series is over, for it will mean that summer is over, winter is here, and months upon months of suffering an arid, baseball-less television landscape.
But on the other hand, I will be unspeakably happy. For once this World Series is over, it will mean the end of this nonsensical debate over what Terry Francona should do to his lineup in Coors Field. Some of the alternatives being bandied about are positively Byzantine in scope. The two most popular:
Option A: Put Ortiz at first! Move Youkilis to third base! Put Lowell in at shortstop! Bench Lugo!
Option B: Put Ortiz at first! Move Youkilis to right field! Bench J.D. Drew!
This just goes to show that Red Sox Nation in October is incapable of keeping its collective head. People have gone temporarily insane. The only remedy for this madness? Remind ourselves of certain facts:
Fact: Mike Lowell has never played shortstop. Mike Lowell only has 9 games played at a position other than third base, compared with 1,253 games played at third base. Mike Lowell holds the all-time National League record for the fewest errors committed by a third baseman. You do not want to move Mike Lowell from third base.
Fact: Kevin Youkilis has never played right field. Though the receptionist in my ophthamologist’s office tried to contradict me on this fact this morning, I have now double-checked ESPN.com and confirmed this indisputable fact. It is true that he has a whopping 18 games in left field, but I am sure none of those games involved left fields as expansive as the left field at Coors. Kevin Youkilis sweats hard enough in the batter’s box. The very notion of seeing him huffing and puffing his way to and fro across the vast Coors outfield should come with a warning label: CAUTION: MAY CAUSE DEHYDRATION.
Fact: J.D. Drew’s bat, for reasons known only to itself, has chosen this moment to awake, throw some clothes on, and join the party. J.D. Drew is hitting .349 in October and .500 over the past seven days. You do not want to bench J.D. Drew.
Then there’s the simple truth that Terry Francona is not a “tinkering” manager. Terry Francona is a manager whose motto is, “First, do no harm.” Terry Francona is not going to choose Game 3 of the World Series to suddenly start cooking up wild experiments like converting his third baseman to a shortstop or his first baseman to a right fielder.
So what will we see in Coors? There are two options, neither of them as attention-grabbing as the two options above, but both far more likely to occur:
Scenario 1: Ortiz starts at first base. Youkilis is ready to come off the bench either as a defensive replacement, or if David’s knee starts bothering him, or, in a close game, the half-inning after David draws a walk and comes out for a pinch runner.
Scenario 2: Youkilis starts at first base. Until, with runners in scoring position, the Red Sox in need of a run, and Lugo up to bat, David Ortiz suddenly becomes the world’s most insanely overqualified pinch-hitter.
Of these, I think Scenario 1 is more likely. As hot as Kevin Youkilis has been in the postseason, David Ortiz is still David Ortiz. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of offense with Youkilis starting: this postseason, he’s actually been slightly more productive than Ortiz with 4 homers, 1o RBI, 9 walks, 19 hits, and 16 runs scored; Ortiz is actually lagging just thismuch behind his teammate with 3 homers, 8 RBI, 13 walks, 15 hits and 15 runs scored. But Scenario 1 gives Terry Francona more options, which a manager can never have too much of in October.
Unless, of course, you’re talking about inane, pie-in-the-sky options like rewiring the entire roster with only two wins to go.
UPDATE: It is as I predicted.