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Taking a look at the lineup

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  December 11, 2010 01:49 PM

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It's Dec. 11 and Terry Francona doesn't have to make out a lineup that matters until April 1.

But what the heck, this is a baseball blog.

Francona said today that the best lineup for the Red Sox starts with Jacoby Ellsbury at top. So let's assume that.

1. Ellsbury CF

I think Ive been pretty consistent all along. Our best team is when jacoby is hitting first, Francona said. Is that Opening Day? Is it May 1? ... He missed pretty much the full year. If hes ready to do that, thats great. If not, we can give him a little bit of a break and hit him down in the order a little bit. Weve done that in the past and we can do it again. But I still think our best lineup is when he leads off.

Theo Epstein said a little while later that Carl Crawford can hit first, second, third or even fifth. Fifth seems like a stretch and Ellsbury is first. So let's hit him second.

1. Ellsbury CF
2. Crawford LF

Then you have four players for the next four spots: Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis. Since there are already two lefties on top, a righty is needed. Let's go with Mighty Mouse.

1. Ellsbury CF
2. Crawford LF
3. Pedroia 2B

Then let's alternate lefties and righties.

1. Ellsbury CF
2. Crawford LF
3. Pedroia 2B
4. Gonzalez 1B
5. Youkilis 3B
6. Ortiz DH

OK, then it seems pretty simple to slot in Drew, Scutaro and the catcher.

1. Ellsbury CF
2. Crawford LF
3. Pedroia 2B
4. Gonzalez 1B
5. Youkilis 3B
6. Ortiz DH
7. Drew RF
8. Scutaro SS
9. Salty/Tek C

Having Ortiz and Drew back to back against lefties won't happen. That's where Mike Cameron comes in. He would play either RF or DH. Cameron has hits lefties to a .269/.372 /.494 tune in his career.

Darnell McDonald, if he's around, also hits lefties. So against a top-tier lefty, the Sox could go:

1. Ellsbury CF
2. Crawford LF
3. Pedroia 2B
4. Gonzalez 1B
5. Youkilis 3B
6. Cameron DH
7. McDonald RF
8. Scutaro SS
9. Varitek C

Crawford said all the right things today about being happy to hit anywhere. But it's well known that he doesn't much like hitting first. That shouldn't be concern if Ellsbury stays healthy.

Ok, so maybe it is a concern.

But Francona does have a lot of options and most of them are good ones.

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