Do the outfield shuffle

With both Manny Ramirez and Bobby Kielty needing more time off, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brandon Moss have been seeing a lot of action lately.

Ellsbury has excelled in September, going 9-16 with 2 HR and 6 RBI already. He’s also played some good defense, put pressure on opposing defenses and stolen two bases in two attempts. Moss has also played well, though he has only had six AB since being recalled. These guys give us a lot of athleticism and energy, some things we sorely need in this stretch run.

This has led a lot of Red Sox Nation to clamor for the benching of J.D. Drew, who has struggled this season. I would be in favor of a one week benching to get Drew fully healthy and with a clear head, but you can not stop playing him unless you don’t plan to start him in the playoffs. I don’t see that situation, no matter how well Ellsbury plays in the final 22 games. You don’t go into the playoffs starting a rookie with less than two months of experience, if you can at all help it.

Maybe Francona will need to start Ellsbury at times in October, but that won’t be the rule unless he smokes pitchers the rest of September. But based on his minor league track record, we might expect Ellsbury to stabilize somewhere around .280/.330/.400, not terribly compelling numbers. He’s still a great defensive replacement and pinch runner for us to have, I just don’t think he’s ready to start every day. I’m excited to see him in centerfield and at the top of our lineup starting sometime in 2008.


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