The Boston Red Sox have long been known as one of the most powerful lineups in baseball. Images of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez slugging home runs immediately come to mind when reflecting over a highly successful decade for the Sox. This year, however, the lineup has a myriad of questions to answer.
In a hasty decision, the Red Sox shipped Adrian Gonzalez to the National League in a season where he was carrying a mediocre lineup. Gonzo was hitting .300 with 37 home runs at the time of the trade. Without him in the middle of the lineup, Boston will need production from other players.
In addition to the decision to move Adrian Gonzalez, the Boston Red Sox elected to let go of Kevin Youkilis. Youk was a staple in the middle of the Boston lineup over the last several seasons, and while his departure opens the door for Will Middlebrooks to excel, Youkilis is another bat that the Red Sox have not replaced nearly a full season after he was traded.
There is still talent and promise in the Boston lineup, but it’s nowhere near as deep as it was just a few seasons ago. Dustin Pedroia, when healthy, is one of the best second basemen in baseball. Jacoby Ellsbury could emerge as an elite player at the top of the lineup, and Middlebrooks has endless potential. Unfortunately, there are too many holes.
In addition to unanswered departures of middle of the lineup talent, Boston will be leaning on an aging David Ortiz who may be deteriorating before our eyes. The corner outfield lacks pop, and the lineup simply isn’t deep enough to win in the AL East. Look for Boston to struggle as they rebuild, unless they make a move to fill the Gonzalez-sized hole in the middle of their order.