Relax, Sox fans!

Listening to sports talk radio these last couple days has been painful at times, although entertaining at the same time.  These talk show hosts really earn their money at times like this.  Their patience with some of the fans is incredible, although you could tell that their patience is being tested by hearing the same tired arguments over and over. 

The main concern is which player will sit on the bench the lack of a Designated Hitter in the National League park.  These fans hear the answers, but they keep calling.  I suppose different fans tune in at different times, so they don’t hear the answers before they call.  To the talk show hosts, it’s so repetitive.

For the uninitiated, here’s the story:

If the Red Sox best home run hitter and clutch hitter, Big Papi, is to hit, he has to play in the field, which for him means first base.  That means that the hottest hitter on the Red Sox, Kevin Youkilis, would have to play somewhere else.  The only other position he’s used to is 3rd base.  But Mike Lowell normally plays there, and he’s been the Red Sox best hitter this season, shattering the team record for runs batted in by a 3rd baseman. 

The callers say: "Move Youkilis from in Rightfield and sit JD Drew". 

The hosts explain:  But Drew is hitting very well now, and Youkilis has only played a few games in outfield in his career, and is much slower than Drew, and Coors Field has a HUGE outfield.

RedSoxForecaster adds:  JD Drew hit his best during interleague play in familiar National League parks.  This is his first time playing in a National League park since interleague play.  His entire career before this year was in the National League.  He’ll hit well.  This is the worst time to take him out of the lineup!!!!!

Callers say:  "Move Mike Lowell to shortstop, and sit Julio Lugo"  (with Youk at 3rd and Papi at 1st).

Hosts explain:   Shortstop takes a completely different mental approach than 3rd base.  Lowell would have to re-learn where to position himself on defense for each type of hitter and situation, where to position himself for cutoff throws from the outfield, how to communicate with his 2nd baseman for who covers 2nd base on a steal attempt, and more.  It takes several weeks of practice to get the thinking for a shortstop position to be automatic so that you can make decisions instantly, on the fly, without hesitation.  YOU CAN’T JUST THROW HIM IN THERE WITHOUT A FEW WEEKS OF PRACTICE, ESPECIALLY NOT AT THE MOST IMPORTANT TIME OF THE YEAR, IN ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT POSITIONS ON THE FIELD!!!

The calls keep coming.  The hosts keep explaining. 

The one thing I wanted to call and say was FINALLY mentioned by one of the hosts.   The Red Sox will need to pinch hit for their pitcher at some point in the game.  They’ll need a good bat off the bench.  It will actually be good to have one of those 3 players available to pinch hit. 

Here’s how I’d explain it:

Imagine the situation:  top of the 8th inning, bases loaded, 1 out, you’re down by 2 runs, you’re going to bring in a new pitcher for the bottom of the 8th anyway, and the pitcher is due up.  You want a VERY GOOD hitter to come up.  You want to avoid a strikeout, a double play, or a popup.  You want a hit, or at the very least, a deep fly ball.  Who would you rather have come up:

Alex Cora, Bobby Kielty, Coco Crisp, Royce Clayton, Doug Mirabelli, or Eric Hinske?    Tough choice? 

How about if you had one of these 3 players as an additional choice:

Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, or David Ortiz?

No brainer!!! 

You need one of those guys available to come up for the pitcher in that key situation.  Use the other guys to pinch hit for the pitcher in less critical situations when you’re going to pinch hit for him anyway.  Try to save Clayton and Crisp for pinch running situations.  Mirabelli has to be saved for backup catcher if Varitek gets hurt.  Cora and Kielty are decent hitters, so they’re your "normal" pinch hitters.  Hinske is for lefthanded power only, when you’re looking for a 3-run homer off a right-handed pitcher.   You need a "super-pinch-hitter" for the most critical times, and without one of Lowell, Youk or Papi there, you won’t have one. 

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