Oh, what to do with our three headed monster for 1B/3B? Three guys, Kevin Youkilis, Will Middlebrooks, and Adrian Gonzalez, are playing for two positions. Well, obviously, we should be doing exactly what we're doing now - splitting WMB and Youk at 3rd with the occasional use of all three utilizing Gonzalez in RF. Really? Even if that's true, what happens when Cody Ross returns in a week? The three OF positions will get pretty crowded with a quality Ross, the surprisingly good new-guys duo of Scott Podsednik and Daniel Nava, and the steady, good glove Ryan Sweeney... and, of course, Darnell McDonald pulling up the rear. Unless some other OF goes on the DL for a real or imagined injury, I have an idea.
Youk and Gonzo could platoon at 1B.
I know, I know, that's crazy talk, but let's look at this objectively.
Rank the 3B by defense: 1. WMB and 2. Youk.
Rank the 1B by defense: 1. Gonzo and 2. Youk.
Rank the hitting of all three vs. LHP by OPS: 1. WMB .943, 2. Youk .934, and 3. Gonzo .747.
Rank the hitting of all three vs. RHP by OPS: 1. WMB .808, 2. Gonzo .725, and 3. Youk .603.
WMB is clearly the best in all regards at 3B so far this year. Maybe he won't keep up this hitting level given the small sample size, but it's there now and we should ride that train while it's still running so smoothly. After all, we're doing it with Podsednik. At bats is what WMB needs to tune his craft against major-league pitching. Don't sit the best hitter of the bunch as we're occasionally doing now, and the idea of sending him down to AAA to face a few good pitchers and a lot of Michael Bowdens while Youk is back is not the answer, either.
Clearly, Gonzo isn't hitting up to his expectations and he'll no doubt turn it around somewhat, but maybe the occasional rest day against a LHP will help that along even given his current slightly negative split.
And as long as we have Youk (for another month or so, most likely), let him help the team by utilizing his hitting strength and prevent any injury by letting him play his best, as well as least strenuous, position.
I realize we have to stroke egos here and neither Youk nor Gonzo want to platoon while the rookie plays everyday, but if it is true that we're shopping Youk and Youk knows what tune is playing in the front office regarding his future, then explaining it shouldn't be so much harder then telling him the truth. "We're exploring trades and we want to minimize the chance of you getting hurt." For Gonzo, it could be more subtle - more along the lines of, "This is a good day to let you rest while we're facing a lefty, but be ready to grab a bat later because we might need you."
Our pitching isn't good enough to not be maximizing our scoring potential. The Youk/Gonzo platoon would give us our best defense as well. Let's groom our young guy and maximize our winning potential at the same time. Platoon Youk and Gonzo at 1B for now. There will be plenty of time left in the season to have Gonzo back in the everyday lineup - probably starting a month or so from now.