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2007: Filling out the Lineup

Bryan Smith, one of the best baseball bloggers on the net from Baseball Analysts, shot me an e-mail today after his article on Hanley Ramirez and Joel Guzman.

What Bryan wanted to know from myself, is what I thought the Red Sox lineup would look like in 2007. Bryan wanted me to fill in the holes for his lineup:

C- Jason Varitek
2- Dustin Pedroia
S- Edgar Renteria
3- Kevin Youkilis
L- Manny Ramirez
C- Hanley Ramirez
D- David Ortiz

I think his lineup is pretty dead on, as it should be because he really knows his stuff. But, as requested, I'll fill in the gaps for Bryan.

I mentioned in the comments thread somewhere on this site, that I'd much rather see Hanley Ramirez play shortstop than third base because his athletic ability would be concealed if he was our full-time third baseman. Obviously, Edgar Renteria is a big clog in that hole for Ramirez. Renteria could move to third base, but odds are we wouldn't want to do that with the hefty price that we paid for him. So centerfield seems more of an option for Ramirez than either third base or shortstop. So Bryan hits it on the head when he says this:

Hanley might move to the outfield as well, possibly replacing Johnny Damon in center, after the Red Sox signed Edgar Renteria this past winter. The Red Sox have moved Dustin Pedroia to second and left Ramirez at short for the time being, leaving many to wonder if Hanley is simply the best trade bait available on the market.

Dustin Pedroia (who now have ranked as the #3 prospect throughout the whole farm system) playing second base in 2007 would be like getting two birthdays in one year. That's how great it would be, and how much it would mean to me because I like Pedroia that much. He has definitely jumped to the top of my "Favorite Prospects" list.

Kevin Youkilis playing third base is something that I really want to see. As much as I like Bill Mueller (because he is my favorite player), I just don't think he'll be our starting third baseman next season. Youkilis should man that position for years to come.

Every other position, without putting first base and right field, positions empty at the moment, has the current starter in their respective position in 2007.

Now to fill in the gaps.

First is one of the most vital positions in baseball: first base.

Here are Bryan's thoughts on who could play the corners (because Youkilis is versatile, and may be able to start at first in the future):

  1. Paul Konerko- Free Agent after this season, and in my opinion the most likely choice.
  2. Chipper Jones- Braves would eat some of his salary that will likely be 15M the next two seasons, and probably wouldn't cost too much.
  3. Melvin Mora- Free agent after 2006, and could easily be the 2007 third baseman.
  4. Todd Helton- Rockies will eat a ton, but Helton is locked up through 2011. Calculated risk for sure.
  5. Adam Dunn- Wouldn't this be great? Free agent after 2007, and maybe quite the package could prompt the Reds to trade him. Problem is not trading Hanley, Dustin or Youk.
  6. Shawn Green- Yuck, but he'll be available for very little.

As much as I would love to have Todd Helton hitting balls over the Green Monster, I think we may be able to look into the farm system for a first baseman in 2007. Don't get me wrong though: if we have all these prospects manning positions in 2007, then we should have a lot of money -- enough money to grab a Helton. I just want to see who we have for prospects that may be ready in 2007.

Jeremy West, who is absolutely smashing the ball in Double-A Portland so far this season (.421/.476/.579), has an estimated time of arrival, or ETA, of late 2006, according to Here is what Sox Prospects say about West:

Big, strong first baseman with a stocky build. Aggressive at the plate, steps into the ball with good bad speed. Pounds weak pitching. West has mostly DH'd throughout his career, but has played some first base and even catcher at times.

I've never been a big fan of West, but if you can hit the ball like he is right now in Double-A, then you need to get some sort of consideration to be a major leaguer. I know it's early in the season, but it doesn't disprove the fact that he is hitting great right now.

Though West doesn't play as much first base as you would want in a major league starter, he does have the ability to play there. He's also shown home run power when he hit 18 dingers for Sarasota last season. If West plays more first base this season and stays hot for the majority of the season, he can definitely be our starting one-bagger in 2007.

Another option coming out of the farm system is Ian Bladergroen, who we acquired when we traded Doug Mientkiewicz to the New York Mets this offseason.

Bladergroen is listed as the #11 prospect in the Sox farm system according to Sox Prospects. Here is his scouting report:

Pronounced "balder-grown," Ian occasionally goes by "Blade." Left-handed aggressive hitting first baseman with through-the-roof power potential. Average contact, average plate discipline, and an average glove. Missed half of the 2004 season after undergoing wrist surgery in July. Projects well if he gets beyond his injury.

The scouting report says it all: "throug-the-roof power potential." That's what you want in a first baseman, and Bladergroen may be able to provide that in 2007.

Bladergroen was great last season for Capital City, batting .342 with 13 home runs in limited action after having wrist surgery. This season Bladergroen is off to a slow start hitting just .258, but he did hit his first home run last night and leads the team with seven RBI's. Another upside so far this season is that Blade (nickname) has a .368 on-base percentage, which is .110 points higher than his batting average.

Bladergroen has more potential than West, thanks to his power and more experience at first base, but it really is a coin toss at this point. West is rocking the ball left and right, while Bladergroen hasn't got on track yet. Look for West to cool off a little bit (not too much though), and Bladergroen to heat up. It will just take some time for both of them.

Rightfield is one place where I wouldn't go for youth. If I were to mold the perfect right fielder to play at Fenway Park for 81 games, it'd look a lot like Trot Nixon. Actually, it would be Nixon. Trot will only be 33 in 2007, and that is certainly not "over the hill" in baseball terms. Nobody can play rightfield at Fenway like Trot can, also. Another big factor for seeing Trot still in a Boston uni in 2007, is that he wants to stay in Boston. He signed a cheap contract a short while ago just so he could stay in Boston.

Here is my finalized 2007 Boston Red Sox lineup:

1B - Ian Bladergroen/Jeremy West
2B - Dustin Pedroia
3B - Kevin Youkilis
SS - Edgar Renteria
LF - Manny Ramirez
CF - Hanley Ramirez
RF - Trot Nixon
DH - David Ortiz

Only time will tell now.