There's been a lot of discussion lately about the issue of CF for the Red Sox. Manny shows signs of life, and Drew has been basically everything advertised plus a little more (there've been a few plays that I've yelled about, but he's been hustling a lot more than we were led to believe). What of CF, however?
Coco was beginning to warm up a bit at the plate after a rough start, that is until his oblique became brusied or strained or whatever it is. Despite his early struggles, Crisp was catching everything hit toward him in CF, and his ultimately fruitless dive over the wall for A-Rod's HR shows that he's certainly not lacking in effort.
Replacing him the last few games has been Wily Mo Pena. As we all know, Pena's calling card is prodigious power, and the hope was that everyday work would get him in a better rhythm at the plate, masking his defensive deficiencies (or at least making them more acceptable). This has not been the case, as his defense has been exposed while he has struggled at the plate. Despite the comments I've made about him (i.e. I never want to see him in another game at CF), I'm not quite ready to give up on Wily Mo after just a few bad games. A nice 2 HR game with awkward but uneventful fielding in CF would do much to restore my faith.
However, we must look to the LT, especially if Coco does head to the DL. What do we do? We have a few options.
Wily Mo continues his adventures in CF, backed by a nice resurgence in hitting. It is not ideal, given that of our starters, only Julian Tavarez limits fly balls to any appreciable degree. And he's likely headed back to the bullpen sooner or later.
Drew to CF, Hinske/Wily Mo in RF.
We know Drew can handle CF, but the question becomes whether RF or CF at Fenway requires more skill. I tend to think this is the least likely option, though it might provide the maximum offensive output.
Murphy up from Pawtucket.
I would actually be...okay with this option. As you could see in the minor league update I wrote up, he's exhibited decent patience at the MiL level. While most of us know he'd be an improvement over Pena in CF, just how much would that be? Take a gander at this article. Skip down to the CF portion, and you'll see Murphy ranked among the worst in CF. He probably won't make the bonehead errors which have caused us some panic about Pena, so it looks as though his range might not be up to snuff. And given that he added some bulk in the offseason, that could be a serious concern.
Ellsbury up from Portland.
Okay, I admit, THIS is probably the least likely option. Ellsbury has been tearing up the competition at AA. In an article by the same author, Ellsbury is clearly the top of the class in terms of MiL defenders in CF. He could certainly handle that particular portion of the job at the moment. This is the option that is more likely if there's a long-term issue, in my opinion. I think he's old enough (23) and mature enough to handle the pressure.
If this doesn't happen, and a minimum stay on the 15-day is neccessary, expect that Ellsbury won't be in the discussion. The question will be whether the Sox need Murphy's defense and patience more than Moss's potential power. The aforementioned defense may actually be sub-par, so I must say that my vote would be for option 1 or 2 with Brandon Moss on the bench (or possibly in Hinske's place in that platoon).