As of right now, this is what the Red Sox's bench would look like:
- Jason Varitek, c
- Mike Lowell, 3b/1b
- Jeremy Hermida, of
- Bill Hall, of/2b/3b/ss
While it may not be ideal, every position is covered with this setup. Varitek is the backup catcher and a switch-hitter off the bench. Lowell can back up at the corner infield positions and still carries a pretty big stick. Hermida can play the corner outfield spots and bring a decent bat to the table as well. Hall is the most versatile of all, playing everything but first base and catcher.
But this bench certainly isn't perfect.
What this bench lacks, though, is any good defense and any speed. It's certainly not the ideal situation to have.
The good news is that the bench above probably won't stick because the Red Sox will try and continue to move Lowell. Varitek, Hall and Hermida are pretty much locks, but if the Sox ship out Lowell, they have a few more options.
The most obvious is Jed Lowrie. Lowrie is a nice option because he can play second, short and third well defensively. The knack on Jed, of course, is the fact he can't stay healthy. The other issue is whether or not Lowrie needs more time in Triple-A Pawtucket. Lowrie doesn't necessarily to prove himself in AAA, but it may be a better route than sitting on the bench in the big leagues.
There are a handful of minor league options that could work -- Tug Hulett, Angel Sanchez, Darnell McDonald and Nate Spears come to mind. However, Sox fans shouldn't expect much out of them. They're like a Nick Green, except the odds are they're not going to provide anywhere close to the value Green did last season. They're fillers essentially -- guys to lean back on if you have to, but nothing more.
Unless Lowell is traded, it doesn't seem the problems of defense and speed off the bench will be fixed. Perhaps the Red Sox will deal with speed the way they've done it the last few seasons: acquire at the end of the year through the waiver wire. Remember Joey Gathright? All the Sox wanted was his speed. They got it and used it, but they spent nearly nothing for it.
Defense should be a priority for the bench, but maybe not as much in previous years considering how good the starting defense is already. The outfield won't need any late-inning replacements, nor should the infield (unless you count catcher). For once, defense off the bench is a backburner for the Red Sox (and no, Brian Anderson is not available).
It comes down to this: if the Sox need to start the season tomorrow, their bench is OK. But if they can improve it with more speed or defense, the bench should be in a good position for the 2010 season.