Sunday, March 27, 2011

Speed Kills

The Red Sox have never been a fast club. It’s not just that only three players have ever stolen 50 bases for them. They never had a lot of the lower tier speed. You didn’t have years where 5 guys stole 20 bases. You never really worried about every member of the team going first to third. Well, get ready for all that to change. The Sox could have the major league leader in stolen bases…as well as the runner up.

Is speed important? Only if it leads to results. Hopefully this Red Sox outfield can do just that. In the field, having Crawford next to Ellsbury covers a lot of ground. If Ellsbury could throw, I’d consider putting Drew in center, and let the fast guys cover all the corners. But, I know I can’t wait for the first ball hit into the left-center “gap.”

Ellsbury has a lot to prove. He’s been exciting for a few years now. It’s time to be good. Being able to score from second on a wild pitch is only useful if he’s on second base. So, he needs to get on a lot more. Especially in front of the line-up now behind him. He needs to start dropping more bunts. He needs to be patient if a walk is as good as a double. Especially since Francona seems to be leaning towards leading him off. He just needs to get on first base somehow, and let it all flow from there. He needs a visit from Willie Mays Hays to show him what to do.

Or, maybe just a visit from Carl Crawford. I don’t know who is faster, Carl or Jacoby. (Or if Clay is faster than either of them) But, Crawford seems to get it. He can get on base. He turns at-bats into runs scored. He steals bases like Ellsbury, but I never considered him a “base stealer.” He’s a great player, who uses his speed to enhance the rest of his game. It will be a great example for Jacoby to follow.

As for JD Drew? Just keep on doing what he’s been doing. There are pieces around him. The Sox just need his consistent production as a steadying force in the line-up. Would it amaze you to know that Drew played more games in the outfield than any other Red Sox last year? Or more games that Pedroia or Youkilis? JD Drew is the least of my concerns.

OK, three more predictions.

Ellsbury: .295, 10, 64, 75 steals
Crawford: .310, 18, 95, 72 steals
Drew: .275, 26, 75, 3 steals

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