The Sox now have four starting caliber outfielders and Jim Thome is entrenched at DH. It will take some finesse to manage the lineup in a way that doesn't anger one of the players in question.
I am making the assumption that the team will rotate those players heavily, with one of Quentin, Podsednik, Dye, Rios, and Thome sitting every game.
The question is how will this rotation work? Will it be balanced or will someone sit more often than the other players?
I don't like the idea of using Rios as the fourth outfielder. He's too talented to ride the bench for long periods of time and he's a better fielder than everyone in our regular lineup.
Unless the Sox are facing a tough lefty on the mound, I don't expect to see Thome on the bench very often. He's by far their biggest left handed threat and currently leads the team in on base percentage and OPS.
I really hope that Quentin doesn't see significantly reduced playing time either. Though his .807 OPS since the break doesn't look amazing, he's been hitting the ball hard of late. If he gets hot, he's capable of carrying the offense. I think the team realizes that and probably won't bench him unless he starts struggling.
That leaves Scott Podsednik and Jermaine Dye as the two outfielders that could see their playing time cut.
Though he has been solid in the leadoff spot, Podsednik is not a good option in centerfield and doesn't have as much power as Rios.
Alex hasn't been on base as often as you would like this season. However, his speed and ability to rack up extra base hits would be an asset at the top of the order, and Scott hasn't exactly been getting on base 40 percent of the time either.
However, right now I'd play Rios in right field instead of Jermaine Dye on a fairly consistent basis.
Dye has been off his game at the plate recently. He's only hitting .161 since the All-Star break, which makes it harder to deal with his poor range in right field. If he gets hot again he has to be in the lineup, but at the moment he's not really helping the Sox, especially since he's hitting third.
Basically the Sox will have to play the hot hand to maximize Rios' value. All of their options are talented, but none of them are too good to sit for a few games if they aren't hitting.
The Sox have an extremely talented roster right now, but they have to start winning more games. Figuring out a successful outfield rotation could play a big role in their season.
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