With the recent announcement that David Ortiz is expected to miss at least two to three weeks with a wrist injury, many are quick to assume that this is detrimental to the Red Sox. After all, since the beginning of the 2004 season, no one in Major League Baseball has hit more home runs or driven in more runs than Big Papi.
But is it entirely a bad thing? Though he has not recently been vocal about a desire to be traded, Coco Crisp has been clear that he feels he can be an everyday player, whether for the Sox or another team.
The issue, however, is that none of the three outfielders the Sox have could reasonably be benched in Coco's favor. J.D. Drew is going to make $14 million this year, Manny Ramirez is one of this generation's best players, and Jacoby Ellsbury is a candidate for Rookie of the Year.
Now with Big Papi's injury, Manny can DH (which I am sure he does not mind), allowing the Sox to play an outfield of Ellsbury, Crisp, and Drew.
This is crucial to team chemistry at this point in the season. As we approach interleague play and the All-Star game, teams need to come together for the long haul. Playing time allows Coco to show off the skills he still possesses, in case Ortiz recovers easily and the Sox can trade Crisp by the trade deadline for some bullpen help.
The other possibility for the Sox is to give some regular time to Jeff Bailey, who is tearing up AAA pitching for the PawSox. Bailey, in 52 games for Pawtucket, is batting .310, has an OBP of .405 (5th in IL), 17 home runs (3rd in IL) and 45 RBI (3rd in IL). At 29-years old, it would only make sense for him to go up to the majors, right?
Wrong. With a healthy Ortiz, the Sox have no room for him on an everyday basis. When Ortiz or Ramirez DH, Kevin Youkilis plays first and Mike Lowell plays Youk's other position, third base. If Youk plays third so Bailey can play first, then Lowell must sit. Otherwise, Youkilis, who owns the best batting average on the Sox, would have to sit so Bailey can play. Bailey could DH, but then Crisp or Ellsbury must sit in order for this to happen.
Between Bailey and Crisp, the Sox have a lot of trade bait to go get some bullpen help (I refuse to say they could trade Justin Masterson, after giving up Kason Gabbard and David Murphy for the juicer Gagne).
Theo Epstein and Terry Francona should have a very interesting couple of months ahead of them, thanks in part to Big Papi's wrist injury.