By Thalia Bardell, howiGit Contributing Writer, Boston, MA
On this edition of The Red Sox Try To Figure Out Their Line-Up Before October: Carl Crawford. After an abysmal April where he struggled immensely in the lead-off spot Crawford has turned it around this month, batting .368 in May from the 8th spot in the order. That .368 average also includes two walk-off hits — of course none of us envisioned Crawford as a number eight hitter when the Sox gave him $142 million over seven years, but it seems to be working for him. Unfortunately, we’re no stranger when it comes to paying large sums of money to players only to place them at the bottom of the line-up … or end of the pitching rotation (see John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka).
So is Carl Crawford due for an upgrade? Yes, which again begs the question that we’ve been asking since the beginning of the season – what’s the best Red Sox line-up? Ellsbury is locked in at number one; he’s had a hot May as well. Pedroia is slumping in the two slot right now, which means it is the exact wrong time to move him. Can you imagine if Francona told Pedroia that he was going to drop him to eighth in the line-up to take some pressure off – he’d probably get punched right in the nose. Pedroia hits like this; he’ll slump, he’ll get frustrated, and then he’ll start connecting and won’t let up. Francona knows him too well to move him. Ideally, if Pedroia were hitting well, Crawford would move up to the second spot and Pedroia down to the third. This would leave Adrian Gonzalez to bat clean-up, which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
But what to do with Crawford while we wait for Pedroia to re-heat? I read an article that argued for inching Crawford up. Move him to seven, then six, then maybe five. I argue for leaving him right where he is. Two reasons why: One, inching Crawford up in the line-up would leave the Red Sox with a big ole stack of lefties in the heart of their order – unappealing. Two, despite the fact that Crawford undoubtedly deserves an upgrade there is a nagging voice in my head saying: “if it ain’t broke …”.