Throughout the season, the Red Sox have been very inconsistent with the catching and left field positions. In the beginning of the season, Blake Swihart was the starting catcher. Not too long after that he started to lose time to Ryan Hanigan and Christian Vazquez. Soon after Vazquez was thrown into the mix, Swihart was not seen again at the catching position and was dropped down to the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox.
For the majority of the season, Vazquez has been the everyday catcher with Hanigan catching a game or two here and there. But on June 5th Hanigan suffered a neck strain and was put on the 15 day DL. So most recently we have seen Vazquez sharing time at catcher with Sandy Leon, who is batting 10 for 16 (.625) on the season. Vazquez has seen significantly more time than any other catcher the Sox have had this year, but I question this. Christian is batting only .221 this year but is a pretty good defensive catcher with a strong arm. I just question why with a guy like Leon who has been hitting very well when he gets in, doesn’t see a little more playing time. I understand he’s only had 16 at bats, but when a guy is that hot coming into his first at bats of the season, you usually keep him in and see what he can do.
The biggest question the Sox face is who is going to be their left fielder. I feel like every time I watch them there’s someone different in left. The Sox started the season with Brock Holt as their starting left fielder. He played pretty much every day in left and performing at an average rate. But when he suffered a concussion on May 20th, he was put on the DL and hasn’t returned since. Holt is recovering from a concussion slower than normally but concussions are taken much more seriously now a days since we know so much more about the dangers of them. Holt is currently rehabbing with the Paw Sox and he is batting 3 for 6, with two doubles in two games. His return date to the Red Sox is uncertain but I can imagine when he get’s back he will be thrown right back into the lineup to see how he performs.
Meanwhile, when Holt was gone, left field saw action from mainly two different players; Chris Young and Blake Swihart. When Swihart was sent down to the minors, he decided that his best chance at playing for the Red Sox would be to switch to outfield and compete for the left field spot. Being the athletic and quick player he is, he transformed himself into a surprisingly well outfielder. Him and Chris Young would split time with each other in left. But Swihart was placed n the 15 day DL when he severely sprained his ankle running into a wall. So this leaves Chris Young alone, who has been playing left almost every day for the Sox and performing fairly well. He is batting .282 on the season and has had some big hits for the Sox this season. He has turned himself into a guy that we could see as an everyday player in the outfield.
But the thing is, when Holt finally comes back the Sox are going to put him back in left to compete with Young. Which is fair because he lost his starting spot due to injury. However it is not a given that Brock will just get his starting spot back because he was only batting .239 at the time of his injury, so it’s going to be a battle between the two. And when Swihart returns from his injury, who knows what’s going to happen because he was also hitting and playing fairly well in left.
Now the problem I have with all of this is that many teams don’t play well when there’s constant changes to the starting lineup. Most teams have the same guys at the same positions for the majority of the games. The Red Sox seem to have a different lineup every night. Whether its the catcher, the left fielder, the second baseman, or Ortiz has a day off; its always different. Having too many changes to a lineup too often can screw up the flow or momentum of a team. I blame a good amount of losses to this problem. John Farrell has made many Sox fans angry this year with his questionable choices in just about any decision he makes. As the season goes on, Farrell needs to make up his mind of who his every day players are because playing musical chairs with these guys all year just isn’t going to work.