COMMENTARY| With spring training a little over a month away, it seems like a good time to try to project what the Boston Red Sox may look like in 2013. Boston went through a bit of a face light bringing in numerous players to fill out what was a depleted roster. Here is what the lineup may look like to start the season.
Leadoff: Jacoby Ellsbury (CF). When healthy, Jacoby Ellsbury is one of the best leadoff men in the league. Unfortunately, he's missed considerable time in two of the last three years. The good news is that he should be healthy entering the 2013 season. It's also a contract year for Ellsbury, so the motivation should be quite high. The center fielder is also the best stolen base threat on the team. Ellsbury has averaged 53 SBs a year. His career OBP (.349) could improve, but it's still a respectable number for a leadoff man.
Two-Hole: Shane Victorino (RF). One of the new guys for the Red Sox, Victorino will look to have a solid start to this season. Victorino had a 2012 to forget, averaging just .255. He did however finish with a respectable 39 SBs. He gives the Red Sox even more speed in the top of the lineup. There will be some flexibility with Victorino if he gets off to a slow start. He could easily be moved down in the lineup, considering the Sox have other players who could fill the number two spot. Victorino also brings the added benefit of leading off if something were to happen to Ellsbury.
Other Possibilities: Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury
Three-Hole: Dustin Pedroia (2B): The heart and soul of the Red Sox is an ideal third hitter. Pedroia can and will do anything to get on base or advance a runner. His career OBP is nearly .370 and has respectable power. Pedroia is someone who can (and practically has) successfully filly any spot in the lineup. His all-purpose style is what makes him an ideal three-hole batter. Watching Pedroia adapt to any situation is a sight to see.
Cleanup: David Ortiz (DH): Can Ortiz continue to get the job done? Incredibly Big Papi's average has gone up the last two years, even with his advancing years (37). There is the possibility that 2013 will be the year that Ortiz finally slows down. However, we have been saying that for five years, and it hasn't yet happened. So why can't he continue to go out there and produce for a few more years? The cleanup spot is where he should be, with a solid OBP and good power numbers. Ortiz finished with 23 HRs in just 90 games in 2012.
Five-Spot: Will Middlebrooks (3B). It will be a welcome sight when Middlebrooks is back in the lineup. The corner infielder was punishing American League pitching before breaking a bone in his right hand last August. Middlebrooks finished with 15 HRs and 54 RBIs in just 75 games last season, so expectations will be high to start the season. Outside of Ortiz, he is the best power hitter on the team, especially since Mike Napoli remains unsigned. The five-spot is a great fit for Middlebrooks.
Other Possibilities: Jonny Gomes, David Ortiz
Six-Spot: Jonny Gomes (LF). This is where things get a little watered down. Gomes probably won't be an every game player, but based on seniority, he does earn this spot. Gomes lacks typical six-spot numbers, but makes up for it with a decent OBP (.377 last year). He also tends to stay out of double plays, a major key for a middle lineup player. In a perfect world, Gomes is further down the lineup (or not starting). However, he is here until the Red Sox figure out first base.
Seven-Spot: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (C). Some may argue he should be higher in the lineup than Gomes, but the numbers say otherwise. Saltalamacchia did have 25 HRs last season, but the BP was under .290, with an average of just .223. With David Ross signing on this season, Salty may be worrying about his spot in the lineup. If the struggles continue, Ross could find himself in the lineup more than originally expected.
Other Possibilities: David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Pedro Ciriaco
Eighth-Spot: Mauro Gomez (1B). The great unknown for the Red Sox is the 1st base position. With Napoli still not signed, Gomez becomes the starter. He played well in limited time last season, averaging .275 in 37 games. Gomez didn't show any power, but that won't have much impact in the eighth spot. Would the Sox love to have a more proven player at 1st? Absolutely. But until that time Gomez will become a household name.
Other Possibilities: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, David Ross, Ryan Kalish, Pedro Ciriaco
Nine-Spot: Stephen Drew (SS). The Red Sox are obviously not ready for Jose Iglesias to take the reins at shortstop, so Drew was signed. He will likely be the opening day starter at the position and is a perfect nine hitter. He doesn't have a strong average or much power. He is just mediocre. A perfect fit for the nine-spot. Sure, some teams like to look at this position as a second leadoff. However, the Red Sox just need to find a spot to hide a subpar player.
Other Possibilities: Pedro Ciriaco, Jose Iglesias, Ryan Kalish
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox. You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.