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Roster decisions are coming for the Red Sox

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  June 30, 2012 11:34 AM

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SEATTLE — In theory — and mind you, this is only a theory — the Red Sox could wake up at some point in mid July with some interesting roster decisions to make.

The injuries early in the season created opportunities for other players. Guys like Franklin Morales, Daniel Nava and Scott Podsednik became important players when given a chance.

But now the injured are slowly making their way back to Boston. What happens then?

Consider what the possibilities could be on or around July 20.

Available starting pitchers (7)
Aaron Cook
Josh Beckett
Clay Buchholz
Felix Doubront
Jon Lester
Daisuke Matsuzaka
Franklin Morales

Available outfielders (9)
Carl Crawford
Jacoby Ellsbury
Ryan Kalish
Brent Lillibridge *
Darnell McDonald
Daniel Nava
Cody Ross
Scott Podsednik
Ryan Sweeney

* Plays infield, too.

Experience teaches us that there is no such thing as too many starting pitchers. Somebody always gets hurt or finds themselves in need of the phantom DL and a 20-day vacation. That issue will almost certainly work itself out.

A six-man rotation can work at times. But it's not ideal long term. Making five other pitchers uncomfortable to accommodate one is a good way to lose.

Trades? Forget it. The second you trade starter depth, trouble follows. Think the Yankees could like A.J. Burnett right around now? You find a way to keep all of them knowing they'll all be needed eventually.

The starting pitching will determine whether this team will actually contend. Figuring out the mix will be the greatest test of the Bobby Valentine/Ben Cherington shotgun marriage.

The outfield is not quite so complicated. Crawford and Ellsbury are All-Star players who make too much money to sit. Assuming they get healthy, there's not much choice but to play them.

Ross has proven to be a good find, hitting for power and playing well defensively. But Nava clearly deserves to play. You probably start with those four and consider one of the others as a fifth.

This could be an area where a trade can be made. There won't be a bounty for guys like Sweeney or Podsednik. But maybe there are creative ways to mix in a prospect and get a decent return.

This is the proverbial good problem to have. It wasn't all that long ago when the Red Sox were playing Marlon Byrd pretty much every day.

What would you do? Let's hear from you in the comments section.

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