Diving into the depths: Boston Red Sox

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Boston Red Sox
1. Jon Lester
2. Josh Beckett
3. John Lackey
4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
5. Clay Buchholz
6. Tim Wakefield
7. Michael Bowden
8. Junichi Tazawa
9. Boof Bonser
10. Gaby Hernandez
11. Fabio Castro
12. Kris Johnson
Wakefield won’t be happy if pushed to a bullpen role to start the season, but it’s hard to imagine the Red Sox creating room for him if everyone else is healthy. Injuries will likely creep up and sort these things out. Odds are that the team will also have need for Bowden in the rotation at some point.
1. Jonathan Papelbon
2. Hideki Okajima
3. Daniel Bard
4. Ramon Ramirez
5. Manny Delcarmen
6. Boof Bonser
7. Tim Wakefield
8. Joe Nelson
9. Brian Shouse
10. Scott Atchison
11. Dustin Richardson
12. Ramon A. Ramirez
13. Junichi Tazawa
14. Fernando Cabrera
15. Fabio Castro
16. Michael Bowden
17. Jorge Sosa
18. Edwin Moreno
The bullpen depth is flat-out ridiculous. Nelson, Atchison and the other Ramon Ramirez are average middle relievers, Shouse and Richardson are legitimate lefty specialists and both Cabrera and Castro have some upside if they can find opportunities. Unfortunately, no one from the group figures to make the team unless someone starts off on the disabled list.

1. Victor Martinez
2. Jason Varitek
3. Dusty Brown
4. Mark Wagner
First base
1. Kevin Youkilis
2. Mike Lowell
3. Victor Martinez
4. Aaron Bates
Second base
1. Dustin Pedroia
2. Bill Hall
3. Jed Lowrie
4. Tug Hulett
Third base
1. Adrian Beltre
2. Mike Lowell
3. Bill Hall
4. Kevin Youkilis
1. Marco Scutaro
2. Jed Lowrie
3. Bill Hall
4. Tug Hulett
5. Gil Velazquez
Lowell is still around, but the Red Sox would almost surely prefer to change that prior to Opening Day. There won’t be nearly enough at-bats available to keep him content, even if the team did start to sit David Ortiz more frequently against left-handers.
Left field
1. Jacoby Ellsbury
2. Jeremy Hermida
3. Josh Reddick
4. Bill Hall
5. Darnell McDonald
Center field
1. Mike Cameron
2. Jacoby Ellsbury
3. Ryan Kalish
4. Bill Hall
5. Darnell McDonald
Right field
1. J.D. Drew
2. Jeremy Hermida
3. Josh Reddick
4. Bill Hall
5. Darnell McDonald
Designated hitter
1. David Ortiz
2. Victor Martinez
3. J.D. Drew
4. Mike Lowell
Hermida, Varitek and Hall would appear to be guaranteed spots on the bench. The fourth would have to go to Lowell if he’s still around and healthy. Otherwise, Hulett would seem to be the logical choice. Lowrie might yet be in the team’s long-term plans, but he needs at-bats after missing time due to wrist problems and he’ll probably get those in Triple-A.

Maybe Alcides Escobar shouldn’t bat leadoff

Alcides Escobar
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Alcides Escobar finished with a .292 OBP this year. He came in at .246 in 117 at-bats in August and .257 in 109 at-bats between September and October, so he wasn’t exactly flying high entering the postseason. Still, that didn’t stop Ned Yost from putting him into the leadoff spot for Thursday’s Game 1 against the Astros.

Yost finally did reconsider hitting Escobar first in September. It took Alex Gordon‘s return to health, plus the previous addition of Ben Zobrist to the lineup, in order to make that happen. However, it didn’t stick. Escobar hit ninth in each of his starts from Sept. 7-26, batting .236 with a .276 OBP during that span. With five games left to go, he was suddenly returned to the leadoff spot. The Royals went on to win all five games. Yost saw it as a sign, even though Escobar went 5-for-22 with no walks in those games.

Escobar went 0-for-4 in Thursday’s loss to the Astros. He did not swing at the first pitch of the game, which probably explains the defeat.

It’s been difficult to argue with Yost since last year’s World Series run and this year’s incredible run out of the game. The blind spot with Escobar, though, gets rather infuriating. One can defend hitting him leadoff against the Astros’ lefties. His career OBP against southpaws is .319 (.316 this year). Against righties, he’s the most obvious No. 9 hitter alive, with a career .258/.290/.342 line (.252/.284/.314 this year). He’s not a pace-setter. He’s not a spark plug. He’s a liability.

Astros top Royals in Game 1 of ALDS

Houston Astros' Jose Altuve, left, celebrates with teammate Luis Valbuena after scoring a run during the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

After shutting out the Yankees in the AL Wild Card game on Tuesday, the Astros beat the Royals 5-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday at Kauffman Stadium. Road teams are now 4-0 to begin the 2015 postseason.

The Astros grabbed an early 3-0 lead against Yordano Ventura through two innings. Chris Young took over for the Royals after a 47-minute rain delay and was very effective for the most part, allowing just a solo homer to George Springer over four innings while striking out seven batters. Colby Rasmus, who homered in the Wild Card game, took Ryan Madson deep in the eighth inning to give the Astros’ bullpen some extra breathing room.

Collin McHugh stayed in after the rain delay and ended up tossing six innings while allowing just four hits and one walk. Kendrys Morales did all the damage against him with a pair of solo homers. He’s the first Royals player to hit two home runs in a postseason game since George Brett in the 1985 ALCS.

The Royals’ offense showed some signs of life in the bottom of the eighth inning with back-to-back two-out hits against Will Harris, but Oliver Perez got Eric Hosmer to foul out to end the threat. Luke Gregerson tossed a scoreless ninth inning to finish off the victory.

Consistent with their identity during the regular season, the Astros won despite striking out 14 times. The same goes for the Royals, as they struck out just four times. Despite putting the ball into play more often, the Kansas City lineup wasn’t able to muster anything aside from the home runs by Morales.

Game 2 of the ALDS will begin Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET. Scott Kazmir will pitch for the Astros and Johnny Cueto will get the ball for the Royals.

George Springer homers to extend Astros’ lead over Royals

Houston Astros' George Springer (4) celebrates with teammates after scoring a run in the first inning in Game 1 of baseball's American League Division Series against the Kansas City Royals, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, in Kansas City. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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After Kendrys Morales brought the Royals within one run in the bottom of the fourth inning with his second solo home run of the game, George Springer took Chris Young deep in the top of the fifth to extend the Astros’ lead to 4-2 in Game 1 of the ALDS.

According to Statcast, the ball traveled an estimated 422 feet and left Springer’s bat at 109 mph. Royals fans are happy it was just a solo home run. It could have been worse, as Jose Altuve singled to lead off the fifth inning before being thrown out trying to steal second base during Springer’s at-bat.

The Royals will try to answer as we move to the bottom of the fifth inning at Kauffman Stadium.