The Red Sox is outfield about to get very crowded

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Jacoby Ellsbury homered in his rehab game Monday, Carl Crawford is moving his rehab up to Double-A Portland with an eye towards returning right after the All-Star break and Scott Podsednik is rehabbing at Triple-A just awaiting his activation. Ryan Sweeney (toe) will probably be back before the end of the month, too.

In the meantime, the Red Sox have the following guys playing outfield right now:

Cody Ross – .287/.358/.575 in 181 AB
Daniel Nava – .294/.411/.462 in 143 AB
Ryan Kalish – .250/.286/.300 in 40 AB

Obviously, something is going to have to give. Kalish’s demotion is inevitable, but even so, that’d only free up one spot for four players. The Red Sox are going to have a difficult time squeezing either Podsednik or Sweeney back on the roster, at least once Ellsbury and Crawford are ready to go. Here’s what those two have done this year:

Scott Podsednik – .387/.409/.484 in 62 AB
Ryan Sweeney – .292/.330/.404 in 171 AB

Nava has options and can be sent down, but the Red Sox would be crazy to do that while he’s hitting like this. Not only has he been outstanding offensively — he’s scored 26 runs and driven in 26 runs in just 143 at-bats — but he’s also vastly improved defensively from a couple of years ago.

The truth is that the Red Sox really won’t have any business playing Crawford until either Ross or Nava hits a rough patch. It will be interesting to see if they do it anyway. It’s not that Crawford is incapable of bouncing back; it’s just that his replacements are performing so well.

As for Podsednik and Sweeney, they may turn into waiver bait. The Red Sox could keep one of those two in addition to Ellsbury, Crawford, Ross and Nava, but that would mean jettisoning the newly acquired Brent Lillibridge, someone who offers much more versatility with his ability to play the infield.

My guess: Podsednik replaces Kalish sometime this week, then gets designated for assignment when Ellsbury and Crawford return after the break (the Red Sox are at 13 pitchers right now, which should change next week).  When Sweeney returns in late July, Lillibridge will likely be dumped, provided he’s still struggling offensively. If Lillibridge starts hitting, the Red Sox could try to slide Sweeney through waivers and send him to Triple-A.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.