The Boston Red Sox will lose their DH when the World Series heads to Los Angeles this weekend. But there’s an easy solution.
Put J.D. Martinez at first base.
Much of the talk has been about Mookie Betts playing second base or taking Jackie Bradley Jr. out of the lineup, in order to make room for Martinez in the outfield when the Red Sox lose their designated hitter in the National League ballpark. Those wouldn’t necessarily be outrageous moves, but I don’t think either of those two changes would maximize the potential of the Red Sox’ roster.
Making Martinez your first baseman would do just that.
Who would you have to put on the bench? Steve Pearce or Mitch Moreland? That’s a no brainer.
They can always use Pearce as a right-handed pinch hitter for Bradley Jr. later on in the game, which is something they’ll need if Eduardo Nunez starts at second base. That’s when Betts could then slide over to center field and Martinez could move out to right field, keeping Pearce at first base or even putting Moreland at first.
But they shouldn’t be taking Bradley Jr. out of the starting lineup or moving Betts to second base to begin a World Series game. That would be overthinking it.
Sure, Betts entered the Red Sox farm system as a second baseman. But he’s far too valuable in right field to remove him from that spot right now, even if he could still hold his own at second. And Bradley Jr.’s defense is just too good to put him on the bench, combined with the fact that he was the ALCS MVP because of his bat in that series. Crazy, right? Yup. But it’s true.
If you’re Alex Cora, and you want Martinez, Betts, and Bradley Jr. all in the same starting lineup while keeping your dominant defensive outfield in tact, then you simply put Martinez at first base in LA.
Martinez has never played first base. But so what? The Red Sox won the freaking division with 93 wins in 2016 with Hanley “what in the world are you up to these days” Ramirez starting 133 games at first.
OK, so Ramirez had some infield experience as a shortstop and third baseman prior to returning to the Red Sox organization in 2015. But come on, let’s be serious, if the Red Sox can win 93 games with the sometimes lackadaisical Ramirez playing first base, then it won’t kill them to put Martinez — a diligent student of the game — at that same position for a cup of coffee.
They had to do it with David Ortiz in previous World Series games in NL ballparks, and I believe they have to do it now with Martinez too. I don’t care how many times Ortiz had played first base with the Minnesota Twins before he came to Boston in 2003, don’t tell me that Martinez isn’t athletic enough to hold his own at first in Los Angeles.
It’s not like you’re asking him to play the hot corner. And Martinez is a professional athlete who, as we’ve seen, takes a whole lot of pride in his craft. And oh yeah, there’s a World Series on the line.
I’d like to think we’ve reached the point of the season where a veteran MVP candidate like Martinez would walk into the manager’s office before Game 3 and say, “Wherever you need me to play, I’ll do it.”
Cora might not make this move, but I would, and I wouldn’t think twice about it. Put Martinez at first base.
It should be an easy decision.
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