The Boston Red Sox currently own the best record in the major leagues. They have a great starting rotation (which could get better with John Lester almost ready to take over for Julien Tavarez), a solid core of bullpen arms (Tavarez will only make it better when he goes back to the pen), and some explosive offense (with Ortiz and Manny not playing their best ball, either). And for some reason, people are complaining about what Terry Francona should do at second base. Some people want the rookie, Dustin Pedroia, to learn from his first-year mistakes. Some people want veteran utility man Alex Cora to play everyday.
Let's take a look at the numbers.
Pedroia has played 29 games (27 starts) at second base so far. The 5'9" (generous by ESPN.com) 180 pounder (generous by ESPN.com) is batting .259 with 1 homer and 7 RBI with a .351 OBP. Not bad for a rookie number 9 hitter. He is playing some pretty solid defense thus far, committing two errors.
Cora has played 19 games (11 starts) at second, with 7 starts at shortstop as well. He's batting .417 with 2 homers and 11 RBI with a .462 OBP. He hasn't made an error this season. The Sox are 11-0 when Cora starts at second base.
Obviously, Cora has more experience and is hitting the cover off the ball. And obviously Pedroia has struggled at time this season. But he did go 2 for 4 tonight in the win against the Tigers.
So what do I think? I say Francona should stick with the game plan. Let the rookie play 2 out of every 3 games approximately. Cora will still get playing time, as he can take Pedroia's spot every few days and occasionally play short when Lugo needs the day off. And he's always available off the bench to pinch-hit. Francona said today that he's keeping Pedroia as the starter for the time being. And I agree with the decision. There is a reason the Sox are 26-11 to start the season. And even though the second base slot isn't the main reason for the record, it still warrants some attention.
And just because I don't want to make this topic a whole new blog post, I guess I was very very very wrong in my Eastern Conference playoff prediction. Ottawa is just playing better than Buffalo, plain and simple. Down 2-0 in the series and you can only put 15 or so shots on goal against Ray Emery? I guess Ottawa deserves this series.