The Red Sox outfield is capable of being a top flight trio, or a complete mess.
We've got Manny in left, of course, but God knows what he's going to pull this year. He might opt to retire early to pursue his eBaying career. We know what we're going to get production wise from Manny, when he's playing. He's, gulp, the most dependable guy we have in the OF right now.
I think Manny will hit .320, with 40 HRs, 135 RBI, .420 OBP, .620 slugging (very nice OPS).
Center-field we'll start out with Crisp. We really don't know what we've got with Crisp. He still seems a bit less than healthy, and his Spring Training was horrible. I really don't think Crisp will have a good season. I think he hits .265 and by the middle of his season will find his playing time dramatically reduced.
Right-field is another big question mark in J.D. Drew. Drew's health and ability to maintain that health is the big unknown here. I think he won't get injured, though. I don't know why. I actually think he'll become a very productive member of the team. He'll hit .285, with 25 HRs, and 110 RBI, with an OBP of .400.
Wily Mo Pena is actually a really good 4th outfielder. Defensively he's essentially useless, but he is capable of putting up good numbers. I think we'll see a concerted effort to get Pena at-bats. He'll play in RF against certain lefties, allowing Drew to sit. He'll play in center if Coco struggles, he'll get pinch-hit ABs when we need a power hitter up, he'll DH when Ortiz gets a day off, and if Drew, Manny, or Coco cannot play, Pena will get the not. He'll give us some production, with a lot of strikeouts thrown in. But looking at his numbers from last season, they aren't that bad. The 90 K's in 276 ABs is very poor, but he also hit .301, with an OBP of .349, 11 HRs, and 42 RBI in limited playing time.
The Sox have some guys that are capable of occasionally playing in the OF. They might get in there in case something bad happens to Crisp, Manny, or Drew, which is unfortunately quite likely. Hinske can play the corner outfield spots, Lugo has some appearances at all outfield positions, Youkilis can play the outfield, and Cora has been used as a LF in the past. But these will be in tight spots.
The true 5th outfielder, right now, is David Murphy. Murphy played 20 games with Boston last season, and will be in AAA Pawtucket this year. He's not a stunner of a prospect, but he's close, and he can fill in as a backup outfielder should the need arise.
By the middle of the season, the 5th outfielder will be Jacoby Ellsbury. He hit .308 with AA Portland last year, had a solid Arizona Fall League campaign, and had a very impressive Spring Training. He is our #1 prospect, and will be starting the season in Portland. Expect him to move up to Pawtucket soon. The Sox might be hesitant to use him as a bench player in 2007, because it is important for him to play every day, not just sit on the bench and play an inning or two here and there. This is why I believe they'll use Murphy in the role of 5th outfielder to start the season. But Ellsbury's got something, my friends. He's got potential to be something very, very special.