YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and, now that the Bobby & Larry Circus has left town, you are able to function as a real General Manager.
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and you pulled off the biggest heist in franchise history, dumping Cry Baby Beckett, DL Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez and their outrageous salaries on the Dodgers, who were not improving the team so much as obtaining stars for their cable programming.
[SEE: “Ben, finally– it’s your turn to drive, Cherington takes the wheel in Boston,” Feb 22nd, 2013]
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and you stole Alan Webster, who looks like a solid #3 and maybe #2 rotation starter and, if he can bounce back after TJ surgery and, if Rubby [RU-BEE] de la Rosa [RHP] develops consistent command and control you have committed Grand Theft Pedro.
Although in his short career in MLB did not impress the Dodgers: 4-5, 1.82 K/W ratio, 1.42 WHIP, his ceiling could be as high as the “Next Pedro Martinez,” who the Dodgers traded away to the Montreal Expos in 1994, who then dealt him to the Red Sox in 1998, where in 1,383.2 innings he won 117 and lost just 37 for a .760 W% and miniscule ERA of 2.52 in his 7-year stint.
Baseball America projects Rubby [RU-BEE] de la Rosaas as the closer for your “Next Great Red Sox Team,” one that will be essentially home-grown, supplemented with veterans from other teams, and will be competitive for the next decade.
If you decide to put the “X-Man” at 1b, imagine this All-Homegrown Red Sox team taking the field at Fenway in 2014-2015:
C Ryan Lavarnway
1b Xander Bogaerts
2b Dustin Pedroia
SS Deven Marrero
3b Will Middlebrooks
LF Brandon Jacobs
CF Jackie Bradley
RF Juan Carlos Linares
DH Brad Brentz
SP Allen Webster
SP Matt Barnes
SP Jon Lester
SP Clay Buchholz
SP Drake Britton
CL Rubby “Dobby” de la Rosa
RP Anthony Ranaudo, RP Brian Johnson, RP Miguel Celestino, RP Brandon Workman
Jered Saltalmacchia [C/DH], Blake Swihart [C]
[That’s 26 roster slots and 14 to fill from the outside via FA and trades.]
But…there always seems to be a but with any “perfect” plan.
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and your future CF, the one Earl Nash calls “the Other Jackie,” may be precociously prepared to start for this year’s team.
Every time one of the OFs on the current roster gets injured, there is a chorus of “office chair GMs” and radio call-in hosts who want you to bring Jackie up from the minors to start his MLB career.
Then the pundits and experts chime in with the old chestnut: bring him up too early and you will ruin his confidence and his career. And, there’s the “He can’t get the ABs he needs sitting on the bench with the Red Sox.”
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and this is the happiest “problem” you have faced in you short career as Boston’s GM, but you must decide what to do with Jackie Bradley.
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and you were confident that the team that you cobbled together for 2013 would, at least, be “competitive” maybe even have a shot at the Wild Card slot. You may tell the media that you knew this team had a real chance to finish first in the AL East, but, over dinner with your wife, you say that you even surprised yourself with their success.
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and you have avoided Larry, but you have talked about Bradley with your manager John Farrell; he’s a guy you know and you respect his analysis. You have also consulted with Mike Hazen, Brian O’Halloran, Allard Baird, Dave Finley, Ed Bane, and Jared Banner.
You are willing to take the risk and responsibility to push the “ICE” or “NO ICE” button, but you are prudent, some might say “cautious,” but you would use the term “disciplined,” when making a big decision. You will take the time to hear out everyone’s analysis to work toward a general consensus.
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and today you have a general outline of how you will proceed with Jackie Bradley.
You are personally committed to you signature program, the “Next Great Red Sox Team” and your personal stamp is that it will be essentially a home-grown team and will be competitive for the next decade, or longer.
You are also personally committed to Jackie Bradley as the superstar player that you developed and you want to be in the front row, smiling [but not gloating] as he makes his Hall of Fame induction speech.
You know that, as of May 8th, Jackie will have been in the minor leagues for 20 days this season, which ensures that he will not become a free agent after 2018.
If the currently over-achieving “1967 Impossible Dream v.2 Team” needs a “spark” during the last weeks of this season, you would consider bringing Jackie up to The Show; you would also want to place him on your Post-season Playoffs roster.
After a full season of ABs in the minors, Jackie will be primed to bring his five tools to the Red Sox late in 2013 and you trust Farrell to use Bradley appropriately; put Jackie into situations that will maximize his chances to succeed.
- Gomes has hit a double and is standing, gasping for air on second. You need this run to win the final game of this playoff round; so, Farrell sends Bradley out to run for Gasping Gomes.
- Gomes is having a rough day at the plate; it’s the top of the 9th in a tie game and the Rays have RHP Joel Peralta on the bump. Gomes is barely batting .200 career against righties and has below average speed. Farrell send left-batting Jackie to pinch hit; if he gets a walk or a single, he will likely move into scoring position with a steal.
- Ellsbury, just as you were in the final stages of a deal to trade him, has had to beg off playing with a minor injury. The Rays are starting RHP Roberto Hernandez, so Farrell starts Jackie in CF.
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and you have arrived at a disciplined plan for how to handle your future Franchise player:
Bradley stays in the minors until late in the season.
If the Sox are out of the Post-season hunt, he gets a September call-up and starts in the OF.
If the Sox are in the hunt, he gets put on the Playoff roster and you trust Farrell to plug him in appropriately.
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and your “Bridge to Nowhere” team for 2013 is making a run for Post-season, the prospects for an all homegrown “Next Great Red Sox Team” are blossoming, you have made your decision about your future Hall of Fame outfielder, Jackie Bradley.
YOU’RE BEN CHERINGTON and, with the door closed, looking out the window of your ancient office, the pathetic fallacy of literature provides nothing but blue skies–as far as you can see.
Willie Nelson is crooning on the glial stage of your Primary auditory cortex:
Blue skies smilin’ at me…Nothin’ but blue skies do I see…
Blue days, all of them gone… Nothin’ but blue skies from now on…
All alone, you allow yourself to ignore discipline and savor the sin of salaciously, secretly–gloating.