The Red Sox need to look to the future and not the present. Shane Victorino is fast approaching the end of a remarkable career. His contract expires after this season and it appears his legs have also expired.
Daniel Nava is a perpetual feel good story, but his limitations are clear to anyone who observes his outfield play. There is no Gold Glove in his future, but the potential for an Iron Glove does exist. Nava’s career roller coaster and age, limit his long-term and short-term as an asset to the Red Sox.
Jackie Bradley has failed with Boston on two occasions and it can be three if one adds in his recent 0-11 run before being sent down I-95 to Pawtucket.
Bradley has never been a “hitter” in the high minors. In Portland the average was .271 in 2012 and that was followed by a .275 in Pawtucket in 2013 after a rather ignominious start with the Red Sox in 2013. The MLB failure continued in 2014 and Bradley failed to respond when demoted (again) to Pawtucket.
In the 2013-14 segment Bradley was easily a top 50 prospect within the various scouting profiles. What happened is baffling to the Red Sox, who pictured Bradley as heir apparent to Jacoby Ellsbury. Attempts to solve the dilemma of why Bradley was under the Mendoza Line never produced tangible results until 2015, albeit with Pawtucket.
I’ll leave out the glove. Bradley is one of the best I have ever seen in the field. If he could only start to hit?
Bradley is hitting – finally. At Pawtucket Bradley is slashing .349/.406/.500 and has hit consistently all season. The obvious is the strikeouts are down and the contact is up. This is not one or two hot streaks inflating the overall numbers, but consistently good at bats and that means decision time for the Red Sox and the 25-year-old Bradley. Play him.
Get an outfield rotation that gets Bradley into a five game a week cycle. With David Ortiz floundering there is always the possibility of Hanley Ramirez picking up some DH time. Brock Holt is a multi-purpose who can provide adequate support as a spare outfielder when he is not consigned to infield duty. The Red Sox have the coverage and a defensive unit of Bradley, Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo would certainly invigorate pitching confidence on balls hit out of the infield.
The Red Sox have an opportunity to finally discover if Bradley can reach the potential that was professed back in the early stages of his career. The Red Sox are stalled and within their demise is the opportunity to discover just how certain player’s project for the future of the franchise. Bradley can have his last Boston shot.
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