With Opening Day a mere week and change away, Red Sox fans, me included, eagerly await the announcement for who will be on the 2013 Boston Red Sox roster. Eager is a fitting word because an abundant amount of excitement has surrounded one player in particular this spring in Fort Myers, Florida: Jackie Bradley, Jr. The progression of JBJ this

Jackie Bradley, Jr. (Kelly O’Conner — www.sittingstill.net)

spring has gone a bit like this:

  1. Early January: He definitely needs another year in the Minors, specifically in Triple A. We don’t want the Sox to stunt his growth like they did with Craig Hansen. We don’t need to rush him; Ellsbury, Victorino, Gomes, and Nava/Sweeney/Kalish can handle it.
  2. January 28: Did you hear about Ryan Kalish? He is hurt and can’t make it to spring training. Maybe Bradley has a chance to impress us this spring, but he still needs at least half a season in AAA.
  3. February 20 (beginning of Spring Training): Victorino is terrible against RHP so wouldn’t it make sense to give Bradley a shot? You could use a combination of Gomes, Vic, and Bradley throughout the season based on matchups. Well that doesn’t make much sense because if he comes up he needs to be playing every day to continue his progression.
  4. March 11: Bradley goes 3-4 with a HR, 2B, and 2 RBI which bumps his average this spring up to .519. Gomes’s spot in LF is getting hotter.
  5. NOW: Bradley torrid start continues as he is hitting .444 with a .545 OBP while only striking out 5 times in 45 plate appearances. Oh, and he is fast. I think this guy needs to be on the roster. The Sox certainly can find a way to play him 5 of every 7 days.

A few weeks ago I wrote a column on if Daniel Nava was the odd man out of the 13 position players the Red Sox will take on their roster. I argued, albeit incorrectly, that he would not make the team. Note: I actually argued Ryan Sweeney would. How wrong was that? It was very wrong and Bradley was not even on my radar then. Now all signs (Fire Brand‘s own Podheiser column included) point to Nava beginning the year in Yankee Stadium. That is all fine and good because Nava is flexible, durable, and gets on base, but let’s face it, Bradley is better.

If Nava makes the squad as the 4th OF then that would leave Mike Carp as the backup 1B. With Ortiz out for the foreseeable future, it makes a lot more sense, as Podheiser alluded to; to put Nava at 1B, let Napoli DH, and then grab Bradley as your 4th OF who can then rotate in with Gomes and Victorino. That leaves Carp as the odd man out. Despite the fact that I just dismantled my February argument, I now think the above scenario is much better.

Now, I’m no expert on baseball prospects and I certainly don’t pretend to be; I leave that to Ben Carsley. Ben may disagree with me, but, COME ON, Bradley HAS to be on the roster on April 1 in Yankee Stadium. Sure he has only one full MiLB season under his belt and is only 22 years old, but his performance this spring plus the lack of excitement/production in the Red Sox outfield speaks for itself. At this point the Red Sox organization, team, and fan base need a spark. I think JBJ is that spark and here is why:

  1. He allows for more lineup flexibility without Ortiz and Stephen Drew in the lineup. Against RHP you can hit Bradley 2nd behind Ellsbury and in front of Pedroia, Napoli, and Middlebrooks. Victorino is the ideal 2 hitter, but his splits against RHP don’t lie; they speak for themselves and they are not good (.698 OPS career).
  2. He will be a weapon off the bench when he is not in the lineup. I assume if Bradley is on the roster against the Yankees a few Monday’s from now he won’t be in the lineup against LHP CC Sabathia. However, he can pinch run (24 SB in 2012), could be a defensive replacement for Gomes, and can pinch hit for Victorino when the Yankees bring in a RHP.
  3. He will hit for a higher average than Victorino or Gomes. That is just a fact.
  4. He has the “cool” factor. Yeah. Think Andrew McCutchen, Troy Tulowitzki cool.
  5. He is hitting .444 right now in Spring Training. Sure, Spring stats don’t count for much and no one places too much stock in them, but anytime someone hits .444 for a month people need to take notice.

Will Bradley make the Opening Day roster? Red Sox Nation eagerly awaits the decision.

Categories: 2013 Boston Red Sox Andrew McCutchen Boston Red Sox Daniel Nava David Ortiz Jackie Bradley Jackie Bradley Jr. Mike Carp Mike Napoli Ryan Kalish Ryan Sweeney Shane Victorino Stephen Drew Troy Tulowitzki

I'm a 2011 college graduate from Sewanee: The University of the South where I played Division III baseball for four years. I have lived in Atlanta, Georgia for my entire life, but, thankfully, was raised a Sox, Pats, and Celtics fan. As my friends and family can attest, I have obsessed over sports for the duration of my life so I am justifiably excited to write about my favorite team. The highlight of my childhood was when John Smoltz delivered a Pizza Hut pizza to my house when I was 10. Follow @joe_t_reilly

11 Responses to “The Case For Jackie Bradley, Jr.” Subscribe

  1. Gerry March 23, 2013 at 12:51 PM #

    Steady Eddie Nava has earned his spot and may actually be better in LF, AT THIS POINT, than JBJ who has still not faced fully warmed up MLB pitching. Nor do we want to lose Carp's potential at Fenway until he shows what he can or can't do after being freed from the Dome, and who is the likely one to get bumped off the 40-man for JBJ. Let the excitement of PD, WMB, Iggy, Nap, Gomes, Tazawa, Hanrahan, Uehara and rebounding Lester, Buch, Lackey, Bailey carry the fanbase and meda for a couple of months until JBJ gets his developmental time in at AAA.

    • Joe Reilly March 25, 2013 at 1:11 PM #

      Gerry, some great points and I agree with many of them. Losing Carp's potential would be a risk especially with the power he possesses. I just think JBJ brings more to the lineup on a daily basis than Carp, Nava, or anyone else in competition. However, delayed gratification is the name of the game sometimes in professional baseball so I'd be fine either way.

  2. Izzy March 23, 2013 at 3:02 PM #

    If we wait 11 days, we'll get to keep him for an extra year. It makes no sense to lose a year for 11 days when we have someone like Nava (He was hitting .300 with a .400+ OBP last year before getting a cyst on his wrist) who's more than capable of filling in.

    • Joe Reilly March 25, 2013 at 1:14 PM #

      Izzy, good point on the extra year. I did know that but did not mention it because I don't think Sox ownership is really concerned with that extra year at this point. Also, if he is good enough I'm sure we would try and resign him prior to his deal expiring. Then again, guess who his agent it? Scott Boras.

  3. djr March 23, 2013 at 10:54 PM #

    I agree with Izzy. It is absurd that to me that anyone is discussing bringing him up first thing. If he is ready April first, he'll be ready in the middle/end of April or in May.

  4. rjs March 25, 2013 at 1:15 AM #

    Perhaps the worst article I have ever read on fbal. "COME ON, Bradley HAS to be on the roster" "Cool factor"? Painfully dumb.

    • Joe Reilly March 25, 2013 at 1:17 PM #

      Thanks for the comment, rjs. The "cool factor" point was more of comedic relief than anything else. Perhaps not professional, but an attempt to find humor in the situation.

    • LackeysDrinkinAgain March 25, 2013 at 1:45 PM #

      Maybe the term "cool factor" can be misconstrued as nonprofessional, but to call that painfully dumb is ignorant. Part of the appeal of sports is supporting a team of likable guys. With their on-field play aside, I despised this most recent Sox team. It was a bunch of premadonna punks that I hated seeing in the uniform, making the entire experience miserable.
      So why is it painfully dumb to want a guy on the club that really WANTS to be there? I mean he obviously has the talent, so why not make this team a little more likeable. Sure its not the most important thing in the world but I sure as hell want to watch someone out there who wants to win as badly as I want them to.
      Oh and God forbid his attitude and work ethic rub off on some of the other guys in the clubhouse…

  5. sbr17 March 25, 2013 at 1:20 PM #

    Whether JBJ deserves to be on the roster is something that is definitely debatable. His "torrid start" makes him a candidate, there is no denying that. I'm sure Bradley would love to be on the roster, and I bet his confidence is sky high, so why say no when the Sox roster has them a projected 4th in the AL East by many accounts? In short, they could use the help.

    rjs, obviously you are a little outdated. Cool factor exists. Tulowitzki, McCutchen, even guys like Khalil Greene draw the fans in simply because they look cool, have style and are young. I myself am captivated by JBJ and love to see what he can do. Tough to separate that emotion, and anyone hitting .444 turns heads.

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