Some really short-sighted advice on Jackie Bradley: keep him and start him. We need hitters.
With so much speculation about Bradley’s need for experience and what the future salary implications will be, I thought it was time for some here-and-now thinking. Who in this line-up is currently hitting consistently? Ortiz? Pedroia? Ellsbury? Middlebrooks? Not so much. But Bradley? Oh yeah.
In a week, someone will need to get on base and score runs. Who has been doing that this spring? Bradley. The Sox will need some potent left-handed batters. Anyone answering that description in camp this spring? Oh yeah, Bradley!
We know this is a re-building year, so why not bring up players with a future with the Sox? Why not play the hot hand? Maybe he won’t be ready, but then someone has to move once Ortiz comes off the disabled list. That would be the moment of truth for Jackie Bradley. By then he will be indispensable or a work in progress.
Last spring I made the same plea for my favorite underdog: Pedro Ciriaco. The Sox waited till mid-season to bring him up, and he instantly delivered. He hit, he ran, he played the whole infield. Why didn’t that merit coming up in April with the major league team? I can tell you why. There was this veteran free agent infielder, who seemed like a sure thing. He was gone in July.
The Red Sox treat rookies like vintage wine. They will play no prospect before his time. I don’t subscribe to the vintner theory of developing ball players. You should play them to see if it is time. Middlebrooks was not thought to be ready for the big leagues. Then they had to play him to replace Youkilis at third. Whaddya know? The guy could hit!
With the hitters sputtering out of the gate, the Red Sox will need speed, defense and pitching to win games in April. Bradley can supply two of those and who knows? Maybe the guy can hit! Let’s find out if it is his time.
The latest insult to Pedro Ciriaco is the signing of the fragile Stephen Drew. One Drew drawing disability on the Red Sox payroll was not enough, they had to hire his brother. Yes, J.D. Drew is now only a memory, but how soon we forget! The reputation of the Drews is that they are talented hitters and fielders when they are healthy, but how fragile that health!
I have campaigned for the elevation of Pedro Ciriaco, since his dazzling performance at Spring Training, 2012. He was a terror on the basepaths, a skilled bunter, and a clutch hitter, traits in short supply on the current Red Sox roster. Only Ellsbury can wreak as much havoc on base, and Ellsbury cannot bunt with consistency. So there is much to like in this hustling infielder.
So his numbers tailed off in September. Who on the Red Sox was playing well in September? If there is a curse lingering on the Red Sox, it is sordid September, the month of disappointments. Lift this curse and everyone will be playing better.
If there is a hesitation about Ciriaco, it is his work in the field. The Red Sox have a perfect late-inning replacement with Jose Iglesias, who needs some seasoning as a hitter. Both players could feed on each other’s strengths if they played together. Why the Red Sox will not trust Ciriaco as a starting position player mystifies me.
If the Sox let Ciriaco go, they will live to regret it. He will come back to torment their catchers stealing bases and bedevil their third baseman with his bunts. Give this young man a job! He is an offensive weapon that is scarce on this team. Let him play!