I love this guy. He’s signed a baseball for me and even had a conversation with me on two separate occasions. He’s soft-spoken and he handles himself very well. At one time, he was considered the second best prospect in the Red Sox system and one of the best in baseball. Defense? He’s a star. You won’t get a ball by this guy. But offensively? If you put the ball on a tee, he would likely find a way to strikeout.
What do the Red Sox do? Trade him? Demote him? Stick with him? We aren’t contending, so there’s plenty of time to figure it out, right? Not necessarily.
The season is quickly winding down. The Red Sox are in evaluation stages for next season. They already made a huge mistake by letting unproven players take the reigns at primary positions to start the year (Bogaerts, Bradley, Sizemore). Bogaerts is a whole other issue, but he’s only 21 so I’m not even beginning to worry about his struggles. But an everyday center fielder is supposed to be productive on both sides of the ball, especially one playing for the Boston Red Sox. Jackie has had this entire season to show he can do both. He excels on the defensive side, but he implodes on the offensive one. What to do?
If Jackie Bradley Jr. can’t prove in the final few weeks he can hit a baseball at the major league level, I would demote him. That would surely hurt his confidence, but it would give him more time to time up his swing and get back to hitting like we all hoped he could (he was a star at South Carolina, mind you. And he hit well all the way up until his major league season). If the Red Sox are looking to contend next year, like we all assume they are, they can’t have an unproven player manning center field everyday. What I would do is give Jackie ample playing time for the remainder of the year. Let him play every single game. Because it’s nothing more than a tryout for next year at this point. Sure, we have other guys that could get looks out there like Mookie, but JBJ was so highly regarded that I think he deserves one last chance to show why. One more chance, Jackie. After that, I’d turn in my JBJ jersey for whoever is starting in center field next season. As always, thanks for reading. Go Sox!