This is the most interesting position “battle” coming out of Boston Red Sox spring training this year. The departure of star Jacoby Ellsbury to the New York Yankees (I just vomited in my mouth.. a lot) leaves a giant question mark in center field. I am hoping that they use the question mark design for the outfield grass on opening day. A former prodigy and a current rising star are going head-to-head to see who will be the Sox opening day starter in 2014. Let’s hear a couple of opinions about the fight for center field at Fenway Park:
At times Jackie Bradley Jr. has shown flashes of what kind of hitter he can be. He started off Spring Training last winter like his house was on fire. Unfortunately this didn’t last long once the regular season began. He looked uncomfortable at the plate at times, swinging at pitches he wouldn’t normally swing at. Once he becomes comfortable in the big leagues he should be a solid hitter. It isn’t unreasonable to expect him to hit .280 with 10-12 HRs at some point going forward.
One thing that isn’t fair to Jackie is to compare him with Ellsbury. They are two very different players with completely different skill sets. Ellsbury is a very good lead-off hitter that uses his speed in every part of his game. Jackie, though not a slow runner by any means, doesn’t rely solely on whatever speed he has to play his game.
Defensively Jackie is already one of the best fielders in baseball. He is technically sound, can read the ball off the bat with precision and always takes the best path to the ball with little error in judgment. He also possesses a far better throwing arm than that of Jacoby.
The Grady Sizemore deal was a low risk, potential high reward, insurance signing for the Sox. I don’t think anyone knows what to expect from Grady as he’s been out of baseball for three years and hasn’t played full time duties in six years. When healthy he was a more dynamic player than Ellsbury with far greater power. The question is, can he stay healthy for any length of time and find his game after a long layoff?
I was in Europe on vacation when I heard that Ellsbury signed with the Yankees. I didn’t sleep so well that night. I know they gave him too much money and that in the long run, it was probably the right move to let him walk. However, I don’t know if I can stomach the thought of him wearing the pinstripes. But it’s time to move onto the Jackie Bradley Jr. chapter…
Or is it?
Grady Sizemore will be given every opportunity to try and win the starting center field job. Bradley may not be ready from an offensive standpoint, and we already know how much John Farrell loves using some kind of platoon. If Sizemore has a respectable spring, I see him out there on opening day, with Bradley in the minors waiting for the inevitable Sizemore injury. However, if Sizemore does win the job, I do see off-days in his future with Shane Victorino (if healthy) or more likely, Daniel Nava, taking over to give Sizemore a rest.
Bradley needs to work on his plate discipline because the team wants him to leadoff eventually. His style of play isn’t conducive to being a number eight hitter in this lineup. Sizemore, when he is on the field for long stretches, gets on base especially relative to his batting average. It will be interesting to see how Bradley reacts if he isn’t the starter out of the gate, but I have faith that there isn’t a wrong decision with this position. But for argument’s sake, I think Sizemore will win the job and do better than most pessimists think. This should be very interesting to watch as the flowers bloom down in Florida.
Who do you think wins the starting job? Let us know at our twitter account: @CandCFansided