Jeff Passan on D&C: ‘Jackie Bradley is not the savior’
|04.01.13 at 9:47 am ET|
The big story this spring has been Jackie Bradley Jr., who is scheduled to start in left field for Monday’s opener. Passan cautions Sox fans to be careful about their expectations for Bradley.
“I think Bradley has been oversold, frankly, as a super-duper-star when the talent is just not quite there for that,” Passan said. “But I think he’s going to be a really good everyday player. I just hope he doesn’t fall victim to the media hype that can ensconce a player in Boston and New York when he arrives to great fanfare as the savior. Jackie Bradley is not the savior. Everyone needs to get that through their head: Jackie Bradley is not the savior. He is not going to turn this team from a 75-win team into an 85-win team.
“He may be a solid player his first year, and I think he’s going to be a good player the rest of the time, mainly because of his defense in center field. But the bat’s not going to light anything on fire. He’s not hitting .417 this season. He’s not Teddy Ballgame 2.0. We’re not seeing the emergence of a superstar here. We’re seeing a team that has some injuries, and the only reason that the kid’s here is because of those.”
Comparing Bradley to Jacoby Ellsbury, Passan said Ellsbury has more talent but Bradley might be more durable.
“I don’t think he’s Ellsbury. I don’t think he’s got the speed,” Passan said. “The difference, though, is Bradley may be able to stay healthy. And there’s a lot of value in staying healthy. So, if he can stay healthy and play at 90 percent of Ellsbury, I’d take a regular 155, 160 games at 90 percent of Ellsbury rather than what you can potentially get from Ellsbury but don’t because he’s hurt too much.”
Looking at the Red Sox’ offseason acquisitions, Passan categorized the changes as “pretty neutral.”
“What [Mike] Napoli can be, I think, is the sort of thing that they need,” Passan said. “I thought they overpaid for [Jonny] Gomes — giving two years to a guy who’s barely had major league contracts in the past I thought was an overpay. [Shane] Victorino was arguably the worst free agent deal of the offseason. I like Shane Victorino, I like what he brings to the club. The production just is not commensurate with the dollars right now.
“[Joel] Hanrahan, look, they have enough relievers where they could have gone — whether it’s Andrew Bailey, whether it’s [Junichi] Tazawa — whoever it is, they could have gotten a closer from within. But I don’t know that they gave up a whole lot in that deal, so that one didn’t make me too mad.
“[Ryan] Dempster — ultimately you see what Kyle Lohse got from Milwaukee, with the Brewers being patient and waiting it out; of course the Red Sox couldn’t have seen that happening. But Dempster at [$]13 million, it’s only a two-year commitment. So, I don’t mind that too much.
“By and large I don’t think that the moves make this team a contender this year. I don’t know if they were intended to sort of tide them over until these kids came or to instantaneously turn them around. If it’s the latter, I don’t think it’s working.”
On where he predicts the Red Sox and Yankees to finish in the American League East: “I have Yankees fourth, Red Sox fifth. And both of them aren’t going to be terrible. You’re not going to have a 69-win Red Sox team like last year. But I still don’t think the Red Sox crack .500 this year. I think I have the Yankees at .500 on the dot. But I could absolutely see those two flip-flopping. It’s going to be a weird year. It’s going to be a backward year.”
On the Yankees having MLB’s highest payroll by far yet fielding a team that is not projected to be very successful: “This is like the reckoning for the Yankees. We have seen this coming for a long time now. The hope in New York was that they were going to be able to develop enough prospects to be able to deal with this. That hasn’t happened. Because they don’t have those reinforcements from within and because the free agent market is changing these days ‘¦ because of those changing dynamics, if affects the way the Yankees do business. I know they’re trying to get under [$]189 [million] for next year. That’s all well and good, but it’s going to be a weird-looking Yankees team when all of these core guys are gone.”
On the effect of the manager on a team: “All you want from your manager is stability. ‘¦ When you have a bad boss, you don’t want to go to work. When you don’t want to go to work and you have to go to work, you have a bad attitude about it, you may not do as much, you may not be as productive. There’s pride on the line, there’s money on the line — I get all of those things. But the toxicity there last year was venomous. And it was a disastrous situation, like you said, from the beginning of the year. And it got no better, and it only got worse.”
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