Johnny Carey of CBS Boston asks: Are The Red Sox asking too much of Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo?
DING DING DING!!!
Carey writes an excellent piece about the question marks surrounding The Sox starting left and center fielders, respectively.
I’m wondering whether or not both of these guys are fully ready to contribute to a supposed contender in 2016. We all know Bradley’s August was superb, where just about every pitch thrown to him was drilled into the gap or up the middle. He hit .354! We also tend to forget that he regressed exponentially in September and October, where his average was a measly .216. Gross. The sad thing is that Bradley’s lacking offense is what we’ve grown to expect. It offsets his truly stellar outfield defense. Look, he’s never going to be Mike Trout or Ken Griffey Jr. at the plate, but if he can even hit .250, I’d be happy.
If Bradley continues to struggle hitting at the major league level, The Red Sox will be kicking themselves for not making a play for Dexter Fowler or Austin Jackson. I’ve said this before, but for the record, I don’t mean to be critical of Jackie, and I hope he proves me wrong. I love watching him play center, and he had me giddy as a school girl in August when he was hitting everything thrown to him.
Rusney Castillo is an interesting case. The Red Sox bid heavily on him in the summer of 2014, beating out The Detroit Tigers (Dombrowski‘s guys, don’t forget), for his services. In Cuba, Castillo drew comparisons to Jacoby Ellsbury, Yasiel Puig and Brett Gardner, but in 90 games in his major league career, he’s looked more like Jackie Bradley, to be honest. The raw power is there, as is the solid defense, but due to a bevy of injuries and limited playing time, Castillo’s speed and on-base skills haven’t really come yet. He’s also 28… A lot of pundits believe that this is the best we’re going to get from The Wizard of Ruz. (That’s a terrible play on words and I regret saying it more than you regret seeing it).
My message is to stop panicking for now. The starting left field job is now Castillo’s to lose. We’ll see what he can do for a full season, and see if that raw talent can evolve into something more complete. Let’s hope so, because he’s owed a lot of money, and it would be pretty hard to trade him if he’s God awful… No, but really though, I think he’s going to be a solid player. Maybe even a great one.
Are these guys busts yet? Absolutely not. That being said, there’s a ton of pressure on The Red Sox this year, and in order to live up to their lofty expectations, all of their guys need to play like winners. I believe Bradley and Castillo are capable of doing that, but it’s not a question of “can they?”, it’s more like “will they?”