Marc Normandin made a convincing case on the Over the Monster podcast today that putting Jackie Bradley Jr. on the Opening Day roster would not cause the seas neither to go dry nor boil, despite the hang-wringing of those including yours truly. I urge you to listen. The crux of the argument is that Bradley can always do an end run around his service time requirement, and there have been cases as recently as last year, with Mike Trout, where keeping a player in the minors for service time reasons may have cost a team a playoff berth — that is, when David Ortiz comes back (Ortiz’ absence having indirectly created the space for Bradley in the first place), if Bradley is good enough to keep in the majors even then, well, then, let the guy play. There was some joking about Bradley signing an “Evan Longoria contract” within a couple weeks of being called up, which I’d love, but they Bradley is a Scott Boras client, and Boras’s clients don’t often sign those. Still, dare to dream, you know?
The other factor is defense, which — let’s be serious — wouldn’t be a big deal to bite the bullet on for nine games, but Bradley’s is apparently outstanding, and would be an upgrade from anyone they could dredge up. None of this made any sense to Matt Kory, who was shocked to the core that this is a serious possibility. At this point with this Red Sox team, this is such a good problem to have that I can’t get too worked up about it anymore. I’m with Normandin, If he plays, he plays. The team plays most of the first month at home, and it would be easy to sneak him back down to AAA to get his time once they hit the road. And if he’s just *that* good, Jeremy Lin-style? You don’t keep that lightning in a bottle. The real math is: 9 games now or 20 days later, and the value over replacement production Bradley provides in 9 games now versus however many later. This is probably close, and in favor of starting him later even given the rash of injuries now, but the Sox have a problem now to which he’s the solution: The question that’s unknowable is whether or not they ultimately care about the service time. Kory’s frustration presupposes that they don’t. I have no idea of knowing whether they do or not. If Bradley starts on Monday the Sox aren’t fucked. They’re fine.
And if that didn’t convince you, well, check this out, from Buster Olney via OTM again:
Player carries the ‘it’ factor. Presidential presence to game. Regal. However, the player has been the most popular man in Columbia, S.C. from the 1st day he walked on campus and he had me glued to the TV last year watching the College World Series. Mesmerizing defender. Jaw-dropping defensive skills. Patrols CF with a determined grace, with flare. Would have happily paid good money just to watch his pregame batting practice and infield. Acrobatic and skilled. Catches every ball with flare. Covers ground like a gladiator. Plus handles the glove in CF like Omar Vizquelwould in the infield. Amazing defensive skills. Innate ability to hawk the diamond. Better defender in center field than majority of major leaguers right now& [You] can’t teach the things this kid can do defensively. Made the parallel play coming directly in on a ball ala 1998 Andruw Jones. Sick defender.
The dude was glued to a television. That’s a lot of fumes. They worked.