Re: A Realistic View at 2013: Part II
posted at 3/31/2013 2:04 PM EDT
Final positional player reviews...outfielders. A starting outfield of Bradley, Ellsbury and Victorino could well be the best defensive outfield in MLB. Whether or not Victorino can hit enough for a corner outfielder remains to be seen, but any outfield that features three centerfielders can really run balls down.
Bradley Jr....have to start with the talk of the camp; quite simply he has been the best player on the team this spring! If he does stay in AAA to start the season (to protect his free-agent clock) or does it after Ortiz returns, once here for good he will be a fan-favorite for years to come. He hits the ball hard with gap power. He has great plate discipline but he will strike out as most hitters who work counts will do. He will hit more home runs on the road than at fenway be he will tattoo the wall for doubles. He hits lefties as well as righties. It seems a waste to play him in left in Fenway but he probably doesn't yet have the cache to displace eight-digit-dollar outfielders yet. When Ellsbury came up I remember thinking we have never had a player like him in my memory. Bradley Jr. looks to be everything I thought Ellsbury would become and then some. Before his days are done he will win batting titles and gold gloves and maybe grow into 15-20 HR per year power, perfect in the leadoff or three hole in your lineup. And watching him break on balls in the outfield is a joy. He did have a couple errors in ST so there is still some growing and better concentration needed.
Ellsbury...He woke up about ten days ago and started playing like the guy he should be, getting on base, hitting to left, turning singles into doubles and playing a great center field. I can't help but think he's gone after this year (Bradley's maturity makes it even more certain) but what a joy it would be to have both him and Bradley roaming the outfield and top of the order for years to come. His arm is still awful and he is not attempting too many steals, but I think he'll run more once the bell rings on Monday. As for his power, I think he's almost more effective in this lineup with 12-15 homers and a higher OBP. But homers to right at Jet Blue are rare indeed as the winds howl in so the park plays even longer than the longest RF in the AL.
Victorino...didn't see as much of him as I would have liked because of the WBC but what I did see warrants a mixed review. Defensively he's very good; tracks balls very well, good speed still and he has a very good and accurate arm. Offensively he is two very different hitters and I'm not sure if this has always been the case or not. Right-handed he drives the ball and will wear out the wall and hit a few bombs over it, but left-handed he is a slap hitter trying to beat out infield hits to the ledt side; at least that's what I've seen this spring. He's an outstanding base runner with good speed still and seems like a guy who enjoys the game and plays hard all the time.
Gomes...has hit with much more consistency than I expected. Obviously he has power but he has shown a willingness to slap singles to right in RBI situations if he gets pitched away. He has also been running on hit-and-runs and is a much better baserunner than I thought. He is probably best suited for DH and will get most of his time there before Ortiz is ready, but will put up pretty big HR and RBI numbers if gets 400 or more ABs. His defense is poor at best; he can be hidden in left at home but in bigger ballparks he will be a liability.
Nava...It's hard not to like this kid. He's had a good spring, even hitting right-handed better than I expected. He has become an adequate outfielder, best suited for left field, and the way he grinds out at bats could be a valuable pinch-hitter for Iglesias if we are behind late. He was also impressive in limited time filling in for Napoli at first. Gotta love a guy who seems as if he'd do anything to help the team. Not for nothing, but I met him in person and he was very kind and took time to talk to my wheel-chair bound father-in-law. A good way to win points with me.
Carp...as I wrote on the infielder review I don't know how he made the team. He hasn't hit, he's a weak outfielder at best and Sweeney, who also didn't hit, is a much better outfielder and wouldn't have cost us any compensation to Seattle. Maybe Carp is only here while Ortiz recuperates??
Others...Of the kids I saw, Linares has some pop and a strong arm but is slow-footed and not much of a defender. Hazelbaker looks like the best all round outfielder of the group. I never saw Brentz, unfortunately. Of the other invitees, Maier was a solid player but only factors in as deep depth and is not young enough to be a prospect anymore. Among the very young, a guy named Bermudez (sp?) was pretty impressive in limited time.
Is this a playoff-bound outfield? Defensively with Ells between Bradley and Victorino it is. But offensively where are the home runs going to come from? Gomes will hit more than 20 if he gets 400 ABs. The other three may not hit 20 between them. Both Bradley and Ellsbury are capable of hitting .300 and getting on base and making things happen. Victorino is a wild-card. If he can get close to his old Philly production then this outfield can contend.