to get upset over whether or not 22 year old jackie bradley jr. is on the opening day roster is an excercise in futility. personnel decisions having to do with logistics, money, options, player attitude, personalities, incentives, off the field behavior, age, projections for the future, organizational goals, etc. are made all the time. whether these are arbitrary or part of a well thought out institutional philosophy it's naive to think that all talent evaluations are based solely on who is perfroming better at that moment. spring training is hardly the end all and be all in terms of talent prognostication. don't think anyone in the organization is questioning whether bradley is playing well and could be an asset this year and for a long time in the future. what difference does it make if he spends a few weeks (or even months) in the minors? so what if they try to manipulate when the clock starts ticking. this team is not on the verge of competting for a championship and he's never even played in triple A. besides, we are not talking about a kid who is going to come in and hit 35 home runs and assuming ellsbury is okay they already have two similar types in the outfield right now. one way or another his perfromance and talent will dictate his presence on the big club - whether that is right now, two weeks or two months from now, or next year, matters very little.
in terms of the personnel decisions from the organization, one can certainly argue they overpaid for victorino, or that dempster was the wrong choice, or that they're counting on gomes to be a starting outfielder and should have brought in ross or someone better suited to play everyday, but at least it feels now as if there is an actual plan (however flawed that might be). one can bemoan drew's signing and say they overpaid there too, but on the other hand there is a back-up plan in place in case iglesias fails to hit his weight moving forward. and if they did overpay by a few million, it wasn'tlikethere was no market for drew at 5-7 per, and again, what difference does it make?
clearly, they wanted 1-3 year deals to allow lackey's deal to run, give bradley/de la rossa/ barnes/webster/brentz/bogaerts/owens a window to mature, (likely) move on from ellsbury, and hold down the fort as they continue to bring in new, young talent. they have a modest stockpile of relievers (fewer right now because of injuries) who could help with trades, and some other young positional players in the minors (at 3b/c/of/ss) who could also potentially be used in deals to bring in players to bolster depth where they are weakest (i.e. first base). like a lot of teams, the rules have led the sox to not want to pursue players (ala laroche and the still unsigned kyle lohse) who require gving up high draft picks. so they went with the next best choices in their minds. personally, i would have preferred both over napoli and dempster if the deals were short term.
not saying any of this is working or will work, and this team will most likely fight to be .500 this year (and will probably be much worse if they don't get healthy), but there are reasons for optimism now, where less than a year ago there seemed to be very few. one of the advanatges to being a big market, big budget team (given baseball's asinine no salarly cap policy) is that you can afford to make mistakes with free agents (like dempster/gomes/napoli/victorino/drew) providing you don't get locked into huge extended contracts you cannot escape from. if victorino were to be a complete bust that contract could hurt them some, but the rest are not going to make a dent in their progress either way. one can argue hamilton was the move to make, but not getting caught in huge, long term contracts at least provides a measure of flexibility and a non-reliance on a handful of players to dictate your future. when it coms to those guys, you better bet right.