This winter, the Boston Red Sox signed Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes to multi-year free agent contracts, expecting them to anchor the Boston outfield this year and keep the seats warm for top prospects Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bryce Brentz next spring.
Victorino was also viewed as insurance for the Red Sox if Jacoby Ellsbury left Boston after this season and hit free agency or if he is moved at the July 31st trade deadline.
The Red Sox need to seriously consider using Gomes and Victorino in almost a straight platoon with one of them spelling top prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. against tough left-handed pitchers. Victorino has the ability to switch hit, allowing for a move like this to be done.
Boston has $49 million reasons not to do this, but it will go a long way towards showing Red Sox fans how the front office views this season.
Gomes is considered to be a solid, veteran clubhouse influence that crushes left-handed pitching. That description aptly describes Victorino as well. Both players would likely be professional enough to handle this.
Red Sox’ manager John Farrell has stated some apprehension about keeping a prospect like Bradley Jr. at the major league level if playing time might be a concern.
Given the respective strengths and weaknesses of both veteran players, Boston should have no problem finding at-bats for all three players while gradually breaking the 22-year-old Bradley Jr. into majors.
Adding the energy and spark of a younger player like Bradley Jr. will take on added significance given the fact that in looking at the Red Sox likely Opening Day lineup, only Will Middlebrooks and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will end the 2013 season under the age of 30.
The other hidden aspect of keeping Bradley Jr. at the major league level is the fact the Red Sox would have the ability to have excellent late game outfield defense, something that would aid the Red Sox bullpen. Victorino, Ellsbury and Bradley Jr. would cover a ton of real estate in Fenway and larger road parks.
Farrell has already praised Bradley Jr.’s outfield defense and positioning.
Sometimes prospects come faster than expected; sometimes a timetable that looked good in November doesn’t look quite as good in March. The Red Sox limited their flexibility by giving out big deals, but hopefully Boston will still take the best 25 players north to Fenway.
The Red Sox are getting old. Not New York Yankees old, but it is something that they need to address soon.
Jon can be reached:
Google Plus: Jonathan Cullen