When the Boston Red Sox let Jacoby Ellsbury walk away without so much as making an offer to him, they had a plan that had been in place for at least the last couple of years. Boston knew that Jackie Bradley was waiting in the wings and would be primed to take over that position once Ellsbury left. That is pretty much what has happened this year.
Let me tell you, if you have watched any Red Sox game so far this season, Boston has not lost anything defensively with Bradley in center field instead of Ellsbury. If anything, they gained a much better defensive player. It is amazing to watch Bradley track down a ball in center field. His instincts are absolutely off the charts. He makes some very tough defensive plays look easy just because he gets so many great reads on a ball.
One thing that Bradley has that Ellsbury — or even Johnny Damon for that matter — lacked is a very strong arm. Bradley made a couple of throws against the New York Yankees where he showed what he is capable of doing and may start getting a reputation in the league that he is not one to be challenged. It is exciting to finally have a center fielder who can throw the ball more than fifty feet.
Bradley has struggled a bit offensively and doesn’t have the speed of Ellsbury, but he could be a strong contact hitter from the ninth position in the batting order. Combine that with his GPS type skills in the field, and you have a player Boston fans could enjoy watching for years to come.