Disappointing is vast understatement when considering that the defending World Series Champions own a 20-26 record and are in the midst of a seven-game losing streak. Oh, by the way, six of those losses were at home. Yes, the Boston Red Sox appear to be a complete mess in the early going of the 2014 season. They have more than a handful of problems to attend to, which may take a lot of time. However, there is one problem the Red Sox can fix right now: getting rid of Grady Sizemore.
Boston made two big mistakes going into the 2014 season. Those mistakes were keeping too many projects in the lineup and relying on last year’s so-called “magic.” By “project” I mean players who are risks to an extent and whose production bears unknown results. In this specific category enter Sizemore and prospects like Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley Jr. The other mistake,”relying on magic,” simply means that Boston relied on players who happened to have great years in 2013, but are otherwise mediocre at best. Enter Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava, Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes.
Let’s focus on their mistake dealing with the projects. When a team is below-average, it cannot afford to have four projects in their lineup, especially when it is hitting .246 as a team. With the signing of Stephen Drew, Middlebrooks is likely out of the equation. With Bogaerts’ recent surge, I do not consider him much of project anymore. That leaves two projects, Sizemore and JBJ, and the Red Sox can only afford to keep one.
So, which player should it be? Sizemore, in 34 games, is hitting .218/.293/.336 with two homers and 13 RBI. Bradley Jr., in 42 games, is hitting .201/.296/.299 with no homers and 14 RBI. Both of their numbers are extremely sad, but the decision is still easy. Keep Bradley Jr. and say goodbye to Sizemore.
I know Bradley Jr. often seems lost in the batter’s box, but he is the right choice. First of all, he hits ninth in the lineup, Sizemore is supposed to be hitting sixth and even lead off. JBJ is more reliable, better defensively, younger and has more upside. While Sizemore clearly can’t play everyday, is 31 years old and has already reached his ceiling. The former All-Star’s best days are sadly behind him and he is officially on the decline.
Bradley Jr. is capable of playing center field every day and making a huge impact with his defense. His hitting needs a lot of work, but his stellar defense makes it easier to be patient with his offense. When was the last time the Sox had a center fielder who could actually throw the ball? Offensively, he can only get better by facing MLB pitching everyday. Keeping him in the ninth spot isn’t too risky either.
The Red Sox need a solid, left-handed hitter behind David Ortiz and Napoli. Sizemore, A.J. Pierzynski and Drew are not the answers. Boston needs to trade for a power bat in the outfield and release Sizemore. Perhaps the Sox could look to acquire Andre Ethier or Garrett Jones. Whoever it is, Boston needs to take action sooner rather than later.
I’m sorry, but it’s almost June and the Sizemore project is not working out. The Red Sox are in a bad position and don’t have time to wait around for this guy. Moving away from Sizemore would be wise because Boston just isn’t good enough to baby him right now. If the Sox were winning games, it would be a different story.