A year ago, Daniel Nava was in the running for a batting title. He very quietly hit .303 for the Boston Red Sox in 2013. Fast forward a year and Nava finds himself playing for the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate, Pawtucket Red Sox. As it always seems to work out though, an opportunity has arisen on the Red Sox with Shane Victorino heading to the disabled list. The time to shine for Nava is upon us once again, but also brings up a very interesting storyline to the season.
If Nava succeeds in his second trip to the big leagues, the Red Sox outfield suddenly becomes extremely crowded once again. Aside from Nava, the Red Sox have Grady Sizemore, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Jonny Gomes. Once Victorino returns, that would mean five outfielders on the Red Sox roster. The brings up an issue because two of these players would have to sit every game. But who is worthy of staying up? This is where these 15 days will be so crucial to all.
The two obvious choices would be Sizemore and Bradley Jr. Both players have been underperforming the entire year and haven’t really been contributing. Sizemore is hitting .221 with a .299 on-base percentage. Bradley Jr. is looking at a .204 average with a .290 on-base percentage. Personally, I’d send Bradley down if the choice was up to me. Bradley has now played in 80 career games in the majors and hitting at a tune of .198 with a .290 on-base percentage. Call me crazy but that’s essentially half a regular season. Is that not more than enough time to recognize if Bradley is ready or not? How long do you give the kid before it’s his time to go back down? And quite frankly, am I only one that isn’t exactly fascinated with his play? I haven’t really seen anything that makes me think he’s someone that must stay with the club.
With Sizemore, many people are getting frustrated with him because of his slow start and the notion that “the experiment was a failure.” The reason I stick with Sizemore is because he’s proven to hit in the majors. He’s been there done that. He’s in a slump and I feel confident he’ll be able to overcome that. I’m not so sure about Bradley. Maybe some consistent at bats in the minors would do Bradley some good.
The biggest factor about these decisions though are contingent on if Nava performs or not. In his time with Pawtucket, Nava was only hitting .253 but did have a .347 on-base percentage. Getting guys on base is something the Red Sox are in desperate need of. Bradley and Sizemore is not providing that right now. These next 15 or so days will be so important for all Red Sox outfielders. No one really has a position locked down in my opinion, including Gomes. He’s only hitting .242. Something has to give here.
As a fan, I just want to see the best performing players manning the outfield at Fenway, regardless of who that may be. It will now be a battle of who wants it more.