Time for JBJ supporters to say 'I told you so'
Nobody likes it when you say “I told you so,” but we really did tell you so when it comes to Jackie Bradley Jr.
The miserable adventure that has been the 2015 Red Sox season has turned into a delight the last several weeks. A team that was impossible to watch has suddenly become exciting and fun.
One major reason for that is the play of JBJ, the electric outfielder who spent most of the season in Ben Cherington’s doghouse in Pawtucket.
There’s no reason to rehash Bradley’s remarkable stats, especially over the last month when he has been incapable of hitting anything but an extra-base hit. We all know how good he is, and we’re past the point of denying it now.
Jackie Bradley Jr. is the real deal. He’s the guy we dreamed he would be — and then some — when we didn’t seem to mind that Jacoby Ellsbury took his talents to the Bronx following the 2013 World Series.
Of course, those of us in JBJ’s corner back in May and June should feel a little better than the rest when watching the Red Sox because, even when he was stuck in McCoy Stadium, we knew there was more to Bradley than just his spectacular defense that routinely conjures up memories of Willie Mays.
“But he can’t hit in the majors,” we were told.
“He stinks,” they said.
“He’s oh for eleven,” we were told.
Yes, Bradley went 0-for-11 in his first stint with the big club this season. That came after he hit .198 in 127 games with the Red Sox in 2014.
It didn’t seem to matter than a there’s a long list of players, including guys like Mickey Mantle, who couldn’t hit when they first arrived in the big leagues.
It didn’t seem to matter that of those 11 Bradley at bats, four came against Sonny Gray and three were against Felix Hernandez. All of them were on the road while playing for a team with all nine batters in a slump.
Pete Rose wouldn’t even have bet on himself under similar circumstances.
It didn’t seem to matter that JBJ was absolutely raking it in Pawtucket.
No, Bradley Jr. couldn’t hit, and you were a moron if you wanted him back in Fenway. Trade him for a player to be named later and a case of beer.
Now that Bradley is back roaming the outfield in Boston — even if it is at the wrong position — the Red Sox are no longer the lethargic bunch they were from April through July.
With Bradley, Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo, the Red Sox have the most exciting outfield in baseball maybe since the Royals had Carlos Beltran, Jermaine Dye and Johnny Damon in the late 1990s.
Of course, David Ortiz has been on a mission lately, Pablo Sandoval has been hitting and playing decent defense, Xander Bogaerts does everything and TravisShaw has been a great surprise.
Suddenly, the Red Sox starting pitching has come around, too, making the string of meaningless games down the stretch worth watching.
Of course, Dave Dombrowski and whoever he tabs as the new general manager have some work to do before we can call the Red Sox a contender in 2016.
First order of business would be a Jeff Gillooly-style hit on Hanley Ramirez to make sure he never plays for the Red Sox again. Then, Dombrowski needs to add a real ace and rebuild the bullpen before we are to have any delusions of an AL East title in the future.
In the meantime, JBJ and the rejuvenated Red Sox have given us plenty of reason to feel good about the Old Towne team heading toward the off season. A baseball-free October won’t be as painful because we’ll still have lots to talk about when it comes to the Red Sox.
If you were one of those who was truly in JBJ’s corner from the start, make sure to give your neighbor, or anybody else who will listen, your best “I told you so.”