Two weeks ago, when I asked how it could be that Michael Bourn was still a free agent, I would never have guessed in 1,000 years that his eventual destination would be the Cleveland Indians. I say that without intending to cause any offense, I never imagined he would find his way to Boston, either. He seemed much more likely to end up with a team that would wildly overpay him, or on a team that was ready to compete in the moment. Given that he will earn less than what the Indians are paying Nick Swisher, it doesn’t seem likely that he got the fattest payday he could have. This leaves me to conclude that he believes the Indians are ready to compete, right now.
By definition, this would mean that he doesn’t believe that the Red Sox are ready to compete this year, because they surely could have afforded a 4/48 deal. I know this, because they somehow managed to scrape together $39 million over 3 years for Shane Victorino, whose upside is that he’ll continue to be Shane Victorino. This has caused me many sleepless nights since that deal has been inked. For Bourn, the limit is much higher. In the right lineup, he will serve as a big distraction for opposing pitchers as he burns his way around the basepaths (he’s had at least 41 steals in each of the last 6 seasons.) There won’t be any big bops coming out of his bat, but that’s not his style. Small ball and great defense, which every MLB team could use some improving are his trademarks, and as long as he is able to continue to do that, the Indians are huge winners by bringing him on board. Are they good enough to catch the Tigers? I don’t know, but I know that this puts them one step closer, at least.
When I heard the news that the Indians had
tricked convinced Bourn to sign up with them, I took to Twitter to bash the Sox for losing out to Cleveland. As it turns out, this was a mistake. I had made what I thought was a rather obvious tongue-in-cheek remark about how the Sox couldn’t even compete with Cleveland to land a big-time free agent. This did not go over particularly well with at least one person, who explained to me that the Red Sox already had Jacoby Ellsbury to play centerfield with Jackie Bradley, Jr. waiting in the wings. Somewhere along the line, I must have given the impression that I was an uninformed moron (I’m certain that occurs at least twice a day.)
Regardless, I was and still am aware of those facts. However, it doesn’t mean that as a fan I wouldn’t rather Michael Bourn be in Boston and Shane Victorino be in Cleveland (Sorry, Cleveland.) Bourn and Ellsbury have both played GG-caliber defense in CF, so I suspect that somehow one or the other of them could figure out RF. They could flip a coin on a nightly basis to see who got the start in CF if it came to that. If and when Bradley, Jr. came along how could anyone in their right mind consider it a bad thing to have three guys who can potentially play Gold Glove CF manning the OF? I’d be willing to bet just about anything that the pitching staff would be thrilled with that.
My Twitter detractor, and many others around MLB (including those in the Sox front office) are simply unwilling to look outside of the box. In their opinion, it is much better to sign a mediocre RF to play RF, because that’s his position than it is to bring in the best OF talent that is available and see what would happen.
As a fan of not only the Sox, but baseball in general, the thought of a Bourn-Bradley, Jr.-Ellsbury outfield would have been enough to wipe away any misgivings I had about the Sox heading in to the 2013 season. Not only that, I would hardly be able to wait for the games to start, so that I could see them in action together. Alas, I’ll never get that chance (I likely will never see Bradley, Jr. and Ells together, either.) That’s just the way the game is.
So kudos to Cleveland for making yet another bold move this off-season. Whether it results in a World Championship or not, it’s another step in the right direction.
Questions? Thoughts? Criticisms?
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