It could come as early as July 18th. Or, because of a variety of circumstances, it may be pushed off until the July 22-24 Seattle series. But the day of reckoning is coming. Or should I say, the day of Reddicking!
I am sure Manager Terry Francona is dreading the moment. But with Carl Crawford coming off the DL shortly, Francona soon faces that dreaded moment where he will have NO choice but to sit a HEALTHY JD Drew and write Josh Reddick’s name on the lineup card. Against a right-handed pitcher, no less.
Being a loyalist to veterans, Francona is loathe to ever side with an up-and-comer over one of his established guys. That is why AARP considers Francona to be one of their closest allies in the managing ranks. But in this instance, the case is open and shut. Reddick deserves to play. And Reddick will play.
No longer can Francona protect Drew. The aging and disinterested Drew has brought this upon himself with a level of play that can, at best, be described as uninspiring. The numbers don’t really need much illumination. Suffice to say, they are terrible and show no signs of lifting. And as Drew throws up one hitless night after another, it becomes clearer that there are no sizzling streaks left in his bat.
Meanwhile, Josh Reddick is chomping at the bit. Sure, the sample is small. And making grand predictions off sixty MLB at bats is a recipe for disaster. But the tools are there and with Drew offering no resistance whatsoever, the decision to play Reddick is a layup.
That said, the move is not without risk as breaking kids into the major leagues is a difficult business. Growing pains are inevitable. Droughts are commonplace. And weaknesses are almost always exposed. So don’t expect Reddick to slash 300/350/550 from here until the finish line. But he doesn’t have to rake to justify this decision. Not with Drew having fallen off a cliff.
And truthfully, I am confident Reddick will perform when given the job. Full disclosure, I have always been a Reddick guy. Yes, I know all about his shortcomings. How his terrible approach will limit his upside. And if he can’t get into better counts, it will be difficult for him to harness all of his considerable thunder.
But I have always thought that his tools were being ignored or minimized by his critics. And based on what I have seen of late, his recognition and swing discipline are hardly fatal flaws. Granted, he may never be a .380 OBP guy, but if this guy hits .275, he could easily slam 30 bombs. That may sound a bit hyperbolic but nobody on the team hits the ball with as much authority as Reddick. Nobody. So if he can generate sound contact, and recent evidence suggests that is a reasonable assumption, Reddick can become a big stick in Boston’s lineup.
Granted, that may take some time. And clearly, Reddick could use some polish at the plate. But it is hard to ignore his considerable skills any longer. And with Drew confirming each day that his bat is dead, Francona simply has no choice but to make the switch. I wouldn’t rule out a final fight from Francona, but this change is coming. And coming in the not so distant future.