Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo were sent down to Pawtucket following an announcement this week. This clearly means that Mookie Betts will be starting in Center Field, Shane Victorino in Right Field and Hanley Ramirez in Left. It also means that Daniel Nava and Allen Craig will be filling in. I personally was very happy to see Mookie Betts make the starting outfield. The 22 year old had an impressive stat line during Spring Training; he has hit .458, in nearly 50 at bats and has hit eight doubles. He has the speed and athleticism to easily man center field defensively. At first I was a bit disappointed to see Castillo being sent down as I felt he easily could have handled right field at Fenway. In 30 at bats he hit .310 with 2 home runs and showed the potential as to why we dished out $72.5 Million in order to get him. Even though I feel that down the road this season he will become the starter in right field I understand and agree with the decision to have Shane Victorino starting. His stats certainly do not help his case as he has had nagging injuries during spring training and has hit an abysmal .171. He also played in only thirty games last season so it is clear his durability is a question mark heading into this season.
However he has done a lot in his career. He has won four Gold Gloves and played a significant role on two World Series teams in Philadelphia in 2008 and Boston in 2013. He was the starting Center Fielder and Right Fielder respectively for both teams during those seasons. John Farrell made the right move by putting a guy with Championship pedigree as the starter. The man certainly knows how to win, but it is clear to me that he is dwindling and his body is wearing down. That is why I do not see this being an issue. I envision ultimately Farrell probably knows that “The Flyin' Hawaiian” will get injured early on in the season or his body will wear down and he will hit poorly enough for Farrell to be justified in calling up Castillo to replace him. Ultimately I don’t see Victorino lasting as the starting right fielder beyond mid May to June. Once that happens, he will be put into a more limited role, likely similar to what Mike Carp did for the Sox back in 2013. Victorino can still play there is no doubt about it and I truly feel like he could come up with some big hits in that limited backup outfield role as Carp did that year. At the end of the day Farrell made the right decision by giving the veteran the starting gig, but we all know who the starter will be by the end of the season. This team has a lot of pressure to win and they are not going to handicap themselves for long letting a struggling Vicotrino be the starting right fielder.
By Spencer Roush @El_Spence_Man