When Jackie Bradley, Jr. started to draw a lot of notice, he was lauded to great degree for his attitude and work ethic. Indeed, some scribes got rather prickly if anyone dared to criticize Bradley or suggest that, maybe, he wasn’t ready to play every day in Boston.
This year his offensive performance was a big problem for the Sox, and he was eventually sent down to Pawtucket. But Joon Lee of Over the Monster reports that it may have been more than his lack of hitting that earned him a stint in the minors:
According to two league sources, there was a growing sense of frustration within the Red Sox clubhouse — both coaches and players — with Bradley due to his perceived “stubbornness with the coaching staff.” One source added that Bradley was unwilling to work with coaches to fix his swing. Both sources said Bradley’s attitude was one of the main reasons he was sent to the minors.
Did Bradley become frustrated as a result of his struggles? Or is it possible that the enthusiasm some had for him last year was premature?
Hard to say from the outside, of course. But one thing is certain: with Mookie Betts emerging and Rusney Castillo now in the organization, it could be a crowded center field situation in Boston and Bradley can’t afford to have anything else working against him at the moment.
The Nationals will be many people’s favorites in the NL East this season. Not everything is looking great, however. For example, their ace — defending NL Cy Young winner Max Scherzer — can’t even throw fastballs right now.
The reason: the stress fracture he suffered last August is still causing him problems and Scherzer is unable to use his fastball grip without feeling pain in his right ring finger. He will throw a bullpen session tomorrow, but will only use his secondary stuff.
Scherzer has not been ruled out for Opening Day — the fact that he is throwing some means that his timetable isn’t totally on hold — but you have to figure, at some point, not being able to air things out and use his heater will lead to some problems in his spring training routine.
File this under “man, that would’ve been cool.” Or, if you’re a Tigers fan, file it under “man, that would’ve signaled several years of misery.” However you fall on the matter, however, know that, according to Jon Heyman, the Dodgers inquired about trading for Justin Verlander over the winter.
It never went anywhere, but it’s not like it was silliness for the Dodgers to ask. As you may recall, the Tigers were reported to be willing to listen to offers on any and all players back in November, as GM Al Avila contemplated a tear-down. That never came to pass — the Tigers had a quiet offseason and are keeping the team together to make another run at the playoffs with the Verlander/Miguel Cabrera core — but it couldn’t hurt to ask.
Verlander, who is coming off a resurgent season which saw him return to form as one of baseball’s best pitchers, has 10-5 rights, allowing him to veto any trade. He’s married to an actress/model, however, owns a home in L.A., and the Dodgers are a clear contender, so there’s a good chance he would’ve allowed such a trade to happen. Heck, dude even loves pitchers batting, so a chance to do it all the time would be right up his alley.
The bigger issue likely would’ve been Verlander’s $28 million salary. The Dodgers already pay the luxury tax so taking on that commitment would cost them more than the sticker price. And, of course, if the Tigers are going to ever give up one of the best players in franchise history, it would take the motherlode of prospects to do it.
So, no, a Verlander-to-L.A. trade wasn’t ever a strong possibility. But even the slight possibility seems exciting in hindsight. It was a boring as hell offseason.