MLB: Spring Training-St. Louis Cardinals at Boston Red Sox

Just a few days ago, a long ode to the Red Sox process appeared in this space. The Red Sox, the glorious bastards they are, matched results with process in a way few other teams can duplicate. Young and cheap players standing shoulder-to-shoulder with high-priced talent. Spoiled for choice, such that they can watch not one but two good shortstops walk out the door because they have reinforcements on the way – arguably more talented reinforcements.

Those few days ago, Grady Sizemore appeared to be an insurance policy for Jackie Bradley Jr. A nice luxury to have in case Bradley struggles (as young players do) or, by the grace of Koji, Grady Sizemore does the impossible. Well, it appears “impossible” was something of an overstatement.

The Red Sox bought a lottery ticket in the form of Grady Sizemore, a player the Indians bet on three years running only to see injuries knock him down each and every time. It is easy to forget just how good Grady Sizemore was, like a left-handed prototype version of Mike Trout before the Game Designer announced “screw it” and pushed all the sliders to full.

As easy to forget as Sizemore’s incredible start to his career (with nearly 25 WAR before age 25, he was a baically Andrew McCutchen), it is also easy to lose sight of today’s date. It is still only March 18th and Sizemore has played only a handful of games, very few of which came on consecutive days.

But it was in complete package he put together yesterday, hitting the ball hard all over the JetBlue Stadium and sprawling out to make unbelievable catches, that makes dreaming Grady Sizemore so much fun. If anything, the Red Sox are trying their hardest not to dream on Sizemore, as manager John Farrell came right out and said this weekend that the Sox were “tempering their excitement” over Sizemore.

One has to believe that yesterday’s standout performance result in some of that caution heading into the wind. That the repeated demonstrations of health and ability might let the Red Sox consider pressing their pedal down a little more, to see what Sizemore can really give them.

Now it is Bradley who is the insurance policy, the pre-arb outfielder with little left to prove in the minor leagues but little in the way of accomplishments at the highest level. It is Bradley who provides cover as the Red Sox ride this Sizemore thing out as long as they can.

When the Sox skipper announces the only thing Sizemore needs to prove is his health but offers the conditional statement “I can’t sit here today and say that’s afforded here in spring training”, it really starts to look like Grady Sizemore will head north with the Red Sox. He sort of has to, doesn’t he?

Another example of the Red Sox investments away from the field paying immediate dividends. Another example of how one dollar spent on front office staff or infrastructure can save millions in payroll and pay huge dividends between the white lines. There are still many hurdles to jump but with a healthy Grady Sizemore in the mix, the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury becomes less and less of a blow.

It could all end tomorrow, of course. Three years is an awfully long time to be away from the game when your body just isn’t willing. But this is where the lottery ticket analogy sort of falls apart – the Red Sox provide support and developed the kind of culture that might help a player like Sizemore increase his chances of realizing his goals. It’s sounds cliche but it appears true. It is time to start adjusting to this new reality, sadly. Grady Sizemore and the Boston Red Sox don’t look like they’re going away any time soon.