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Posts Tagged ‘J.D. Drew’


This was not the collapse some of the economists have been predicting.  But it felt as devastating.  The team that had the best record in May-August utterly fell apart.  They went from leading the division to not making the playoffs in the course of a month.

There are plenty of people pointing fingers. I’ve read some ridiculous statements.  I’m going to try and put all this together so it makes sense- not sensationalistic headlines.

Issues of payroll are utterly irrelevant.  I don’t care how much a guy is being paid, if he’s hurt he can’t help the team.  So the size of the Red Sox payroll is ultimately irrelevant in this discussion.  You also can’t look at the roster on paper.  You have to see the roster that can actually suit up.

I refuse to point the finger at Theo or Francona.  At the trade deadline the Sox were in an enviable position.  People were largely singing their praises.  Only hindsight is 20/20, so don’t blame them for not having the gift of prophecy.

The seeds of the collapse were sown in Spring Training with Felix Doubront showing up out of shape.  The team had high hopes for him, and he was positioned to be the spot starter like Lester and Buchholz had been before him.  His job was to be ready.  He wasn’t, and suffered a number of injuries.  The depth they had at pitching took its first hit.  And a big hit since they would be forced to rely on the inconsistent Miller and overmatched Weiland.  This would cost them critical games.

It's lonely when you lose

Ryan Kalish’s injury was also pretty big.  Reddick was the guy who ended up filling in for the injured Drew.  He’s streaky, the book says, and he proved it.  He was on fire when he came up.  But down the stretch he struggled horribly.  A healthy Kalish, the heir apparent to right field before the season, would have made a big difference.  But it was not to be (and THAT, my friends, is part of what A-Gon was trying to say).

Diva-K’s injury seemed like a boon at first.  He was horrible!  But if his arm wasn’t messed up, he would’ve been better.  Instead we got a loveable but too old Wakefield and his quest for 200 wins.  It became a source of instability in the rotation.  Combine that with John (S)lackey’s ever deteriorating performance and the 4th and 5th spots on the rotation gave the Sox next to nothing.  Not even innings since no one when deep into games.

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2010 was an injury plagued season, a lost season, for the Boston Red Sox.  They lost Ellsbury, Pedroia and Youk for most or all of the season.  There were other injuries as well.  The Red Sox just couldn’t bounce back enough.  There were too many injuries to too many players.  The only good outfielder they had was JD Drew.  If he’s your healthiest and best outfielder you’ve got some serious problems.

This has been a different season.  The injuries hadn’t sunk the Red Sox.  The lost Dice-K, but that was a case of winning by losing.  That’s how horrible he was pitching.  But the loss of Rich Hill to the bullpen was pretty big.  They have struggled since then to get a good situational lefty.  His loss may prove bigger should they get to the playoffs which until this weekend wasn’t in doubt.

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It was a roller coaster ride for Red Sox fans this weekend.  At one point they were staring into the abyss, thinking the 2011 was utterly sunk.

Picture This in Fenway!

Thursday night the Red Sox and San Diego Padres reached a deal to trade Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes for the long lusted after Adrian Gonzalez (A-Gon).  The Padres got top prospects in Kelly and Rizzo.  Sox fans have been hyping Kelly’s skills since he was drafted.  He still projects by many scouts to end up a #2 or 3 starter on a competitive team.  Rizzo has displayed the ability to hit at a high level, though there are still some pitches he struggles with at times.  He is a very good defensive first baseman.  I think he has more promise at this point than Lars Anderson has demonstrated.  I was really hoping they’d send Lars west, but was disappointed.  So, the Padres should see these guys in the Bigs in 2012.  Fuentes, if he makes it, will be later.

The Sox have coveted A-Gon for years for good reason.  He has lots of power and still hits for a high average.  Considering he hit well in a pitcher’s park, his power and average should only increase in Fenway.  Unlike Big Papi, he’s not a pull hitter.  He uses all of the field, and many of his hits are to left field.  Lots of his outs too.  But those outs will hit or fly over the Monster.

In previous seasons he struggled against lefties.  But in 2010, the light bulb went on and he hit better against lefties than righties.  One theory is that his shoulder injury forced him to use a lighter bat so he was able to wait abit longer before beginning his swing (hey, Papi & Drew- worth a shot).

He’s also a very good defender at first base.

Credit to Theo, who keeps a tight lid on things like this.  He like to work quietly.  Rumors were coming out about talks, but word of the actual trade didn’t come out until Saturday.  Which is part of what created the scenario.

BUT ….. the Red Sox only had until 2 pm today to work out an extension with A-Gon.  If you are going to give up 2 top tier prospects, you want more than one season of a guy regardless of how good he is.  And they started the process VERY far apart.  He reportedly wanted Texiera money.  He is THAT good, people.  But the Red Sox are reluctant to sign ANYONE to an 8 year deal.  Especially since he had shoulder surgery this off season.

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Carl Crawford is a free agent.  Many baseball fans are drooling.  They want their team to sign Crawford.  And for good reason, he is an excellent player.  Years ago, I had wished the Red Sox could get him somehow.  He is a very good defender, hits for a good average and the occasional homerun.  He is an excellent base stealer.  As a result, he disrupts pitchers and gets those after him in the line up some fastballs to crush.

I now depart from the party line that says the Red Sox should get Crawford.  That is not because he’s suddenly a bad player.  It’s simply that he is not what the Red Sox need.  Before Jacoby came up, they needed a player just like Crawford.  Now, not so much.

Jaboby is a very good defender who is actually willing (demanding?) to play centerfield.  Crawford pretty much refused to play CF for the Rays, creating some line up issues for them.  He also resisted hitting lead off.  Makes me wonder if Carl is more about Carl than about the team.  Jacoby has learned to hit lead off, as evidenced by the end of the 2009 season.  It takes players time to learn certain things, and it certainly looked like Ellsbury had learned that skill.  Jacoby already has what Crawford could bring to a team.

Jayson Werth (AP Photo)

The bigger need for the Red Sox is a big bat to hit lefties.  Ortiz has struggled mightily against lefties in recent years.  Lowell is gone for retirement.  V-Mart is probably gone for a more affordable option that can play better defense (Buck?) who doesn’t require as many years.  V-Mart has been reluctant to rotate between 1st and DH, and part of me doesn’t blame him.  He’s getting old for a catcher and that will be necessary toward the end of a contract the length he is seeking.  He’s not worth the money of a premiere  DH or first baseman.  And Beltre might be heading West.

Drew has been struggling against lefties too.  So what you say?  The Yankees have very good lefties to pitch against the Sox.  The Red Sox need to re-balance their line up.  Without a power hitting right hander, the Red Sox will be in trouble for years to come.  The young guns who should be able to get some time in 2012 with Drew’s and Cameron’s contracts ending are not ready to hit for power regularly.  With Ortiz only signed for 1 more year, the Red Sox need some power.  That left field position is historically a power position for the Red Sox (Mike Greenwell excepted).  Crawford does not have the power the Red Sox need.  And Crawford only hits .256 against lefties (.332 against righties).

Jayson Werth is more of what the Red Sox need than Crawford at this time.  He  hits .287 against lefties, and .300 against righties for good balance.  He can play all three outfield positions, and could play DH.  He might not play every night, but he’d play quite abit since Drew is good for some time on the DL, Cameron is getting older and they will face plenty of left handers.

So, here is hoping that Carl Crawford heads out West so we won’t see him much anymore.  He’s earned his big payday, and I don’t begrudge him.  I just don’t think it should be with the Red Sox.

Update: Looks like I called that all wrong.  That Nationals’ deal came out of left field- complete shock.  I still think Crawford is a better player, but Werth a better fit.  But one thing that concerned Theo (and John Lackey) from 2010 was runs given up by the defense, particularly the outfield.  The Sox just strengthened the outfield defense (and Crawford’s weak arm is not a concern at Fenway), and added another guy who works hard and produces.  If he stayed in the AL East, I’m glad we have him.  The Red Sox have a monster line up with lots of speed to boot.  Contrary to some others, I’d put Ellsbury, Crawford and Pedroia 1-3.  Suddenly you’ve got double steal speed to really mess with pitcher’s heads.  Crawford is not great against lefties, but he’s not horrible either.

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The Red Sox have signed a bunch of people to 1-year deals.  In the last few days they have reached agreements with pitchers Brad Penny, John Smoltz and Takashi Saito.  They have also signed OF Rocco Baldelli and OF/1B Mark Kotsay.  All but Kotsay are coming off seasons in which they have had injury or illness problems.  What is going on here?

The Red Sox are putting together a roster that has the ability to compete with the Rays and Yankees THIS year.  They are not locking themselves in to any long term contracts, so if any of these guys doesn’t recover, it is not a huge hit.  Particularly in terms of the pitching, these moves allow their prospects to develop and they won’t have to trade someone at a discount (like they did Coco Crisp) if/when the particular prospect is ready.

For instance, let’s say Bowden or Buchholz shows he is ready to take up a spot in the rotation in 2010, they won’t have to trade Smoltz or Penny.  However, if Brad Penny has a great year the Red Sox could decide to commit to him long term.  I like the flexibility this provides.  Unlike the Yankees, they have not locked themselves into anything for the next 4-8 years.  They can adjust on the fly.

These guys have all shown they have major league tools.  All we actually need from Rocco is to start against lefties and be ready to pinch hit in the late innings of tight games.  We lose nothing when it comes to defense with that late substitution.  The guy can also hit and run the bases.

If he can’t bounce back as well as hoped, we have the insurance of Mark Kotsay should Drew or Ellsbury suffer an injury.  We aren’t having to dip into the minors like last year and bring up guys who either can’t hit or can’t field.

In the case of Saito, we have a proven closer just in case something happens to Papelbon.  Redundancy, or insurance, depending on how you look at things.

They Red Sox will also have the salary flexibility, as Gammons noted, to pursue a player another team deems too expensive as the trade deadline approaches.  Imagine one of our starters in the outfield gets injured.  He notes that Detroit may decide to dump some salary.  They could pursue Magglio without entering luxury tax territory.  Financial prudence in these tough times, with a commitment to win.

Yes, they didn’t get the big bat they wanted.  But they have the bats needed to ‘protect’ Big Papi.  The problem was injuries, not talent.  If Papi and Lowell are healthy we have a line up to compete with any other AL team.  I don’t buy this fear about being unable to produce runs.  Lowrie can hit, he slumped after an injury to his hand.  The only weak link in the line up will be catcher.

Theo provided some solid depth without breaking the bank or tying up resources for years to come.  He’s sticking to the plan to develop prospects.  All we need now is a catcher.

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One of my good friends was IMing me on Facebook the other day.  We talked about ministry and moved into a common passion- baseball.  He asked if my Sox had bought up the good players yet.  He kiddingly expressed a common sentitment- that we are the Yankees Jr.

Since the new owners took over the Red Sox have signed precisely 2 big bucks free agents: Dice-K and J.D. Drew.  They inherited Manny (Pedro came in a trade).  They have built this team on trades (only Schilling was a big dollar, big name guy at the time), prospects and under-valued free agents (Big Papi for instance).  Yes, they have re-signed a few guys.  But they have done nothing like the Yankees.  Admittedly, they may break from their pattern with Teixeira (he fits the citeria for them to break the pattern).

The Yankees are trying to out-Yankee themselves this off season.  They want to return to the playoffs and World Series dominance.  Can’t blame them for that!  And they realize that pitching is how you get there.  On this level, the offers to Sabathia and Burnett make lots of sense.  They are trying to rebuild a championship quality team- which last year’s team was NOT.  They didn’t re-sign lots of high-end contracts and they have a big revenue stream working for them.

Here’s what I don’t understand:

  • They basically pled poor by asking for more public funding for their new stadium.  Quite the mixed message.  That’s like saying you need help paying the mortgage while you continue to buy expensive toys or status symbol cars.  Are they next in line for a Federal Bailout?
  • They overpaid, grossly, for Sabathia.  The highest competing offer was about $100 million.  They went to $161 million.  I cries either desperation or Sabathia not wanting to play there except for such an outrageous deal.  He’s very good, but he’s not the best left-handed starter out there. 
  • His great girth is reason for caution for a long-term deal too.  Will he become the next Sidney Ponson, or will he be able to pitch well like David Wells?
  • More curious is his weak record in the playoffs, and particularly against the arch-rival Red Sox.  In other words, CC does great against fair-middling teams but struggles against top-tier teams.
  • They are also over-paying to keep Burnett from signing with the Braves.  He’s got great stuff, but is in his 30’s and hasn’t been healthy except in contract years (hmmmmm). 

So, the Yankees are spending money they inadvertantly claim they don’t have, at a premium when they don’t have to, for long-term deals on guys who are risky (see Kevin Brown, Jason Schmidt and Barry Zito).  The Yankees continue to make a big splash, but the waves overwhelm the other people in the pool.  They aren’t just accumulating talent (which is fine) but doing it in a reckless, gawdy fashion that disrupts the economics of baseball in a dangerous way.

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He doesn’t put up the most spectacular stats.  But J.D. Drew just happens to come thru at the right time.  Bad back or no bad back.  His grand slam in Game 6 of the ALCS last year.  His key home run against the Angels this year.  His power surge while Big Papi was on the DL this year.

Last night was just unbelievable.  I was getting ready to turn off the game and hit the hay.  I was going to give the Red Sox one last half inning.  After a whole series of utter futility with RISP, Pedroia came up with an RBI hit that opened the floodgates.  Papi cleared the bases with a long overdue home run.

In the 8th it was Crisp’s lengthy at bat, fouling off pitch after pitch, that finally resulted in an RBI single to tie the game.

In between Papi and Coco, you had Drew driving a rocket into the right field seats to drive in 2.  Then, after walking Bay to get to Drew (and the lefty on lefty match up) Drew got his 5th hit in 8 tries (if I remember right) off Howell to win the game.

He gets paid a good chunk of money.  He’s not flashy, but he plays great defense in right field.  And he gets important hits (leading the Sox in game winning hits this season).  Here’s hoping that Drew and Papi have rediscovered their swing, and that last night was not a fluke.

The young, resilient Tampa Bay Rays are confident they have what it takes to close out Boston in the AL championship series.

In fact, they find it humorous anyone would believe the team’s psyche might have been irreparably damaged when the Red Sox kept their pennant hopes alive with the second-biggest comeback in postseason history. …

Thursday night’s loss is the type of defeat that might destroy some teams. But the Rays have rebounded from difficult situations all season and believe they have the makeup to complete the job against Boston.

I’m sure the 2003 A’s, 2004 Yankees and 2007 Indians all thought the same thing.  They all thought there was no way the Red Sox could beat them.  This is not any of those teams.  No Damon, Pedro, Schilling, Manny etc.  Now there is no Lowell, and Beckett is hurt too.  I can understand their confidence- they are a good team and the Red Sox are a damaged team.  Sometimes things happen like we think they will, and sometimes strange things happen.  I’m hoping for the strange things.

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