Only in baseball. Or should I say, only with the Red Sox?
Tell me, in what other profession does a team hire a temp and pay them 10 Million dollars, knowing that he probably won’t last the entire year?
Oh, it gets worse. The Boston Red Sox actually had a little bit of history to refer to, as newly signed Stephen Drew is the younger brother of aloof former Sox J.D. Drew. That in itself would be enough to scare me off, but just because they are a product of the same gene pool, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are cut from the same cloth.
So we look objectively at Drew, standing apart from his brother. Understanding that he was coming back from a major injury that kept him out of baseball for a year, last season he batted .223 with 7 park jobs in 79 games. In fairness, those are not terrible numbers for a player viewed as a temporary fixture. And his history suggests that maybe he’s a little better than that. He hit 15 homers and sported a .278 batting average in 2010, which was his last full season.
Most obvious, however, he is damaged goods, suffering a nasty fractured ankle in July of 2011 which took more than a year to heal – which made the management of the Arizona Diamondbacks feel as if he was sandbagging, protecting his own health for his free agent push after the 2012 season…
…so the D-backs did the smart thing and shipped him to Oakland, midseason.
Drew became a free agent when the Oakland A’s declined their half of a $10 million mutual option for Drew in October. That the small-market, fiscally conservative A’s were willing to part with $1.35 million to buy Drew out of the contract is, to me, compelling.
Now he is a member of the Red Sox. A one year deal reported to be worth $9.5 Million with incentives to bring it up to $10 Million which, to a player that has already earned tens of millions of dollars, isn’t much of an incentive do to anything.
Someone help me out here. Could someone please explain to me how this makes the Red Sox better? I don’t care about the money- it’s not mine to care about, nor was it Drew’s. What does matter to me is Drew’s attitude. Was he truly saving himself last season for a big free-agent payday, or was that a ruse by Arizona to dump him? Why was Oakland so eager to part with him? Why did the Red Sox give him what Oakland wouldn’t?
It’s not like he’s a world class hitter. He is average in every way. If 10 million dollars is the going rate for a light hitting shortstop with a bum ankle and questionable pedigree, imagine what the Red Sox would have given him if he were actually the solid, long-term option.
Drew is here for one reason: He is a fill in at short while prospect Jose Iglesias rounds out his game in the minors…if he can. The 22 year old is as spectacular a defensive infielder as you could want, with range, athleticism and a cannon for an arm – a major league talent. But at the plate, not so much.
If he were in the lineup for the Red Sox, they would use the Designated hitter to bat for him, and make the pitchers take cuts.
The better question may be why is Iglesias even in the conversation at all, now that Drew is in the picture, when they have a more well rounded prospect in Shortstop Xander Bogaerts with the Sea Dogs in Portland and is not that far away from a look/see in Boston? And don’t tell me it’s because of the money they’ve invested in him, because the Red Sox throw money around like they’re using it to toilet paper Francona’s house.
So if Bogaerts will be ready in a year or two and Igelsias will never be the hitter that the Red Sox need from the position, why are they even bothering with him?
The 20 year old Bogaerts has a bat that projects to All Star quality in the Majors, and should ascend up the Red Sox farm system quickly, and is not nearly as high maintenance as Iglesias or Drew.
I suppose we shouldn’t be all that surprised at the Red Sox for taking this road. The Shortstop position has been a revolving door in recent years, suggesting that the Sox management have a long ways to go before they are major league quality, given their willingness to bring in oft-injured, high priced free agent with marginal talent to bridge the gap to the majors from the farm for a high priced kid who couldn’t hit a beach ball with a tennis racket.
Perhaps they should have just left the position up for grabs in Spring Training, letting Iglesias and Bogaerts fight it out. Because bringing in free agents has an effect on the continuity of a team, especially bringing one in with the express purpose of dumping him when one of those two kids are ready.
Drew knows it, the Red Sox know it and both prospects know it. At least it will be interesting to see how all parties involved react if it all goes sideways on them.