Stephen Drew Criticism Unfair, Especially When Skeptics Unreasonably Turn to Family Ties

Stephen DrewWhether it’s just his last name or a sense of Deja Vu, Stephen Drew has already gotten a bad rap among many Red Sox fans, and it’s unfair.

Now, let’s be clear. Not all Sox fans are hating on Drew, as many are excited for the offensive potential he’ll bring to the Boston lineup upon his return. A quick scan of some comments sections, message boards and various social media platforms, however, proves that there is a fair share of haters out there, and the reasoning for the skepticism is absurd.

First of all, Stephen Drew is not J.D. Drew. It’s unfortunate this even needs to be mentioned, but much of the heat Stephen is taking is due to his brother’s oft-criticized, five-year stint with the Red Sox. As soon as the shortstop signed this offseason, there were moans and groans about the Sox not learning their lesson, and some disgruntled fans even opted to recycle the always popular — and terrible — “Nancy Drew” label. Those growls only grew louder when Drew went down with a concussion after getting hit in the head by a pitch on March 7.

To compare two players’ injury histories is odd enough. Doing so simply because they’re brothers is silly, especially considering each player’s injury history is vastly different.

Stephen Drew was limited to 86 games in 2011 and 79 games last season because of a fractured right ankle he suffered while sliding into home. It was a gruesome injury that required surgery, yet some are willing to disregard that fact and instead look simply at the amount of games he missed over the last two seasons.

To say Drew comes with some risk is fair. No one is being asked to ignore his injury history altogether. But to call him “soft” — or some variation of the word — is unreasonable. Doing so because of his family ties is downright ridiculous, and that ridiculousness doesn’t even take into account how vastly overblown the criticism of J.D. Drew became.

J.D. Drew was a consistent threat to get on base, and he put up numbers that one could argue were better than those racked up by his beloved predecessor, Trot Nixon. J.D. Drew also played in just three fewer games than Kevin Youkilis  — Drew played in 525, Youkilis played in 528 — during the first four years of his five-year contract, yet Youkilis will forever be held in much higher regard.

Still, none of that matters. What matters is that Stephen Drew — his own person, believe it or not — was very durable from 2007 to 2010. We shouldn’t suddenly ignore that fact just because his Red Sox tenure is starting off on less-than-savory terms, or because there’s this awful perception that J.D. Drew was some injury-plagued slouch.

When healthy, Stephen Drew is a solid offensive shortstop. He’ll make the Red Sox’ lineup better, and that should be the biggest consideration regarding his impending return. The calls for Jose Iglesias to remain the starter are understandable given his hot start, but Drew could win people over in a hurry.

If Drew struggles after he gets back into the lineup, then have at it. Criticize all you want. Until that’s the case, though, let’s cut the guy some slack.

Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

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