Xander Bogaerts’ sluggish start reached new lows Tuesday as the 21-year-old went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts before committing an error in the ninth inning that handed the Boston Red Sox their eighth loss in 11 games. But while Bogaerts’ growing pains might be difficult to deal with amid the Red Sox’s early-season woes, this isn’t the time for Boston to go crawling back to Drew.
Many argued over the offseason — including yours truly — that re-signing Drew was the right move given the uncertainty surrounding Bogaerts and third baseman Will Middlebrooks. Bogaerts showed flashes of his incredible potential during last year’s World Series, but he’s still young, and Middlebrooks endured major struggles throughout 2013 that didn’t paint a very inspiring picture for this season despite his obvious talent. (An injury, which the Red Sox fell victim to when Middlebrooks went down with a calf strain on April 5, wasn’t really a consideration although clearly a possibility.)
Re-signing Drew would have made the Red Sox a deeper team. Signing him tomorrow would have the same effect. But when Boston opted not to re-sign Drew over the winter, it sent a message that Bogaerts and Middlebrooks not only represent the Red Sox’s future. They represent the here and now as it pertains to the left side of Boston’s infield. There’s no sense in changing that tune a few weeks into the regular season because of some hiccups.
Bogaerts’ poise is impressive, so signing Drew probably wouldn’t discourage the young shortstop too much. The Red Sox decided to dive head-first into the Bogaerts Era this season, though, and thus the current growing pains should be viewed simply as that — not as some crippling problem the team must make drastic changes to rectify. In other words, the Drew ship sailed the second the Red Sox arrived in Fort Myers without the veteran in tow. Calling the 31-year-old right now would only reopen a door the Red Sox seemed completely OK closing and inherently muddy the waters when it comes to their stance on the current infield situation.
Bogaerts’ struggles aren’t all that concerning. You could make the case his defensive woes are troublesome, largely because there’s already been speculation he might someday move from shortstop, but his offensive struggles are unlikely to last. Bogaerts’ first RBI of the season Wednesday could mark the beginning of something bigger at the plate.
The Red Sox knew — or they should have known, at least — that Bogaerts probably was going to go through a rough patch at some point during his rookie season. The Red Sox determined over the winter that threat wasn’t serious enough to overexert themselves financially for Drew, and a rough couple of weeks shouldn’t automatically force them to reconsider their initial stance.