All Criticism Aside, J.D. Drew’s Consistency With Red Sox Cannot Be Overlooked


Mar 10, 2010

All Criticism Aside, J.D. Drew's Consistency With Red Sox Cannot Be Overlooked The Red Sox will break camp with 25 players heading north to Boston. We begin a daily look at each position on the club, from the projected starters to their backups. Our latest installment examines right field.

The defense rests: It seems like every year, there is a point at which Red Sox fans, pundits and even casual onlookers begin to question J.D. Drew. He takes too many pitches, doesn’t he? Where is the intensity? Is the Red Sox' right fielder really worth $70 million?

The only answer to that last question — the question that truly matters — is the one Red Sox executives give whenever they are pressed on the matter. This line by general manager Theo Epstein, delivered during this offseason, seems to sum up their thinking on the topic:

“From a straight objective standpoint, what [Drew] contributes offensively and what he contributes defensively, and add in baserunning … So it’s the total value of the player, on a rate basis he was outstanding, and there aren’t too many outfielders who compare to what he did [in 2009]."

Regardless of which side of the debate one may fall, there is little argument that Drew is just about the surest thing on the Red Sox' roster. In his three years in Boston, his consistency is incomparable, even if the results do not please everyone.

Drew has hit between .270 and .280 all three years. He has driven in between 64 and 68 runs. He has scored between 79 and 84 times. His walk totals have been 79, 79 and 82. Twice, Drew has recorded 126 hits with the Sox, twice he has hit 30 doubles and all three times he’s smacked exactly four triples.

With an on-base percentage of .390 in Boston, Drew gets aboard with the best of them and he’s been clutch in October.

Throw in a rock of a defender in Fenway’s tricky right field and a shrewd runner on the paths — two other elements of Drew’s game which never seem to waver — and you have a steady presence in the Red Sox lineup.

Or do you?

The looming issue with Drew is, was and always will be his durability. He is no stranger to cortisone shots. The nickname “Nancy” Drew has been used in Fenway more than once.

Sure enough, as much as we rely on Drew to hit his quotas, so to speak, we can count on him to miss some time this season. The 34-year-old has sat out 110 games in three seasons in Boston and has averaged only 123 games played since becoming a regular starter in St. Louis in 2000.

Despite controversial comments in the past, Drew’s manager in the Gateway City came to his defense this time around.

“I think he’s received an unfair tag about injuries,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has said. “I know in our experience, every time that he was hurt, he was hurt. I don’t think he ever willingly dodged some games because he was tired and a little ouchy. I just think his body has betrayed him.”

In the face of constant criticism, Drew has a pretty good defense team. Remarkably consistent, too.

Other options: Jeremy Hermida, who has played most of his career in right, will be the first to get the call if and when Drew goes down. Next up would likely be Josh Reddick, who was among several outfielders (Rocco Baldelli and Brian Anderson were two others) to spell Drew last year when the starter was banged up.

Reddick ripped two doubles in his first career start in place of Drew on Aug. 1.

If all else fails: If Drew is lost and the others can’t hack it as everyday fill-ins, there are a few players in contract years who might become available in the event that their respective teams tank. Among the best right fielders in the group are Jayson Werth, Michael Cuddyer and Magglio Ordonez.

The Red Sox have Drew through next season, but there is a provision which allows the club to opt out of the last year of the contract if he spends at least 35 days on the disabled list in 2010 due to issues with a troublesome right shoulder.

Previous Article

Bunting Not Usually Best Option for Red Sox

Next Article

Celtics Face Memphis on Second Night of Back-to-Back

Picked For You