Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox

Sunday, June 05, 2011

JD Drew Seems to Have Already Retired

To the delight of many Red Sox fans, right fielder JD Drew is now in the final year of his five-year, $70 million contract.

However, just two months into the 2011 season, it seems as if Drew has already decided to retire.

Drew has played in 46 games and had 145 at-bats, yet has only eight extra-base hits to show for it.

Consider this: Drew Sutton, who has played in just 10 games and had just 28 at-bats, has more doubles (5) than Drew (4).

Equally disturbing, Drew has a mere 12 RBI, including his game winner on Saturday.

It was nice to see Drew exhibit some sign of life, if only for a moment.

However, after celebrating with his teammates — who had mobbed him on the field in the aftermath of his game-winning hit — Drew immediately returned to his usual stone-face as he left the field.

The moment exemplified Drew's stoic nature. Some might argue that his demeanor is ideal for a ball player, and that he is just even-keeled and not prone to excessive highs or lows.

Others, however, would argue that Drew barely displays a pulse and shows little emotion or enthusiasm for the game. It's fair to say that Drew typically appears dispassionate, disinterested, and complacent.

And that's just what makes his lackluster performance this season so frustrating. To this point, Drew's line is a miserable .228/.335/.331. Long heralded for his OPS, Drew is sporting a paltry .666 OPS this season.

OPS is a combination of on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The point of getting on base is to score. However, Drew doesn't do that with any particular skill or consistency. In fact, he has never scored more than 84 runs in his previous four years with the Red Sox.

This season, Drew has scored a mere 12 runs and is on pace to score about 36 runs in total. Like the rest of his numbers, that is just pathetic.

A high slugging percentage is achieved with an abundance of extra-base hits. The point of extra-base hits is to drive in base runners, or move them — or yourself — into scoring position.

However, Drew is not a run producer either. In four seasons with the Red Sox, he has never driven in 100 runs. His best output was just 68 RBI. This year, he is on pace for a paltry 36 RBI.

If a player performs well, no one cares if he displays a cool, detached demeanor. But when a player performs at a level as low as Drew does, that demeanor seems like a lack of will or interest.

Drew simply isn't getting it done. At this point, it's fair to say that's he's just mailing it in and collecting enormous paychecks.

Mike Cameron (.175/.239/.333) clearly isn't the solution, or even a viable alternative. Maybe Cameron just hasn't been given enough time to play, or enough at-bats. Or maybe he just got old really fast. One way or the other, he doesn't inspire confidence right now.

With that in mind, you have to wonder how much longer the Red Sox will tolerate this gaping hole in their lineup? They could certainly use a potent right-handed bat in their lefty-dominant batting order.

Though he is also a left-handed hitter, Josh Reddick will likely be given more playing time. At a minimum, he'll be given an opportunity to display his skills for major league scouts.

The general assumption is that Ryan Kalish will become the Red Sox' new right fielder once Drew's contract expires at season's end. But if Kalish's injured shoulder heals sufficiently, that moment could arrive a lot sooner.

If the Sox really do place greater value on Kalish and see a higher upside for him, Reddick would certainly be expendable.

Additionally, Kalish is also a lefty, lending credence to the notion that the Sox might like to package players like Reddick and Marco Scutaro for a right-handed corner outfielder with some power.

One way or the other, the Red Sox — a team with realistic World Series aspirations — can't afford to just let Drew ride out the season taking called third strikes and grounding out weakly to second.

Regardless of whether he's injured, or has failing eyesight, or has just completely lost what little heart and desire he once had, Drew is now a total liability at the plate.

The best you can say about Drew is that he is a solid right fielder with good instincts, who covers lots of ground, gets to plenty of balls and prevents hits. He is also a good baserunner who displays equally good instincts on the base paths.

The problem for Drew is that he's not on the base paths nearly enough to utilize those skills. And it's not as if he's creating lots of runs with sacrifice flies either.

Maybe Drew needs a new bat. Maybe he needs a new heart. Or maybe he just needs to officially retire right now.

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