Stephen Drew and the Boston Red Sox need each other.
Drew needs a team to play for and the Red Sox need a shortstop. Xander Bogaerts? He is the third baseman of the future. Will Middlebrooks? Pawtucket is a perfect for him as he develops patience at the plate and splits time between third base and first base. He can be in the Red Sox’ future as trade bait or used to add depth if there are injuries. The Red Sox’ best team in 2014 has Stephen Drew at SS and Bogaerts at third base.
Drew gets a bad rap from many Red Sox fans. They point to his awful postseason at the plate, but gloss over the tremendous defense he played. Defense is undervalued by most fans, but it matters and it is why the Red Sox won it all last year.
The Red Sox capitalized on defensive miscues by the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals and made them pay. Saving a run with your glove is equal to knocking a run in with the bat. Drew struggled at the plate, but he wasn’t the only one. His offensive struggles were tolerable because of his great defense.
Drew is also a very good offensive shortstop. He was fourth among AL shortstops with a .777 OPS last year. There is this knock that he doesn’t hit in the clutch, yet he had an OPS of 1.022 with RISP and two outs last year. The Drew bashers want Middlebrooks in the lineup over Drew because it would help the offense, yet Middlebrooks posted an OPS of just .696 last season.
Imagine that, with Drew in the lineup over Middlebrooks, the Red Sox become better defensively and offensively on the left side of their infield.
Drew has also been criticized for being soft and always hurt. This is the same tag that was given to his brother J.D. Drew. Drew’s first full season in the majors was 2007, and he appeared in 150 games that year. He followed that up with seasons of 152, 135 and 151 games played.
In July of 2011, in his 86th game (that’s a lot at that point in the season), he broke his ankle. He was out for the rest of that season and missed a lot of time in the following season, appearing in just 79 games. He played in 124 games for the Red Sox last season.
Should the Red Sox open up the bank account and give Drew a long-term deal for big money? Of course not. Ben Cherington has played this perfectly. He offered Drew arbitration, and Drew turned it down in hopes of a long term deal. The market for Drew has been dry so far. Many MLB teams have young talent at shortstop and would rather go with their kids then sign Drew to a long-term deal.
There is also the draft pick compensation that comes with Drew which has really dried up his market. Cherington has put the Red Sox in perfect position. As each day passes, it is becoming more likely that Drew and the Red Sox will come to terms on a one-year deal, with maybe a vesting option for a second year. If it happens, this will be good news for the Red Sox. The Red Sox need Stephen Drew.
Michael Dobreski is the creator of The Pesky Pole Blog and a Boston Red Sox writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter.