Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Red Sox Maineiacs Roundtable #2 - Stephen Drew Edition

Welcome back to another Red Sox Maineiacs Roundtable! Today we talk about the hot topic in Red Sox Nation - the signing of Stephen Drew. The conversation starts in a structured manner in response to five questions about the Drew signing. It then devolves into chaos.  As always, join the discussion in the comments section below.

1. How will moving Xander back and forth between SS and 3B affect him? 

Deacon Art: I do think alternating between the two defensive positions is not ideal for Bogaerts, but he is a good enough hitter to overcome it.  But once Middlebrooks is healthy, he and Drew will in effect platoon.  Drew at SS/X at third versus righties, and X at SS and Willie Middle at third against lefties.  Xander is about to break out no matter where he plays.  But no matter how many times John Farrell claims Bogaerts is still viewed as a shortstop, Deven Marrero's stock rose considerably today.

Cousin Jason: Who's to say that he is definitely moving? Maybe the Sox signed Drew to play 3B? OK, perhaps that is a bit of advocatus diaboli. I think there are 3 reasons why this will not affect our favorite Aruban, sidebar, how long before Xander becomes the best MLB player to come out of Aruba? He already is? Tomorrow? By the end of this month? A quick Google search indicates that the 3 most notable former MLBers from Aruba are Sidney Ponson, Eugene Kingsale, and Calvin Maduro, all of whom were given the Dutch equivalence of knighthood. Back to the 3 reasons: 1. He is still only 21 and not that far removed from last season nor his days in the Senior League World Series when I'm sure like many of us growing up we played many positions. 2. He is a sharp tack, I was duly impressed with his postgame interview the other night when he got hit by the pitch on the hand, I think he is mature well beyond his age. 3. He is Aruban and just wants to play, he probably would catch if it got him in the line-up everyday. Of course, it could irrevocably ruin his career. Let's erase that last thought!

Barry: The answer to this question is very complex and layered. So much so, that I can't really wrap my head around it.  In the short term, Xander looked like a sad puppy dog during the game last night and he made two errors and hit into a bad luck double play. No matter what the Red Sox tell him about his bright future. He clearly took the signing personally and as a sign that they don't believe in him.  BIG MISTAKE.  The more I think about it that's the way I'm leaning.  The signing of Drew will impact the development of Bogaerts.  This is the second time that the Red Sox front office has been shortsighted in two months.  How they thought that Sizemore was going to be the CF I will never understand.  Now this? I'm losing faith in the Red Sox FO and Manager. 

My other major concern is that the group of veteran Red Sox players are turning into whiny bitches.  I can see a scenario where Gomes, Victorino, Carp, Napoli, Lackey, Peavy, Ross and Pierzynski etc. start to blame the "young kids" for the lack of success.  When it really should be the other way around.  They are the key guys that should be carrying the load and the young guys should just be contributors. If this is happening we could be in for a repeat of 2012 and I don't trust Ben Cherington to clean it up.  If it is true that Mike Carp was complaining about being in the line up last Saturday and not being told about it the night before then he should be released a la Jay Payton.   Cut his ass and bring Nava back up.  But, it seems to me that Cherington and Farrell are letting the inmates run the asylum.  "The veteran players were excited to have Drew back" was the word yesterday. You know for a fact that they've been asking for this.  If this move was made to somehow keep the veterans happy then shame on all of them.  

2. How quickly will Stephen Drew be able to hit major league pitching with consistency?

Deacon Art: This to me is the $64 question.  Fairly or not, unless or until a bigger move is made, Drew is going to be looked at as a savior.  He is not.  Will he help? I think he will.  But this afternoon on Twitter, Gordon Edes had an interesting 2013 stat.  After 59 games last year, Drew was hitting .215.  If that happens now (and with a minimal training time, it may), this move may blow up on the Red Sox.  

Cousin Jason: First off, we are assuming that he has ever done this in his career. A look at his career splits on Baseball Reference shows his monthly splits being .260, .251, .247, .259, .275, .283. So for his career he has been a bit of a streaky hitter. Last year being a strong case study as he .244, .200, and .154 in May, July, and April, .304, .277, and .267 in August, September, and June. As you indirectly pointed out in your post, he can't be any worse than Brock Holt, Ryan Robets, and perhaps even Willie Middle. I think the bigger issue with this team is the overall lack of hitting, no one is hitting over .300 and only 3 guys (Ortiz, Pedroia, and Victorino) are hitting over .270. In fact the only categories that the Sox are in the top 3 of the AL are walks, OBP, and HBP. For me, it is not the Drew's, etc. that need to pick it up but rather the studs need to get hot. Outside of Ortiz last week, this line-up has been in a funk since the word go. However, to answer your question, who knows maybe Drew has something to prove and plays like his first year in Arizona when he hit .316.

Barry: Well he's been in the big leagues for 8 years and he still hasn't figured out how to hit effectively. He's a defensive specialist. Perhaps he will prevent a few more runs from being scored, but this guy can't hit for shit.  

With the loss of Ellsbury and Victorino only hitting righty there is a need for more lefthanded bats, as proven by their record against right handed starting pitchers.  So his lefthanded bat may be helpful at times, and he may be able to help at the top of the order batting second or leadoff. Just don't expect this guy to fix their offensive problems.  How many hits did he get in the postseason last year? 

3. Can Drew provide this lineup with some extra pop from the left side?

Deacon Art: See my answer above.  I think Stephen Drew is a better hitter than most casual fans think.  But the long layoff concerns me.  On the plus side with the one year deal, Drew is again playing for a big money contract this winter. As a matter of fact one report out there today, claimed the Sox wanted a two year deal, but Drew and Boras wanted one year.  I think the fact he is comfortable with this bunch of guys may also help Drew hit the ground running.

Cousin Jason:  I think the answer is yes, since they only have 18 HR's from the left-side and Papi has 11 of those. For one, Drew is left-handed and two he has shown some pop in the past. Coincidentally, they only have 16 HR's from the right-side. See my comments above, these guys are not hitting well. Has Gregg Colbrunn turned into Dave Magadan or something?

Barry: See above answer, but pop may be an overstatement. How about punch? As in punch and judy.  

4. Will Drew be as good defensively as he was last year?

Deacon Art: Yes. This is much more of a given than Drew helping the offense.  But still, the layoff....will it cause rust on Drew's glove as well as bat?

Cousin Jason: Again looking at his career numbers, it seems the answer is no, based on the fact that his .984 fielding % last year equaled his career best. However, he has never been a poor fielder and defense is something that never rests so the chances that he comes in and immediately solidifies the IF defense are far more likely than his coming in and hitting a ton.

Barry: Yes.  He may need to knock off some rust, but yes he will be good defensively.  

5. Is this a pivotal moment with Will Middlebrooks and the Red Sox?
Deacon Art: I think it may well be.  First how long does this fractured finger keep him out.  The word I have read from the team is around four weeks.  But as Brandon pointed out in his recent post, hand injuries can be tricky. But assuming he is back by late June or very early July, Middlebrooks can still help this team.  I would expect Middlebrooks to become the utility infielder, in effect.  The 3B platoon, I mentioned above, as well as some time at first base.  In addition, late in 2013 for awhile he was the emergency backup second baseman, and with Pedroia playing just about every inning, Middlebrooks could handle this role as well.  But with so many moving part for the left side of the infield in Boston, Pawtucket, and Portland, the ideal thing for the Sox would be for Will to play well enough and hit with enough power to enhance his trade value.  One team that was reportedly trying to trade for him last winter was the Marlins (Will and about 5 other guys for Giancarlo Stanton?)  

Cousin Jason: It has to be, he has not shown the ability to stay on the field healthwise and other than some brief stretches he has not hit as well as his rookie season, his fielding has been suspect, and he created a media frenzy by boning Jenny with the fantastic Dells. If he comes back and is still below average, then I think it is time to shop the man.

Barry: I talked to the Deacon on the phone last night and he brought up an interesting point.  They can't really send him down to AAA to play 3B everyday without stunting the development of Cecchini.  May be they send him down to AA so he can really find some confidence and build his way back up.  

Or more likely, he'll stay with the big club as a platoon/back up infielder. He could play both corner infield spots and perhaps some 2B in a pinch.  

So perhaps the bigger question is: Is this the end of the road for Jonathan Herrera's Red Sox career? (Hint: No one gives a rat’s ass) 

Yes I'm angry that the Red Sox re-signed Drew and yes I am on tilt. 

Cousin Jason: Barry's got his Randy Quaid pants on today I see. Although honestly, I can't blame him. This team is playing like crap and I too am starting to get a 2012 feeling again. I would not be opposed to releasing Carp anyways, he really hasn't provided anything to this team in 2014 nor has Herrera for that matter. As I say every time the Sox get in a funk, we need a good brawl to fire them up. Let's put one in Encarnacion's earhole tonight!

Brandon: I love it when Barry has his Randy Quaid pants on!  
"Bring out the tarp! Cover the field! I can't watch this anymore!"

Barry, I feel your concerns about the front office making a short-term move by bringing in Drew and moving X to 3B.  In fact, the more I think about it, the less I like it.  I mentioned in my post yesterday that I am in the camp that now that we had entrenched X at SS, we should leave him there for the next decade or two.  What I am reading today is reinforcing the feeling that we're going to look back on this as a short-sighted mistake. Now, I understand that the tribe of scribes that cover the Red Sox need to write about this acquisition from all sides, and it is easy to write the "will moving Bogaerts stunt his development?" story.  I think that reality is probably closer to what Jason was saying about Bogie in the Senior League World Series - that baseball is baseball and it isn't rocket science to move from SS to 3B and back again.  Then I read a post on Gammons Daily from Alex Cora:

Cora claims that it is very difficult to move from 3B to SS.  At 3B, you're "in a cage" and you just react.  SS is about all the myriad angles that you have to take to various grounders depending on situations.  Bogaerts himself came out yesterday and said not only was yesterday "a really tough day"
but also that he [Bogaerts] felt like he was just getting comfortable at SS and thought he was playing well there and felt like he was getting into a rhythm.  Then the Drew signing blew all of that up, is forcing him to change positions, may never move back to SS (due to how difficult it is according to Alex Cora, also Manny Machado is often mentioned as a guy moved to 3B and never back to SS, and as Art mentioned having Devin Merrero playing a solid SS at AAA), and is making him feel like the Red Sox don't believe in him, despite what Farrell might have told him.  This Tim Britton piece is pretty sobering:

The part that stands out the most to me is where X says, "What can I say? They felt like we're a better team with him; that's why they went out and got him".  He doesn't even refer to Drew by name! And it's not like they're stangers, they played together on the left side of the infield during the pennant race last year! Not to mention the tone of that statement, which leaves unsaid, "they don't believe in me long term as the SS here, they don't think I can get the job done, so they're moving me".
If all this isn't enough, we have the sad puppy dog look and two errors last night.  Signing Stephen Drew is going to have a negative short-term impact on Xander Bogaerts, no doubt about it. The question is, how long will it last?

......and yet, as my post yesterday tried to break down, what the hell else were the Red Sox supposed to do? Play the Slap Weasel at 3B for the next month or two? Re-sign Roberts? Throw Cecchini to the wolves? Move Betts to 3B? Signing Drew was a short-term fix, and probably the best choice on the table.

If you don't like the Drew signing, what else would you have done (looking at you Barry)?

The only other option is to go with the Slap Weasel temporarily and aggressively hit the trade market for a 3B.  Who are they going to trade for? Texas isn't trading Beltre....yet. Chase Headley? Connor Gillaspie? Kyle Seager? Headley and Seager are interesting, but it would take a lot to get them.  Worth emptying a row of the prospect cupboard to get a major league ready 3B? Or better to, yes, short-term sign Drew and keep the pantry stocked?

Cousin Jason: Well put Brandon. Like it or not, the Red Sox cannot continue to play a youngster at his desired position simply because.  If we were the Royals we could. The move to sign Drew was the correct move for this team, which Brandon pointed out. 

As far as Alex Cora's comments go, there is a difference between 3B and SS but the scathing comments from a guy who played more than 100 games at SS in a season twice at ages 24 and 25, are a bit hyperbolic for my tastes. 

Lastly, I seem to recall many in Red Sox Nation, wondering privately and aloud before Xander got to Boston about what position he would play since he could not hack it as a SS. Now it seems those same people are upset over moving him from SS, where, quite frankly, he might have proven all the doubters correct with his play to date. 

This is simply a matter of poor timing. If the Sox had been winning, there would not have been a need for the move and/or the signing of Drew would have seemed like a helpful move.

As far as trading for a 3B, the Rangers and Mariners are not going to trade Beltre and Seager. Headley would cost a hefty sum and why would you want Gillaspie? Unless of course Bogaerts keeps his nose bent out of shape over moving to 3B then we could trade his sad puppy dog face for a 3B?

Barry: As long as I'm in the mood to question the front office then we should take them to task for the lack of depth on the left side of the infield. If they didn't think that Cecchini was ready to fill in at least for a short time. Then they should have had someone at triple A (Brandon Snyder played some pivotal games last year for the Red Sox) Him or someone like him should have been there in a situation like this.  Or go get him again.  Signing Drew reeks of desperation and I think they did it just to make the veterans and/or the manager happy.  Which is short sighted.  Bogaerts was right he's been playing very well defensively lately until yesterday.  If John Farrell fucks this up then he should be fired.   

Cousin Jason: Gloves off! 

Barry: Trade Bogaerts?? Now that makes my thoughts seem rational.  I'd rather fire the manager, cut Mike Carp and Grady Sizemore and trade AJ Pierzynski.  

Cousin Jason: That was hyperbole.

However, you want to say it. I agree with Mazz.  

Brandon: Fire Farrell?!?!?! HAHAHAHAHAHA I hear a guy named Valentine is available, although he currently has an AD job.

Britton and MacPherson took a question in their chat today about what if the Red Sox are sellers at the trade deadline?  Carp, Sizemore, Pierzynski, Peavy, and even Clay Buttholes could be on the block if the Sox decide to make this a "get those reps" year and build for 2015.

There has been a lot of negativity flying around the round table today.  I can't wait for the Deacon to come get from work, fire up his e-mail account, and take us all to task.

Remember, the silver lining is the weak AL East.  We're going to be in this thing until the end.

Cousin Jason: Which part did you agree with? John Farrell sucks? Xander Bogaerts should become an asshole? Or the part about bringing Nava back, releasing Sizemore, and batting Bogaerts leadoff? 

I'll agree with #3 and that Mazz is as whiny a bitch as the veterans on the Sox are becoming

Barry: Carp, Sizemore and Pierzynski have zero trade value.  AJ might have a little value for a team that needs a veteran back up catcher, but those 3 guys should be candidates for being designated for assignment not trade value.  Peavy and Buchholz will need to pitch better if you are going to get full trade value for them.  

If they are going to be sellers at the deadline why would they sign Drew? 

Cousin Jason: Let's just kick the shit out the Blue Jays, literally, figuratively, and with our fists tonight to get on a roll! Happy places everyone.

Brandon: You're probably right about Carp and Sizemore, although there could be an injury between now and July 31 that makes some contender need a fourth outfielder or a left-handed bat for a low level prospect.  

As it stands, the Drew signing indicates they are in it to win it.  But if they continue losing and are 9 or 10 games out by July 20, then they could turn into sellers.

Barry: I agree with all. John Farrell should not be fired ( I went overboard there) but he has been an awful in game manager this year.  A-W-F-U-L awful.  He is a shitty manager right now. He needs to get better.  Bogaerts can turn this around and use it as motivation after the initial shock wears off.  Nava would be a better option than Carp IMO and I would put Pedroia 3rd (where he hit all of last year) and put Victorino in the lead off spot and hit Bogaerts 2nd.  Bogaerts OBP is .370 he needs to be a table setter.  

Sizemore needs to be sent packing too.  

Mazz is a whiny bitch but he's right this time around.  

Brandon: Random thought: what if the veterans on the Red Sox pleading with the front office to bring back Stephen Drew wasn't a dig on Xander at all, but an indication that Will Middlebrooks might be a grade A douchebag? You know he never stops talking about how he is boning Jenny Dell in the clubhouse, which must be grating after a while. The dude wears a fohawk, complained about getting sent down to AAA last year, seems a little entitled, and gives off a whiff of frat boy douchebaggery.  Obviously, I have never met Will Middlebrooks in my life.  He might be a delight. But I wouldn't be surprised.

Cousin Jason: Interesting take on this with a great deal of validity.

I agree on Nava over Carp and Pedroia in the 3 hole. I think I would go Bogaerts then Victorino at the top of the line-up though.

Barry: I would be fine with Bogey than Vic, but I worry that the leadoff spot would put a little too much pressure on the kid.  2nd seems a little more cozy than if it works for a while you could switch them down the road.  

P.S. the Deacon will never have time to comment on this because it will take him a week to read it.  Of course if he's smart he won't read much of it! :)

Cousin Jason: If the Sox continue to play like they have been, he'll have plenty of time to read it tonight rather than watching the game.

Deacon Art: I agree that this move had more to do with Middlebrooks (wouldn't YOU be bragging in the clubhouse and every other place you went in your life if you had Ms. Dell, in the biblical sense).  More specifically about his injury.  I think the Sox would have continued on with XB at SS and Will at third...but I am not sure how long.

I do not agree in any shape or form that the way Bogaerts had played defensively this year gave any credence to the idea he cannot play shortstop.  Before last night's hangdog performance ( I am sure he was still shellshocked from the meeting with Farrell), Xander had made 4 errors...that comes to about 16 per season.  Were there some balls, he did not reach, but were not errors...yes...but he was improving day by day. I think Xander will be OK at third, and his bat is on the verge of breaking out.

But back to Middlebrooks, there are too many unsourced rumors and stories out there claiming the front office is less than enamored with the whole Middlebrooks package (insert Jenny Dell joke here). He has the much sought after right handed power, but I think there are too many other options in the system for third base.  And by the way I DO think Texas would trade Adrian Betre, if they keeping losing, to dump the salary.  But not now, no sooner than July.

I had speculatedd that Middlebrooks could be in effect the utility infielder when his hand heals. But Peter Gammons on his website today theorizes Middlebrooks will be sent to AAA for one last shot to regain his game.  But, even Gammons mentions the problem of playing time for both Will and Garin Cecchini.

I just realized I have written all of this and have not mentioned Stephen Drew.  First I am pissed that the signing will cause me to edit the Nick Esasky All Star team.  Second, I hope Drew helps this year's club, but I am skeptical. Third, the Fairfield Flyers were fast on the waiver draw.

1 comment:

  1. Now the answer to the Stephen Drew dilemma seems simple. Trade his ass! With Bogaerts and Brock Holt leading the team and the top of the lineup in this new streak (I like this streak a lot more than the last) shouldn't the Red Sox stop messing with Bogaerts?! He's playing unbelievable right now.