Remember last off-season when we pretty much refused to sign Johnny Damon to a legit deal? The Yankees snatched him up for 4 years and $52 million, or $13 million a season. Part of the logic behind the decision to sign Crisp and not Damon was that Crisp was younger. Damon would be near 36 at the end of a 4 year contract. Guess how old JD Drew will be at the end of his reportedly 5 year, contract with Boston. Thirty-six.
I'm being a tad unfair, especially to Drew. Drew is not a replacement for Johnny Damon. However, it just strikes me as odd that we refused to pay Damon, a proven commodity, $52 million, pretty much because he was getting too old, even though he had no history of losing a large amount of time to injury. Then, a season later, we sign Drew, who is quite injury prone, to a deal that is 5 years long and worth $70 million, or $14 million a season.
I think the Red Sox have realized that letting Damon go so easily to New York was a bit of a mistake. But signing JD Drew hardly fixes that mistake. Drew is a slight, very slight, offensive improvement over Trot Nixon, whom he is replacing. Drew has a better OBP and his OPS is consistently higher. However, to invest $14M into a player who has had such a history of evidence is a bit over the top. Especially when part of the reason we refused to retain Damon was because we were afraid he'd break down.
Drew will slot in nicely to the Sox lineup, when healthy. He'll hit after Manny and Ortiz, which will give us a nice lefty-righty-lefty combo. I think if Lowell produces close to what he did last year, you'll see Mike hitting 6th behind Drew. Drew is capable of good production, which is what you want out of a #5 hitter. He also plays pretty sharp defense, something which Willy Mo lacked. Speaking of WM Pena, he'll find himself as a 4th outfielder, but I wouldn't be shocked to see him see a good amount of playing time in a platoon situation.
Yesterday was a $100 million day as the Sox also reportedly signed short-stop Julio Lugo to a 4 year, $36 million deal. Lugo has been long sought after by the Red Sox. Lugo will be 31 next season. He hit .308 for Tampa last season before going to the Dodgers where he hit a mere .219. Lugo should hit in the .280 neighborhood for the Sox with about 15 homers. He'll probably bat 8th or 9th in our lineup which will provide him with some mop up RBI opportunities after the big bats. He doesn't offer a great deal in the power department, which is typical of short-stops. He only had 36 extra-base hits and 12 homers last year. His OBP is also not all that stellar at .341 last year and .340 for his career. He struck out about twice as often as he walked.
Lugo does offer some defensive versatility in that he can play pretty much any position. Defensively he is solid, but not as good as Gonzalez.
He is an offensive improvement over Gonzalez, which is nice. But he isn't four times the improvement, which is what the Sox are seemingly paying him as. $12M a season just seems like a lot for a guy whose career high in RBI is 75, career high in HR is 15, career high in OBP for a full season is .362, and who seemed to struggle with moving to a new team in the middle of last season.
The Manny Ramirez talks have, as I predicted, remained talks. They've also cooled down. The sox were shopping Manny around baseball during the recent winter meetings. However, there were no takers. It seems to me that we were almost asking too much for him. We asked for the Dodgers' top three prospects, and the best two pitchers San Diego has. All for an outfielder with 2 years on his contract for $20M a year. It was almost as if we were trying to make it seem as though we were trying to trade Manny, but knew we really wouldn't be able to get the deal done by asking for so much. Anyway, Theo and the Sox have declared a quasi-deadline for shopping Manny and that is midnight on Wednesday. After that, the Sox say they will continue to listen to possible deals, but will not be as actively seeking them.
So the lineup is starting to take shape. Here's what seems to be what will be the '07 Sox offense:
C - Jason Varitek
1B - Kevin Youkilis
2B - Dustin Pedroia
3B - Mike Lowell
SS - Julio Lugo
LF - Manny Ramirez
CF - Coco Crisp
RF - JD Drew
DH - David Ortiz.
Now a possible batting order:
1. Coco Crisp
2. Kevin Youkilis
3. David Ortiz
4. Manny Ramirez
5. Jd Drew
6. Mike Lowell
7. Jason Varitek
8. Julio Lugo
9. Dustin Pedroia
Not that bad. But expensive, though.