Whenever there's a signing or a trade, you always see this disclaimer. "Pending a physical." Well, this is only the second time that I can recall that said physical has meant something significant in Red Sox Nation. The other time being when the Yankees traded for Ugueth Urbina at the deadline, then he failed a physical, then we traded for him, and he passed a physical. Let's hope that Drew can contribute to the Sox similar to Urbina (49 saves in a season plus a few months) but over a much longer period of time.
I think hope is a key word when talking about JD Drew. The 31 year old has had a career of hope and dashed hope. When the Phillies and Giants drafted him, they hoped he'd sign, but he didn't. Can't blame him much for that. He did sign with St. Louis and the Cardinals hoped their 5th overall pick (Drew was actually selected in the 1st round of the draft twice) would quickly blossom into a potential MVP. Drew did make it to The Show in his very first season with the Cardinals. But in what would have been his first full season (1999), Drew hit the DL for a month and a half with a strained quad. In 2000, he sprained an ankle and missed about 3 weeks. In 2001 he was hit by a pitch and broke a pinkie, then had a lower back sprain. He missed almost a month combined with those injuries. In 2002 he missed half a month with tendinitis in his knee. He had off season surgery on the knee, and coupled with a strained oblique, missed about 6 weeks of 2003. In 2005 he was hit by a pitch on the wrist and missed the entire season after the 4th of July. The barrage of injuries has resulted in JD Drew only playing 145 games or more twice in his career, playing 130 or more 4 times, and playing fewer than 110 four times.
In eight seasons that were meant to be full, JD Drew has amassed 157 homers and 496 RBI. That's 19.6 HRs and 62 RBI. now, he's averaging 27 homers and 86 RBI for every 162 games played, so when he's healthy, he's solid. He also has a very nice .393 OBP in his career, and a respectable .286.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming Drew for his injuries. The two DL stints from being hit by pitches are just freak things. And the guy is obviously in good shape so it isn't like he's to blame for getting hurt. And I'm not going to accuse him of being a Nomar and milking injuries as long as possible. It's just somewhat uneasing to think of him on the Sox. He could very well play 145 games for us this season, hit 30 HRs, and knock in 110 runs. He could very well do that for a few seasons. But at the moment, it is still just a hope. There's very little evidence to suggest that he will do it. He seems capable of doing it, but is he very likely to remain healthy enough to do that? And the thing about injuries is that they mount up over time. They get worse and worse the more times you get hurt. And he isn't exactly a young player anymore.
It just seems like we're taking a big risk on Drew. He seems so much like Trot Nixon in every regard except for salary. Baseball-Reference.com has Trot Nixon as the most similar batter to Drew statistically. The two are prone to frequent injury, and neither one hits right-handers that well. Yet Drew is getting $70 million over 5 seasons, and Nixon was signed by Cleveland for 1 year at $3 million. That's about 5 times as much as Nixon, per season, and its 23 times the commitment to Nixon.
But it isn't my money to risk. I think Drew will perform well, spend some time on the DL, but generally be a positive impact player on the team.
With Drew, the Sox starting position players look like this:
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
My basic lineup would look like this:
1. Coco Crisp
2. Kevin Youkilis
3. David Ortiz
4. Manny Ramirez
5. JD Drew
6. Mike Lowell
7. Julio Lugo
8. Jason Varitek
9. Dustin Pedroia
That has the potential to be a very solid middle of the lineup. But the entire thing has the potential to be a disaster. If Crisp continues to struggle, Youkilis's performance last year was a fluke, Manny decides not to try, Drew gets hurt, Lowell falls off, Lugo is a bust, Varitek continues to struggle, and Pedroia doesn't play like a major leaguer; we're screwed. I think we'll score as many as 975 runs if things go right, and as few as 800 if things go poorly. I think as long as we get in that 900 range, we'll be fine.