Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hitting the Milestone In Style

Congratulations to #7 JD Drew, who followed up his most recent retirement comments with perhaps the most fitting performance in his Red Sox career. Guy went 0-4 with a ground ball to second base in each of his first three at-bats. Sitting at 99 weak ground balls to the right side on the season heading into the game, Drew hit triple digits for the second time in his Red Sox career and is well on pace to eclipse his all-time regular season high of 106 set in 2007 (he had another 12 in the playoffs).

Actually, let me re-think that most recent comment. Due to his sore ankle that sidelined him for a couple of days last week, Drew rarely plays full games anymore. As of tonight, he has played exactly two full baseball games since September 6th. His European workday has allowed him to work more productively, as he is hitting .320 over that stretch. Probably because he doesn't smoke cigarettes, watch soccer and drink beers six days a week with his boys, embrace socialism (obviously), or take naps in the middle of the afternoon like most Europeans. So maybe the Red Sox career high is safe.

Felger during the infamous "I thought you were gonna ask me" interview of September 30, 2009 said Drew recorded the "softest 140 I've ever seen." This year, it HAS been that soft. Out of his 131 games, he has either come in late or left early in 33 of those games - over a quarter (25.2%) of all games he's played this year. Drew has left or appeared as a pinch hitter in 15 more games than 46 has played all season. Unbelievable.

In the last full week of Red Sox baseball for me (I'm heading to JD-ublin), I'm trying to take a step back and look at some things on the absolute aggregate, trying to diagnose things that went hideously wrong for the 2010 Boston team. And I had a problem isolating JD as a problem. After all, he pretty much took the team on his back for May when it was winning.

Then I realized, he disappeared for the rest of the season. He's hitting .230 after the All-Star Break, and since he's been completely invisible, the team has fallen to pieces. Similarly, when he went Jon Lester on us and decided to treat April like spring training (hitting .198), the team struggled then as well. His OPS, like in '07, is below .800, and he's going to at least make a run at a career high in strikeouts. Not sure if you knew this, but Theo Epstein shouted from the top of a mountain that Drew had the second-highest OPS of all AL outfielders last year.

We don't even have to get into the stats against lefties for the $56 million (so far) platoon player.

He's been vocally unhappy this year about the strike zone expanding, thereby decreasing his ability to appear like a productive baseball player without taking the bat off his shoulder. He's also become JD Patrick Drew to a certain extent, talking about how much of a hero he is for appearing in the lineup when 46 and Mike Cameron haven't done so. But his rendition of showing up was kind of like the Red Sox showing up in the pennant race. Showed up in May, looked good by the all-star break, then went through the motions from July 15th on. The "games played" number is sort of like the Red Sox' "sellout streak."

I've said for three years that if Drew is playing well, the team wins. If Drew is trying to pull outside pitches and rolling balls over to second base - or if he's looking foolish against breaking balls (like he has for the last two months or so), the team does not win. That's what we've seen all year.

It's as if the guy's already retired.

1 comment:

The GM said...

"When the pitch was coming in on the outside corner, I was thinking the whole time, foul it off, foul it off, foul it off. But then instinct took over and it went toward Brian Roberts's glove. It just ended up in there."

I thought you were gonna ask me about JD Drew having the single most inexplicable defensive play of the season.