Could Stephen Drew wait any longer?
With deference to the show "Say Yes to the Dress," all Stephen Drew had to do last winter was Say Yes to the Qualifying Offer. The Red Sox offered him $14 million to play one more season in Boston. Stephen Drew thought he could do better. Or, at least, his agent Scott Boras did. They were sadly mistaken.
The New York Mets never came calling. When starting shortstop Jose Iglesias was lost for the season, the Detroit Tigers never called. The New York Yankees had 100-year-old Derek Jeter at shortstop, but never called Drew as insurance.
Teams didn't want to pay Drew the money. They wanted to give him the multi-years he wanted. And they certainly didn't want to give up the first round draft pick which they would have to do if they signed Drew before the June amateur draft.
So here we are on May 20. You'd figure Drew and Boras waited this long, they'd wait another two weeks. They, most certainly, wouldn't have gotten more money than the $10 million Drew will get from Boston for the rest of this year. They could, however, have gotten more years and more total money from another team if they waited. That's why I was shocked when I heard the news Tuesday afternoon.
Does the move reek of desperation for the Red Sox? Yes. The Red Sox were two weeks away from losing Drew for good. Until now, he was always pretty much on call.
The signing of Drew is not a reflection on their current shortstop, Xander Bogaerts. The final straw was, in fact, third baseman Will Middlebrooks being placed on the disabled list with a broken finger. Third base, not shortstop, has been the biggest problem.
That's not to say that Bogaerts has been the perfect shortstop. He has struggled, defensively. Fans have to hold their breath on grounders to shortstop. (Just as I write this, Bogaerts air mails a throw into the stands on a routine groundball)
Bogaerts is hitting a modest .269 on the season heading into Tuesday night's action, but he only has 7 RBI. That is barely acceptable from a shortstop, but won't be nearly as acceptable as a third baseman. Even as bad as Middlebrooks has been-- and he has been real bad (.197 batting average) -- he has more RBI (9) than Bogaerts in half the at-bats.
But you have to believe Bogaerts will get better. You can't say that anymore about Middlebrooks. Middlebrooks may have played his last game in a Boston uniform. The Red Sox cannot continue to hold the left side of their infield hostage while waiting to see if Middlebrooks will fulfill his potential. The Red Sox let Kevin Youkilis go to make room for Middlebrooks in 2012. They didn't offer Drew a long-term contract in hopes that their left side of the infield of the future would be Bogaerts and Middlebrooks.
So now here they are. They are overpaying for a middle-of-the-road shortstop. Drew is a piece. He is not a main piece. The Red Sox need a main piece. Their bats are now weak at the shortstop, third base, catcher, and all three outfield positions. Drew solidifies the middle of the defense. It's not enough. The Red Sox will need to make another move. Middlebrooks may, and should, be part of a larger deal.