Scout: Drew will be an everyday player

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Scout: Drew will be an everyday player

With the departure of Mike Aviles in October, it appearedthe shortstop job would be Jose Iglesias to lose. Now, it appears the job belongs to StephenDrew.The Red Sox signed Drew to a one-year, 9.5 million contract,first reported by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com Monday morning. The Sox have yetto officially announce the deal.In 2012, Drew appeared in a combined 79 games betweenArizona and Oakland, which acquired him in a trade Aug. 20. He hit .223, with a.309 on-base percentage, and .348 slugging percentage, all career lows. In 75 games at shortstop, he posted a .972fielding percentage, also a career low, off his .978 career average and .984career best in 2010. Drew had a career-worst 0-for-22 streak between theDiamondbacks and As.The 79 games were the fewest in his career for a fullseason, behind only 59 in 2006 when he made his big-league debut July 15. Drewdid not appear in a game last season until June 27, missing the first 73 gameswhile recovering from a broken ankle he suffered July 20, 2011, when he wasthrown out sliding into home plate against the Brewers.Drew, who turns 30 in March, was the Diamondbacksfirst-round (15th overall) pick in 2004 out of Florida State. Over seven major league seasons, he has posteda career .265 average, with a .328 OBP, and .433 SLG. His most productiveseason was arguably 2008, when hit .291 with 21 home runs, and 67 RBI in 152games, all career highs.He didnt have spectacular numbers in 2012, but hesgoing to do the job at shortstop, said one scout. Hes going to be an everyday, make-the-playtype of guy. Nothing sensational. I think the big question with him is his batgoing to come back.Another question: Is his ankle fully recovered?I think thats going to be somewhat lingering, said thescout. But he adjusted to having it not in the best of shape by positioning alittle better. The range that he had,that may come back. But he became a smarter player. I think a lot of players,when they get hurt they dont know how to deal with it. But hes always been areal baseball player.Drew is a left-handed hitter, giving the Sox some morebalance to a lineup that was becoming predominantly right-handed.I think with the wall there, he can go the other way, hecan take the ball the other way, said the scout. To a left-handed hitter that wall, that canmake guys, if they know how to go the other way with a pitch, that can add20-30 points to their normal average. Andyou dont have to be a power guy to play wall ball. I think hell do fine.He can catch the ball. He can throw it across the infield.Hes a left-handed hitter whos had an average offensive production-typecareer, and he can take the ball the other way.So, I think thats a good bet that hes going to have a good year.Drew is the younger brother of J.D. Drew, who played rightfield for the Sox for five seasons before retiring after the 2011 season. Bothare represented by Scott Boras. J.D.Drew at times drew the ire of Sox fans for what was perceived as lack ofintensity or urgency.As far as the media, Stephen is kind of a quiet, reservedguy, very much like J.D, said the scout, who followed Stephen Drew closelyearly in his career. Its been a few years, but he seemed to be more outgoingthan J.D. I think hes going to know howto handle things. Hes a pro.The addition of Drew seems to signal the Sox dont thinkIglesias is ready for the big leagues. In 25 games with the Sox in 2012, Iglesias hit just.118, going 8-for-68, with just two extra-base hits -- a home run and two doubles -- two RBI, and fiveruns scored. He struck out 16 times withjust four walks. The defense ofIglesias, who turns 23 on Jan. 5, has never been in doubt since the Sox signedthe Cuban defector in 2009. It is his offense that continues to be doubted.Iglesias cant hit. I hope the Sox dont think thats asecret, said the scout. Sometimes its treated that way in the industry, buthe cant hit. Hes really, really a great defender. But you cant put a bat inhis hands and he cant steal first base.Hes got tools but he doesnt have a toolbox.

Morning Skate: Rangers seem to be a strong candidate for Shattenkirk

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Morning Skate: Rangers seem to be a strong candidate for Shattenkirk

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading with Bruins captain’s practice set to kick off this coming week.

*The Rangers sound like they’ll be a strong candidate for Kevin Shattenkirk, and the Dallas Stars seem willing to stand pat at the goalie position.

*PHT writer James O’Brien speculates on who might be the next Artemi Panarin to break into the NHL ranks from overseas, and make a big impact.

*Yahoo fantasy hockey is making some changes this season, and those that liked to draft Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Burns are going to bummed about it.

*An original St. Louis Blues jersey from the old time hockey days has found its way back to its original home in St. Louis.

*Steve Simmons says that Dave Bolland has earned the right to be more than a punch line at this point in his career.

*Looking back on Phil Esposito’s classic speech amid the 1972 Summit Series.

*The All-Snub team for the World Cup of Hockey would be a talented lineup, and would no doubt be captained by P.K. Subban.

*For something completely different: those looking for signs of a rift between Bill Belichick and Tom Brady need to call off the search.

Belichick discusses risk of exposing players to waiver claims

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Belichick discusses risk of exposing players to waiver claims

Bill Belichick knows the data. Knows the risk involved in exposing a player to a waiver claim at this time of the year and long ago came to the uneasy truce that you can’t keep ‘em all and somebody else might snag ‘em.

This summer, the Patriots don’t have a mass of easy releases, especially among their rookies and first-year players.

There are a lot of very intriguing players who’ve looked good either in practices, games or both. Good enough to make the Pats think twice about whether they want to leave them exposed.

Top of mind for me there are corners Jonathan Jones and Cre’Von LeBlanc, linebacker Elandon Roberts, wide receiver DeAndre Carter, defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton and running back D.J. Foster who appear to be right on the roster bubble but are impressive.

“It’s something you take into consideration, it’s a hard thing to predict,” Belichick said when asked about weighing the risk of a released player the Patriots would like to re-sign to their practice squad getting claimed. “There’s going to be, I don’t know, certainly going to be a lot of players, probably over 1,000 players that will be exposed to waivers in the next eight calendar days or whatever it’ll be. I think the average claim is somewhere in the high 20s there…so that’s what the odds are. We’ve had years where we haven’t had any of our players claimed and we’ve had years where we’ve had multiple players claimed. I think at the end you just have to do what you think is best for your team.”

Belichick has given us terrific insight this week into how he and Nick Caserio strategize their roster decisions. When asked about the team’s releases in advance of the cutdown deadlines, Belichick mentioned the team wanted to have the ability to accommodate new players who may come available.

Enter the Barkevious.

He also got into projecting young players against established performance levels of veterans and weighing current contributions against future ones.

"That’s the $64,000 question," Belichick said on Tuesday. "That’s what it is. It’s been like that since the day I got into this league. From all of the personnel meetings I’ve ever been in it’s a [matter of] a player who’s more experienced [and] more ready to help the team now, versus a player that’s not as ready now but at some point you think the pendulum will swing in his favor. Will you do that? Can you do that? What are the consequences of making that move? What are the consequences of not making that move? How likely, as you said, is it that you could keep both players in some capacity?

"That’s what it’s about, trying to balance now with later. We’re going to field a team in November, we’re going to field a team next year, we’re going to field a team in 2018. Not that we’re getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we’re going to be in business in those years, so we have to sort of have an eye on those moving forward and a lot of the other factors that go into that. Those are all tough decisions. They’re all things that you really have to think about."

As is the risk of having a player scooped.

“It’s pretty hard to predict what’s going to happen when you put players on the wire because in all honesty, you don’t know what the other [31] teams are going to do and who they’re going to put on the wire,” Belichick explained. “Even though you put a player out there that you don’t want to lose, if another team happens to put a player out there that may be a team that needs that position and would be better with your player, your player gets claimed. Sometimes we waive players that we didn’t think would get claimed and they were, so that’s really hard to predict.

“In the end, you’ve got to make the decision that you feel like is best for your football team, and if you really want that player and you just can’t bear to live without them, then you shouldn’t be exposing them to the wire,” he concluded. “That’s the reality of it. We keep an eye on them, but I don’t think it’s an overriding factor. If you’re prepared to waive them, then you’ve got to be prepared to lose them. That’s just the way it is.”

Belichick considering using Jones as the No. 1 punt returner

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Belichick considering using Jones as the No. 1 punt returner

Back in May, when the Patriots drafted Cyrus Jones in the second round, Patriots director of player personel Nick Caserio made it very clear: Jones' ability to return punts is what made him their favorite player available at pick No. 60.

"I think the thing that tipped the scales in Cyrus’ favor a little bit," Caserio said at the time, "was his overall versatility -- punt return -- that’s a huge component of what we do and we thought he had the ability."

Jones broke out with a 60-yard return on Friday against the Panthers, flashing the kind of explosion in the kicking game that the Patriots anticipated when they made him their first selection this year. 

Though Jones has admitted he has had his share of issues securing the football during punt-return periods in practice, he has not dropped a punt in a preseason game. And in a conference call on Saturday, Bill Belichick acknowledged that Jones could be the team's primary punt returner in Week 1 even though the team employs two accomplished players who have performed that well in the past. 

"Yeah, I think that’s a consideration," Belichick said of using Jones as the No. 1 returner. "Obviously, Danny [Amendola] and Julian [Edelman] have a lot of experience returning punts for us as well as kickoffs in the past. We’ll see how it goes, but we have good depth at that position and that’s always a good thing to have.

"We have confidence in all of those guys back there. Last night we even had D.J. [Foster] who got a chance to handle the ball. We’ll see how it goes going forward, but I think we have good competition and good depth at that position."

Saving Edelman and Amendola from further wear-and-tear could help extend the careers of both 30-year-old receivers. Not long after Jones was drafted, we took a look at how many hits Edelman and/or Amendola could be saved on a weekly basis by using Jones in the kicking game.