Healthy Drew 'excited' to be next shortstop for Red Sox


Healthy Drew 'excited' to be next shortstop for Red Sox

Over the last decade or so, the Red Sox quest to find just the right shortstop has become something of their white whale. A seemingly never-ending search, with one find a temporary fix until the next. The result: Over the last 10 seasons, eight different Opening Day shortstops, with just two Marco Scutaro in 2010-2011 and Julio Lugo in 2007-08 making consecutive starts since 2003.

The Sox will extend that list as Stephen Drew will be the next Opening Day shortstop in 2013. Whether Drew, who agreed to a one-year, 9.5 million contract on Wednesday, remains so beyond that remains to be seen.

But with highly regarded prospect Xander Bogaerts along with Jose Iglesias in the organization, perhaps one year is all the Sox need.

I dont really know, Drew said on a Thursday afternoon conference call with his agent Scott Boras. Coming into this, being a free agent for the first time, just kind of didnt know where Id be at and where Id land. I think Im a good fit in Boston.

I cant really say where Im going to be at at the end of this year after Bostons seasons over. Im just going to play it by ear and see what happens. Im just really excited to be there and I know its going to be a good fit for me.

Drew, the younger brother of former Sox right fielder J.D. Drew, turns 30 in March. He was the Diamondbacks first-round (15th overall) pick in 2004 out of Florida State. Over seven major league seasons, he has posted a career .265 average, with a .328 OBP, and .433 SLG. His most productive season was arguably 2008, when hit .291 with 21 home runs, and 67 RBI in 152 games, all career highs.

But in 2012, Drew struggled in his return to the field after breaking his right ankle July 20, 2011, when he was thrown out sliding into the plate against the Brewers. He did not appear in a game again until June 27, 2011.

Last season, he appeared in a combined 79 games between Arizona 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 .972 fielding percentage, also a career low, off his .978 career average and .984 career best in 2010. Drew had a career-worst 0-for-22 streak between the Diamondbacks and As.

With the As in September, though, he hit .263, going 30-for-114, with five home runs, 14 RBI, 12 walks along with 34 strikeouts a .331 on-base percentage, and .421 slugging percentage in 29 games. In five postseason games, he hit .211.286.316 with one RBI, two walks and seven strikeouts.

Hes anxious to see what a fully healed ankle will allow him to do.

Ankles doing well, he said. In the response of doing all the rehab stuff for about a year with that bad ankle injury, its doing very well and Ive been very pleased with it. Put a lot of hard work into it. Not knowing where Id be at this past season and it coming back strong at the end of the season really gave me confidence. The ankles doing tremendous.

My overall health is fine. This past year and this year, this offseason Ive been working really hard because I know how the ankle was with that injury. Having that whole year of working out and doing the rehab stuff, my overall health is actually better than its probably every been.

Boras believes the pairing of his client and the Sox is a good one.

We really felt that that was kind of a match made for what strengths Stephen has as a hitter and what the ballpark in Boston provides, Boras said. We fully expect a very successful season and also I think its going to give the Red Sox and Red Sox fans a chance to see a player that Im not sure everyone really understands the talent level of Stephen Drew. I think after this year I think everyones going to think a lot differently about what type of player Stephen is and the impact he can have on a division-contending team.

Third baseman Adrian Beltre, another Boras client, had a one-year stint with the Sox, in 2010 a highly productive season when he lead the American League with 49 doubles, was an All-Star and won the Silver Slugger -- before leaving for the Rangers in free agency and a lucrative five-year deal. While there were other teams reportedly interested in Drew for more than one year, he preferred the one-year deal in Boston.

I think at the end of the day we kind of sat down and said what teams need a shortstop and whos playing second and like the field, which thats going to benefit me, Drew said. And I think Boston was the best fit for us.

Its going to be fun playing with Dustin Pedroia. I played against him but actually to play with a good second basemans going to be a really good opportunity for me.

The last 18 months since the injury was kind of crazy Drew said. Going through a long rehab after a debilitating injury was tough on him and his family. Getting traded for the first time in his career and transitioning to a new team were adjustments.

Drew also took some heat in Arizona -- including from Diamondbacks president Ken Kendrick -- for the length of his rehab. Some thought Drew should have returned much sooner. It was not unlike some heat that older brother J.D. occasionally took in Boston for playing with what was perceived to be a lack of intensity or urgency.

That did not factor into the younger brothers decision to join the Sox.

No, I dont think its a concern, he said. I think I understand Boston. The teams been around a long time and their fans are really passionate. They have a right to be. As players going through hard times, its not that easy. I think every player wants to do good. Thats just part of your business, part of the job. You go out and play and prepare hard every day and just leave it out there on the field. That's all you can do. At the end of the day, you go home and think about things and go back and try to fix it. As players you kind of got to adapt or adjust just like you do in the middle of an at-bat to what pitchers are doing. Theres always game adjustments, just like when theres hard times.

There was actually a positive from the injury, though, Boras said.

Stephens actually come through this with greater defensive acumen as far as range after the ankle injury than before because of the fact that he has worked so diligently and hard on his conditioning and on his lateral movement in preparing to come back and play, Boras said. But keep in mind this player has come back and played a full near third of the season in advance of him coming in. So as far as the ankle injury thats something I think is well behind us and we have a very healthy player coming to Boston to play every day.

Don't roll your eyes at the NBA's emoji tweets -- they're the best

Don't roll your eyes at the NBA's emoji tweets -- they're the best

On Wednesday, 👀aiah Thomas was up to his old tricks, sending out a cryptic tweet containing only the hourglass emoji. 

This followed Thomas’ infamous Monday night tweet of the eyes emoji, the same tweet he had sent just prior to the Celtics signing Al Horford in free agency.

Like Monday’s tweet, the internet dug into what the hourglass could mean, with a leading theory pointing out that the logo on Paul George’s new sneakers resembles a sideways hour glass. Or Thomas could completely be messing with us. 

Side-note, by the way: Basketball Twitter has it all over the other sports' Twitters. Football and baseball Twitter are generally lame because of years spent by the respective leagues with sharing video. Hockey Twitter is great but can be insufferable. Basketball Twitter rocks, though. The jokes are the best, the memes are the best, the people are the best. Plus Woj is there. Love that guy. 

Anyway, the point is that, yes, reading into what emojis grown men are sending out is a waste of time, but we’re talking about Twitter, which essentially has three purposes: reporting, freaking out about Trump and wasting time. 

Most people on Twitter are not reporters. Not all of them freak out about Trump. Wasting time is allowed by all, so really what’s the difference between tweeting emoji theories and sports fans giving you their takes on how teams to whom they have no connections will think? It’s all garbage. At least the emojis are cute. 

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

Haggerty: No move may be the best move for Bruins at deadline

The NHL trade deadline is now less than a week away, with plenty of movement expected despite the perpetual lack of sellers, and an expansion draft perhaps preventing some teams from taking on players they will then need to protect. 

The Bruins shouldn’t be much of a seller as long as they can continue their current good stretch for three more games before the March 1 deadline. The expansion draft shouldn’t be much of a scare either based on the players {Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Malcolm Subban) they might be in danger of losing to the Vegas Golden Knights this summer.

With the Bruins currently outside of a playoff spot by virtue of the one game in hand held by the Florida Panthers (both teams have 66 points vying for the final wild-card spot), it would be no surprise if GM Don Sweeney wanted to be a buyer at the deadline for a Boston roster that could use a big top-six winger with finishing ability, a top-four defenseman that can move the puck and a backup goaltender should Anton Khudobin have any more struggles this season.

The Bruins and Avalanche had been talking steadily in recent weeks about a possible deal for 24-year-old left wing Gabriel Landeskog, but those discussions have hit a standstill with Sweeney refusing to part with either Brandon Carlo or Charlie McAvoy in the trade package. That's the 100 percent right move for a Bruins team that shouldn't start trading away blue chip D-man prospects. 

Landeskog has made sense for the Black and Gold because he’s signed long term with a reasonable $5.7 million cap hit, and because he’d theoretically be a good, power forward fit alongside David Krejci.

It’s that type of trade Sweeney and the Bruins are looking to make for a young player with term that will be part of the long-term solution in Boston. They aren’t looking for a repeat of last season where they shipped off good future assets in exchange for pedestrian rental players Lee Stempniak and John-Michael Liles and missed the playoffs anyway after dipping into the trade market.

In other words, Sweeney doesn’t sound all that keen in dipping heavily into the rental market, for a Patrick Eaves or a Dmitry Kulikov for instance, as he did a year ago.  

“Do I think we have an opportunity to make the playoffs? Absolutely, there’s no question this group has a chance to get in. Whether or not I can find a player between now and the deadline that sort of fills all those gaps, that does remain to be seen,” said Sweeney at the time of the Claude Julien firing, prior to the current four-game winning streak. 

“But I think it dovetails with the fact that I’m not going to be short-sighted. I’m going to stick to the longer term view as to what I have put in place with the intention of being able to bridge and bringing in players like David Backes and surround our guys that we get a chance to win now and be competitive now.

“I’d prefer to err on the side of a player that will integrate into us on the longer-term. Last year, we gave up draft picks. I wasn’t prepared to move players that I felt in the same regard that teams had asked for in order to get a higher-level rental or a different kind of rental. I’m not going to deviate from what I said. Are there players and we have a surplus? That’s what I want to try and evaluate and find out whether or not we can deal from a position of strength.”

Some of that may change after a current four-game winning streak with a Bruins team that looks much more playoff-worthy than the aimless group that struggled through the first 55 games. But it would have to be the perfect rental at the right price for it to make sense for the Bruins this time around and chances are that might not materialize for a team just looking to hang in there until McAvoy, Anders Bjork, Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson and Zach Senyshyn are ready to contribute a couple of years down the road.

So, would people be okay if Sweeney and the Bruins stand pat at the trade deadline if they can’t swing a big hockey deal for a young player like Landeskog who would be part of the long-term plan? Is it acceptable to just let it ride with the current group that has suddenly shown a different gear under interim head coach Bruce Cassidy, and bet on the core group rising to the occasion like they didn’t the last couple of years under Julien?

The answer from this humble hockey writer is that Sweeney should pass on anything less than a home run deal for the Black and Gold. The worst thing the Bruins GM could do is get in the way of the momentum that’s naturally starting to roll with his team, or make another severe misstep with his NHL talent evaluation. Right now, draft and development seem to be his strengths, and he should lean into those and away from being a wheeler dealer with wiser, more experienced managers around the NHL looking to once again rob the Black and Gold blind.

So, there’s a chance the Bruins do very little at the deadline and, after thinking about it, the fickle fans should be perfectly okay with that as they watch a newly transformed hockey club.