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.
0:41 - Michael Holley, Kayce Smith and Tom Giles recap their thoughts on drafting Jayson Tatum and trade rumors involving the Celtics.
6:21 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to discuss if it would be worth trading for Paul George as a one-year rental and if there would be a chance he could still around long-term if traded to Boston.
11:13 - Evan Drellich joins BST to talk about Rick Porcello’s outing, the Red Sox offense coming to life, and Doug Fister being claimed by the Red Sox.
15:10 - Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely look back at the Celtics/Nets trade, what the assets have turned into, and if Danny Ainge has done a good job turning those assets into players.
CHICAGO – As opening nights go at the NHL Draft, Friday night was a bit of a ho-hum affair for the Boston Bruins at the United Center home of the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Bruins went the safe route by drafting a smooth, defensive-minded defenseman with the 18th overall pick when they selected Finnish product Urho Vaakenainen, and in doing so left more dynamic forwards like Kristian Vesalainen and Kailer Yamamoto still on the draft board for other teams to claim as their own. It was a bit of a curious choice given how many defensemen the Bruins already have in the prospect pipeline, but the lack of strength in the draft class seemed to lead teams to carve their own paths looking for players.
The 6-foot-1, 188-pounder clearly has miles to go offensively despite his smooth skating and solid passing skills, but there’s also a consideration that the teenager has been playing in the men’s league in Finland for the last couple of seasons. It makes things a little more difficult to project for the Finn D-man, but the Bruins believe there is some upside to his offensive game given the skills, the hockey IQ and the considerable confidence that the player has in his own game.
“His gap control and skating ability are really good. He’s obviously played in the Finnish Elite League at a very young age for one and a half years now and he’s played on the big stage at the world juniors. We feel like there’s a lot of upside for a 200-foot player that gets back on pucks, and then can transition them back out. Being able to cover ice is an important part of the game, and it continues to evolve in that direction,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney, who indicated Vaakenainen will play in North America in 2018-19 after fulfilling his contractual obligations in Finland. “We tracked what he did on offense at the junior league level prior to him jumping to the elite league, and it lines up pretty well with other elite players that made the jump to that level.
“It’s a valid question and whether he gets put into those [offensive] situations this year is what we’re excited about with his [Finnish] team moving forward.”
While Vaakenainen sounded surprised the Bruins selected him after only a single meeting at the NHL scouting combine, Sweeney said that Boston’s head scout in Finland has enough history with the family to vouch for the kid’s makeup.
So while it’s far from a sexy pick and the Bruins could have tried to hit a home run with an 18th overall selection in a mediocre draft, the B’s will also get some time before anybody is ready to label the Finnish blueliner a boom or a bust.
The rest of the draft night didn’t add up to much for the B’s, however. They made the selection of Vaakenainen after strongly considering dropping down in the first round, and in doing so lost one of the better trade chips in the form of their 2017 first round pick. There were discussions with Minnesota about Marco Scandella and a few trade feelers to other clubs that might listen on a D-man, but the Bruins now have to hit the reset button on trade discussions for left-shot defensemen or top-6 left wings.
Perhaps Scandella’s $4 million per season salary was an issue for the Bruins, or maybe the Bruins didn’t want to give up their first round pick for a 27-year-old D-man coming off a so-so season with the Wild. Either way, there wasn’t enough momentum for the Bruins to get a trade done with a bevy of defensemen rumored to be available if the offer is good enough.
“I was on the record saying that we’d be offering our first round pick for target-specific players, and we did do that,” said Sweeney. “I don’t blame teams for not necessarily wanting to go through with it, so we went ahead with a player we wanted with our own pick. We continue to build what we think is a good group of guys moving forward.
“There are a couple of areas we’d like to address and get better. We’re trying to help our team currently. Certainly Brandon [Carlo] jumped into our lineup and we hope Charlie [McAvoy] will carry over what he did, and we have other players that will push. We have six returning defensemen we feel good about and we’ll certainly push from underneath, but it’s an area we’ll continue to address. We have some forwards that we also hope will come online, but we’ll never stop exploring and trying to improve our club.”
So let’s sum it all up after a week of additions and subtractions from the Original Six organization: The Bruins added a decidedly vanilla defenseman in the first round of the NHL Draft that might be a simple stay-at-home guy, and they weren’t able to muster any kind of deals for a D-man or winger to enhance the NHL roster. On the other hand, they didn’t give up much over the week as well and they didn’t do much at all to harm a solid roster that looked like they were finally on the right track pushing into the playoffs last season.
The Bruins could be in store for an action-packed Day Two of the draft on Saturday full of promising prospects and bountiful trades, but it sure feels like the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago isn’t going to be a very memorable one for the Black and Gold.