Sunday, June 26, 2011

Switch J.D. Drew with Jayson Werth to end his Misery

"Dad, how old is J.D. Drew?" my nine year old asked me as we were riding in the car listening to the Red Sox game.  J.D. Drew had just struck out looking, and even though we could only hear it, I knew exactly how it looked.  A close pitch that Drew always watches go by, Drew walking toward first half-heartedly and then being rung up by the umpire as he slightly slumps his shoulders and walks back toward the dugout.

Emotion-filled J.D. Drew                      courtesy of prorumors
"He looks 79 years old, he's so old!" C goes on to proclaim after I guessed that Drew was 35 years old,  "He's not very good and he always strikes out.  Why doesn't he swing?"  When you lose a nine year old in the popularity department, that's really saying something.

Almost halfway through the season and Drew's batting average is down 45 points from his career average and his OPS is over 200 points lower.  Even the on base machine (Remember when Theo Epstein defended the Drew signing by showing the Drew had the highest OPS in the American League in the last half of the season a couple of seasons ago?) has dropped to .333.  And this guy is only 35 years old, in a contract year!  Tim Wakefield, he is not.

Couple Drew's awful start with the Red Sox's need for another right-handed bat, and the Red Sox will be in the market for a right handed rightfielder with some pop in his bat.  Interestingly enough, there is a righthanded rightfielder with some pop that will likely be available at the end of next month.  I originally compared this player to Carl Crawford over the summer when the rumors were flying around baseball that the Red Sox were in the free agent market for an outfielder.  Although he signed with another team, he is merely a placeholder for one of the most highly prized rookie prospects in MLB.  Ready?

Jayson Werth.

Werth does have 10 home runs and 10 steals so he would provide the batting that the Red Sox need from Rightfield.  But he's mired in a slump batting just .236 with an OPS of .749 so it's not as if he is untouchable.  Werth's team, the  Washington Nationals are an interesting team.  It's manager just up and quit because the team wouldn't discuss a contract extension midseason.  It's most recognizable player and best pitcher is sidelined for the foreseeable future after Tommy John surgery last year.  But...BUT, the Nationals are also the beneficiary of one of the best prospects in minor league baseball.  And he just so happens to play the same position (rightfield) as Werth...Bryce Harper.

Harper, granted, is in Low A baseball playing for Hagerstown and is battling a minor thumb injury.  But he's tearing the league up right now with a .326 batting average and an OPS of .1000.  And he's carrying himself like a major leaguer even though he's merely 18 years old.  Most teams would let a player like Harper develop in the minor leagues, but the Nationals have a penchant for rushing their star young players through the system (see Stephen Strasburg).  Harper surely will be rushed through just as quickly.  And Werth is standing in his way.  Believe me, Werth is available.

But back to Drew and the Red Sox.  The Red Sox won't mind taking on Werth's remaining $126 million salary and Werth's bat will fit nicely into that 6 hole currently occupied by J.D. Drew.  Drew's final season with the Red Sox will not be his finest, but he will be a good bat to come off the bench for when a pinch hitter is needed for one of the catchers or for Marco Scutaro.  Drew won't complain about his role either because he's emotionless out there on the field.  Even if he were pissed off, we would never know.

Ultimately, the Red Sox have a powerful lineup, but they are struggling against lefthanded pitchers.  A recent game pitched by Pirates pitcher Paul Maholm demonstrates the Red Sox's lack of righthanded power.  It's the team's achilles' heal, especially as they face tough lefthanders in the AL East like Sabathia, Price and Romero.  This midseason trade would be the solution to that problem.

"Dad, why don't the Red Sox play Josh Reddick instead of Drew?"  Yeah, I say put Drew out of his misery and bring in a righthanded rightfielder.

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