Boston Red Sox: Was the J.D. Drew Era Really as Bad as We Thought?

Sean DelorgeCorrespondent IIIMarch 29, 2012

Was J.D. Drew as bad as Red Sox fans made him out to be?
Was J.D. Drew as bad as Red Sox fans made him out to be?Elsa/Getty Images

As we prepare for the 2012 season, there are a few questions that still need to be answered for this year’s Boston Red Sox.

One of those questions is who is the starting right fielder?

For the better or worse, J.D. Drew manned that position for the Red Sox for the past five years.

While he never truly lived up to the five-year, $70 million contract he signed with the Red Sox back in January of 2007, Drew was a staple in the lineup and you knew what you were getting.

To be honest, Drew never had a chance at winning over Red Sox fans. He was replacing fan-favorite Trot Nixon, a hard-working player that played the game with a passion and was part of the beloved "idiots team" that won the World Series in 2004.

Drew’s offensive numbers still make me cringe.

He batted .264 while wearing a Red Sox uniform and in those five years managed a meager 80 home runs, neither of which warrants a $14 million per year salary.

However, there were two things that Drew did well.

He was an above-average fielder, something that can be difficult when playing in Boston given the strange dimensions of Fenway Park.

In addition to being an asset in right field, Drew worked the count well, had good plate discipline and in turn produced a high on-base percentage.

At times though, Drew’s working of the count was even viewed as a lack of effort and was a detriment to his reputation with fans.

The biggest question that I have is given a redo, would the Red Sox make this move again?

Then-GM Theo Epstein probably would, but I would not.

The team could have saved that money and spent it better elsewhere, but they had a hole in right field after they decided to move on from the oft-injured Trot Nixon.

There were three big-name outfielders on the market during the 2006-07 offseason, Drew, Carlos Lee and Alfonso Soriano.

The Red Sox decided they were going to make a major upgrade and they picked the best of the three options.

For all the flaws with Drew, he was the cheapest of the three, had the most plate discipline (something that Epstein coveted) and was the best defensive option.

Despite my aversion to Drew, I can’t imagine how bad it would be if Lee, who signed for six years with the Houston Astros, or Soriano, who signed for eight years the Chicago Cubs, were still in right field.

At least Drew’s tenure is over and Red Sox fans can now move on.

Drew wasn’t much better than the player he replaced and he certainly wasn’t worth the $14 million per year investment the team made in him. Rather than making a major signing, the Red Sox would have been better served making a trade or promoting from within.

On the other hand, as Drew had a hard time winning over fans who were enamored with Nixon, he has set the bar low for future Red Sox right fielders.

Can Ryan Kalish stay healthy and provide the Red Sox with a steady presence in right field?
Can Ryan Kalish stay healthy and provide the Red Sox with a steady presence in right field?Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Someone like Ryan Kalish could be a breath of fresh air for Red Sox fans. He may even draw comparisons to Nixon for his ability to go all-out every day. Hopefully Kalish doesn’t incur the same slew of injuries that limited Nixon throughout his career.

After all the criticism Drew received during his tenure with the Red Sox, fans can never take away how instrumental he was during the 2007 playoffs.

Now, while writing this I began to think, "wow, who will Red Sox fans despise in 2012?"

Carl Crawford picked the perfect time to have the worst year of his career. Drew was still in uniform and Crawford was officially the second-biggest disappointment in the outfield.

Crawford better turn things around and fast because now that Drew is gone, the spotlight is officially on him.