Signing Stephen Drew Is a Mistake for Boston Red Sox

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIDecember 17, 2012

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 02: Stephen Drew #5 of the Oakland Athletics fields his position during a game against the Boston Red Sox at Coliseum on September 2, 2012 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images)
Tony Medina/Getty Images

Jon Heymen of CBS Sports reported this morning that the Boston Red Sox have signed shortstop Stephen Drew to a one-year $9.5 million dollar deal. This should leave you wondering: "Huh?"

Stephen Drew was once considered an elite prospect at one of baseball's thinnest positions. He had a great bat with plenty of power potential.

In the 2008 season, it looked like Drew might actually fulfill his high promise, hitting .291 with 21 home runs.

Since then, the wheels have fallen off the bus. Well not so much fallen, but exploded.

From 2009-2012, Drew has hit .254 while averaging less than 10 home runs a season. Injuries have been a major issue, as Drew has played in less than 100 games in each of his last two seasons.

Red Sox fans—sound like any other player you know of?

The last Drew to play for Boston was Stephne's older brother J.D.. The outfielder spent 2007-2011 with the club, and would inevitably make the disabled list his home away from home.

But J.D. Drew had his redeemable qualities. He always had great plate discipline, and played a fairly competent right field. Maybe Stephen could do the same.

Or maybe not.

Stephen Drew has been an albatross defensively, posting a career UZR of minus-22.3. He seemed to take some steps forward from 2009-2011, but rescinded to minus-5.2 last season.

He's never been one for discipline, either. Drew has a career on-base percentage of .328, and struck out in over 23 percent of his at plate appearances last season.

The only thing he does bring to the table is time, and even that may be unnecessary.

With this move, Boston is obviously buying time for prospect Jose Iglesias. The 22-year-old could easily win a gold glove in the majors, but lacks any resemblance of a good bat.

Iglesias is a prototypical shortstop. He's a light hitter with some speed on the basepaths and a good glove. And right now it looks like the Sox want his bat to get better.

But the fact remains that Iglesias has never gotten a chance to prove himself in Boston. He played in just 25 games last season, and while he hit .118 he also had an unlucky .137 BABIP.

What he did prove in those 25 games was how good his glove could be, posting a 7.2 UZR.

Earlier in the offseason it looked like Boston would give Iglesias a chance. They shipped Mike Aviles to Toronto as compensation for manager John Farrell, opening the door at short. Signing Stephen Drew shuts that door.

The Red Sox continue to tease Iglesias with prospects of playing in Boston, just to shut him down at the next corner. And it may just be time to give him a trial by fire.

The fact remains that Boston's biggest issue is pitching. With plenty of powerful hitters in its lineup, the team has the flexibility to focus more on defense at other positions—such as shortstop.

By signing Stephen Drew, Boston is exchanging defense for offense. By using Iglesias, they are doing the opposite. And at the end of the season, both could emerge with the same exact value to Boston.

So why not go with the 22-year-old prospect—who could be the team's future at the position—over a 29-year-old DL machine who is going to do more harm than good to the pitching staff?

That's not even touching on the fact that they are, for whatever reason, paying Drew close to $10 million for this season.

It is just a one-year deal—and Boston does have the payroll flexibility—but that amount of money just seems absurd.

The AL East will be a gauntlet this season, and Boston is not in a position to compete. That front office needs to cut their losses and start building towards 2014 and beyond.

Which is why this signing is such a mistake.