The Boston Red Sox don't always follow the same wavelength as the rest of the baseball world. After trading away nearly all of their expensive veterans to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer, most folks thought the Sawx would look to rebuild with inexpensive young players this year.
So much for that.
Boston has signed Shane Victorino (32), Jonny Gomes (32), David Ross (35), Ryan Dempster (35), Koji Uehara (37) and Mike Napoli (31)—if that deal goes through. Now they've added Stephen Drew, a player who hasn't been healthy in two years, for one year and $9 million.
It's the sort of interesting (or perplexing, depending on whom you ask) signing that perfectly embodies the odd approach the Red Sox have taken to this year's free-agent market.
Drew has played 165 games total in the past two seasons. In that time, he's hit 12 home runs and 73 RBI. He hit .252 in 2011 and .223 last year.
Once thought to be one of the more promising shortstops in the game with the Arizona Diamondbacks, Drew's inability to stay healthy has plagued him and stymied his growth. It's possible that he'll end up being a bargain for the Sawx, but it's also possible the team is taking a very, very expensive gamble that won't pay off.
When you look at this team, there is talent—but how much? Was the approach of adding slightly above-average and overpaid veterans really the right move?
Yes, Dustin Pedroia still has game. So does Jacoby Ellsbury, if he sticks around and decides to like Boston again. Ortiz and Napoli in the middle of the order are solid but hardly devastating. Victorino has regressed and was dramatically overpaid (and this is coming from a huge Flyin' Hawaiian fan).
The pitching staff still needs help. The lineup is questionable. The fans don't really trust the organization that much. And the front office's plan—as laid out by Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe—won't win the team many fans:
The Sox have a strategy and it’s risky. They don’t want to invest a lot of money in one player for a long-term deal. Call it the Crawford Syndrome. Instead, the Sox are investing their Dodger deal savings ($161 million came off the future payroll) in an attempt to be respectable while they rebuild through scouting and player development.
In a word, the Red Sox's approach to free agency has been...
In other words, "Hey, we got these players so we're somewhat decent but really, we're totally overhauling this team and we're okay if we suck this year. Sorry, guys."
That's what the signing of Drew says to me, much like the signings of most of these other players. No more huge contracts for big stars, at least not for now. No complete rebuild, either. Just enough somewhat talented players to keep things interesting.
Or, in the case of Drew, just enough of the potential for a breakout year to keep fans intrigued. Chances are high that the Red Sox won't be very good this year.
They've done just enough to ensure you tune in and find out, though.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets are still shuddering.