The boys are back in Fort Myers, and there are 30-plus days until the 2010 season begins with the BoSox against the Bronx Bombers—could the season start off any other way, I ask?
I will say I am so excited about the new members of the Red Sox. John Lackey, without a doubt, ups our five-man rotation. CF Mike Cameron, although another aging player, will be able to handle the big gap in Boston as long as he stays healthy. My favorite addition is Marco Scutaro at short. Anticipate some great plays coming from him. Although I have unsettled feelings about our older players and their bench positions, I believe Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek will be great men and leaders, no matter what happens. They'll do whatever it takes. I've had to accept aging players even though it's hard to watch. It disappoints me more when a player doesn’t know when to retire, and no, I am not talking about anyone in particular.
Although what's interesting to me is that for some reason—maybe there isn’t enough to talk about around the Red Sox Spring Training camp—JD Drew is approached and criticized about his lack of aggressiveness, every year. I have to defend JD being from Georgia myself. We are steady as she goes, folks. Those sails may be snapping in the wind, but that rudder is quietly cutting through the water to guide the boat home to safety. This is JD...that quiet calm in the storm—the storm being Youk. That’s another story.
Let’s look at JD’s career in Boston for the last three years. Yes, you can argue his injuries and lack of enthusiasm, but you can’t disprove his stats. He is a steady, consistent player. I am not saying that he can stand up to Dwight Evans' stats, or the personality of Trot Nixon, but in the last three years JD's put up very good numbers. Last season was comparable to his 2007 season with 452 ABs, 126 hits (30 of which were doubles), but smacked 24 HRs, which was highest HR record in Boston. He has a career .896 OPS. JD Drew is a consistent and calm fellow. Now, I am not saying that I wouldn’t like to see the JD Drew of 2004 when he carried a .305 batting average with 31 homeruns and a 1.006 OPS with Atlanta. That was an impressive year, but baseball isn't about looking back when a player is aging. JD Drew is going to be 35 years old this November. As we've seen every year with Jason Varitek and Mikey Lowell, age will catch up with him. I am just hoping it's not this year.
In conclusion, it's important to say that no matter the players' ages, it's all about their condition and ability to stand 160-plus games throughout the season. Again, it is up to Tito to rest players when he needs to, and make sure he shuffles players often enough to keep them on their "A" game. We have an incredibly deep bench this season and if Tito and his staff play it right, we'll go all the way this year.
Hang on Tito Red Sox Nation will be watching and waiting for the boys to take it all the way.