Boston Red Sox: 4 Replacements for J.D. Drew in Right Field in 2012
The Boston Red Sox J.D. Drew Experience has come to a close.
After five years and $70 million dollars, most fans in Red Sox Nation will forever equate Drew with his $14 million grand slam during the Game 6 of the 2007 ALCS against the Cleveland Indians to force a Game 7.
A high-water mark in his career, since that moment Drew has been plagued with various injuries and never really lived up to his potential or his contract.
Now that it has become clear the Red Sox will not be re-signing him in free agency this off-season, here are four replacements the Red Sox could bring in for Drew in right field in 2012.
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Not only does he play a ton of positions, both infield and outfield, he also has a track record of being a solid defensive player. Cuddyer could easily slide from right field to first base to designated hitter when the situation called upon it, without having a hole in the lineup.
Coming off a season where he was awarded his first All-Star Game, Cuddyer has been building upon a few productive years behind the plate and would be a pretty close offensive replacement to J.D. Drew.
And then there is the fact that Cuddyer does not have the health or injury issues that Drew has experienced in the past. In the last three seasons, Drew played in a high of 139 games; in the same time period, 139 represents the fewest number of games in which Cuddyer appeared.
Yoenis Cespedes is the latest Cuban baseball sensation on the market. The Boston Red Sox have already been courting Cespedes, sending a few high ranking members of the baseball operations team to the Dominican Republic to observe his skills first hand.
Cespedes has the ability to play both right field and center, which would give Boston a very quick, and pretty young outfield. Assuming Carl Crawford's 2011 campaign was a blip on an otherwise excellent career, the Red Sox outfield could be one that will be exciting to watch in 2012.
The big question mark with Cespedes is his bat. No doubt Cuba produces some outstanding young talent, but the transition to the Majors can be a hard one to gauge. To hedge their bets, the Red Sox could start him out in Triple-A Pawtucket to gauge his progression, while platooning Ryan Kalish and Josh Reddick in right field.
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Certainly a more proficient batter than J.D. Drew, in 2011, Beltran had another All-Star year and ended the season with a .300 average, .910 OPS and 22 homers, all while playing at Citi Field and AT&T Park, two established pitchers' stadiums. Beltran could also be used by the Red Sox as a slide-in DH at times.
Given his age, 34, Beltran still has excellent defensive skills, which could come in handy in the notoriously difficult right field at Fenway Park.
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Now a free agent from the Oakland A's, outfielder Josh Willingham should be someone the Red Sox have their eye on.
Bringing in 29 home runs and 98 RBIs in 2011, he provides a pop at the plate and a right-handed arm in the outfield. He would be able to add another dimension of power to a Red Sox lineup that already had the most runs and RBIs in the MLB in 2011.
Granted, Oakland had him primarily as a left fielder, but he can certainly make the transition to Fenway's right field, and would be a solid replacement for J.D. Drew.