Five Reasons Why JD Drew Should Be Benched

JD Drew warms up before a game against the Baltimore Orioles.

The 2011 season has not been the most remarkable for Red Sox outfielder JD Drew. Just three years after being elected an All-Star in his second season with Boston (2008), Drew has hit a new kind of low, even for him.

Upper management and lasting Drew believers can continue to sugar-coat this guy's fading talent and justify the $70 million deal he signed in December 2006. But the bottom line is that Drew is hardly the player he was in his time with the St. Louis Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves.

While he coasts through the remainder of his contract with Boston (and possibly his career), here are five reasons why JD Drew should be benched.

  1. From 1999, his first full season, through the 2006 season - his last before joining the Red Sox, Drew was a career .285 hitter. He also averaged 20 home runs and 62 RBI in that stretch. At the time, Drew proved to be reliable middle-of-the-order guy at the plate. One key to his consistency may have been hitting against what, up until last year, had been considered the weaker of the two leagues - the National League. In his five years with the Red Sox, Drew's average is 20 points lower than it was through his first eight. His 16 HR/57 RBI are lower as well.
  1. The outfielder's on base percentage from 1999-2006 was consistently close to or above .400. Similarly, his OBP from 2007-2011 is .371. That's low for him. And so, when your general manager preaches that Drew is everything short of God in his welcome to Boston press conference - you expect those same results. The takeaway lesson here is that Theo Epstein could have found an outfielder with a near-identical OBP for a similar price and a higher level of production. Like Magglio Ordonez for instance.
  1. Aside from his 2007 postseason grand slam against Cleveland, Drew has been largely unreliable when needed the most. Take for example Sunday night's 16-inning game in Tampa Bay. With two outs and runners on first and third in the top of the ninth, Drew walked, loading the bases for Josh Reddick. In this situation, Drew should have tried to make contact to score Pedroia (who was on third). Instead he left the game up to the inexperienced Reddick. Drew gets paid to make plays, not draw a walk every time he stands in at the plate. I can't even count the number of times he has walked away from an at-bat without swinging at a single pitch.
  1. Reddick has earned playing time, so let him play. Drew has just about waved a white flag in surrender. There is not a single thing he does better than Reddick right now except maybe taking pitches - Reddick is better in every offensive category. Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald does a great job comparing the two in yesterday's paper.
  1. Through 230 plate appearances, Drew has just four home runs; Reddick has four in 87 chances. Sure the latter isn't as patient at the plate (nine walks compared to Drew's 33), but the Red Sox lead the majors in OBP, OPS (on base plus slugging), and walks. What the team needs right now is production from the bottom half of their lineup and Reddick is the long-term and more cost effective choice.
That's five reasons why Drew needs to either push or be pushed aside if he wants to win another World Series. There are plenty of other reasons to bench him, like the fact that he plays with as much intensity as the women do in the Lingerie Bowl. He has been one of the biggest disappointments of Epstein's reign as general manager. When the Red Sox get rid of him, they can finally say goodbye to their atrocious 2006 offseason that also included Julio Lugo and Daisuke Matsuzaka.

What exactly is the point of starting a 35-year-old corner outfielder who couldn't hit his way out of a paper bag anyway? This is a first place team primed for a deep postseason run, why not try out the 24-year-old Reddick before the trading deadline to see if a trade for someone (Carlos Beltran?) needs to be made. When your $70 million outfielder is hitting .222 through 76 games, a change needs to be made. Never mind the fact that he is making too much money to give up on because at this point, anyone would be better than him.

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