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Eric Wilbur's Sports Blog

Blame Cherington, Not the Media, For the Red Sox Signing Stephen Drew

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AP Photo

Everyone enjoying Stephen Drew, 2.0?

It was a rather wildly successful weekend for the Red Sox' $9.5 million panic plug in Detroit. Drew picked up his first hit of the 2014 season during Saturday's loss to the Tigers, and even managed to play in two straight games for the first time all year, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout in Sunday's win, when David Ortiz rescued Boston with a three-run home run in the ninth inning.

Brock Holt, leading off and making his first career start in left field - a move necessitated by the Drew signing and accompanying move of rookie Xander Bogaerts to third - was 4- for-5 with a nifty catch on the warning track. For only the third time in the past 12 games, Bogaerts went without a hit. He's 6- for-29 (.207) with two home runs since moving to third in order to accommodate Drew.

Since Bogaerts found out on May 20 that he would be moving to his right to make room for the Sox' reunion with its 2013 shortstop, the kid has hit .338 with a .974 OPS. He's gotten on base at a .411 clip, smacked three home runs, and driven in 10. Holt hasn't missed a beat either, batting .365 with a .389 OBP and 13 runs scored over 19 games playing third, first, and now left. Neither player has seemed to wilt offensively under the pressure of Drew coming aboard. Bogaerts has made one error at third; Holt has made one at first.

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Of course, Bogaerts had made six errors at shortstop, including two on May 20, when the Sox officially announced the Drew acquisition. But they were his first two at the position since April 29, and on the long list of travails that plague the 2014 Red Sox, his defense wasn’t exactly what was holding the team back.

Nobody is arguing Drew’s defensive hierarchy in that regard, and maybe his bat will, eventually, lead to some more consistency against righthanded pitching, against which Boston is an MLB-worst 15-25 this season, but the Sox are also one Ortiz swing away from being 0-6 with Drew on the roster.

As if the situation weren't odd enough to begin with, it got a whole lot weirder Saturday night, when baseball encyclopedia Peter Gammons suggested that Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington was in some way reacting to media pressure when he pulled the trigger on Drew last month.

Gammons went on to explain to confused baseball writers, including the Globe’s Nick Cafardo and the Herald’s John Tomase, that Bogaert’s shift served a pair of purposes for agent Scott Boras – a job for his client Drew, and a “wedge between Bogaerts (also a Boras client) and management,” the latter hinting that the 21-year-old shoe-in for AL Rookie of the Year might take the developments under serious consideration when it comes time to discuss a long-term deal with Boston.

Bogaerts can become a free agent….in 2020.

On Monday, Gammons joined WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan Show” to discuss whether Drew was really signed because of “the media’s admiration for Stephen Drew.”

“I think so,” Gammons said, noting that Bogaerts had the second-highest WAR among all major league shortstops behind only Colorado’s Troy Tulowitski. “Listen, I have great admiration for Scott Boras who did a great job orchestrating all this, because there really weren’t other major options for Stephen Drew to go to. And Stephen does love Boston and so forth, but there was so much, about ‘oh Bogaerts can’t play short.’ The fact is, when you get into a situation which they’re in which you’re trying to develop young players and contend at the same time you go through some periods.

“It wasn’t like Bogaerts was terrible. I thought there was so much made of ‘you have to have Stephen Drew , you have to have Stephen Drew.’ [Will] Middlebrooks is hurt, but what is the long-term impact of that?

“There are so many political angles at play here, that you just kind of wonder what are they going to be a year from now?”

Of course, Gammons also lashed out at Dan Shaughnessy last month, when the Globe columnist characterized the Sox’ infield as “the Bogaerts-Middlebrooks left-side failure.” On Monday, as if to support Gammons’ theory on who’s really running the show on Yawkey Way, Cafardo laid out why Bogaerts’ move to third was in the best interest of Scott Boras the Red Sox; slick-fielding Deven Marrero, the shortstop at Double-A Portland, whose defensive superiority in regards to Bogaerts is “not even close,” according to one scout. If Scott Boras the Red Sox envision Marrero as the long-term solution at shortstop, Boston’s definition of Bogaerts as a third baseman makes sense.

Oh, did we mention that Scott Boras just happens to be Marrero’s agent as well?

Conspiracy theories and media manipulation aside, the BBWAA isn’t offering contracts last I checked. If critics of the Drew deal want to point the finger at anyone, there’s really nobody else to blame except Cherington and the Red Sox for being held hostage by Boras. At best, media takes on Drew re-joining the team were split. We know the players and coaches wanted Drew back. Wouldn’t they, just maybe, have more sway with Cherington than a few loudmouth writers? (But if that is the case, boy, Ben, do I have a deal for you.)

“What does this really accomplish when in fact when the greater need in my mind was another bat particularly in the outfield,” Gammons said. “So you take $10 million, you put it in Stephen Drew, now Middlebrooks comes back and he sits and goes to Pawtucket and they don’t have that bat in the outfield. I just think that it got a little crazy and I really felt, day-in, day-out that it was as if I had to believe and hear that it was Bogaerts’ fault that they weren’t winning. And I just thought that was silly.”

It does beg the question as to exactly who is pulling the strings, and if it is indeed Boras in Cherington’s head, then shame on the Red Sox. Don’t blame the media for this blunder.

"Stephen is still trying to get his feet on the ground with rhythm and timing at the plate," Boston manager John Farrell said. "We felt like that was the move to be made."

With the Red Sox 28-34, nine games out of first place in the AL East. Good time for Stephen Drew to get his feet wet with a team that is supposed to be contending.


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