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Monday, August 01, 2011

Sullivan: J.D. Drew Closure: Remembering Him in the Appropriate Light

Or as my kid said when first seeing the J.D. Drew Rookie Card...“THAT’S the new Mickey Mantle?”

To paraphrase, for (Bill) Simmons, there were a couple “solid” seasons “from a saber standpoint” but he lacked Trot Nixon’s fire and Drew’s personality was probably never meant for Boston (Boston’s a really special place, you guys!) but a big part of the reason that Adrian Gonzalez’s deal is working out so well is that his personality fits here. That’s the lunacy that passes for real analysis while actual evidence to the contrary is right there to check out for anyone inclined to take the time. How is Bill Simmons explaining which “lessons” Theo Epstein can learn about baseball personnel any different than Kige Ramsey lecturing Simmons on the finer points of building a strong internet brand?

...Nothing against Mike Lowell, of course, but the contrast of Drew and Lowell ties together why their incongruous treatment by the media matters. Lowell can come back to Boston any time, sign some autographs, make some money, do some television and never purchase a meal of his own. Really, he is something of a local hero. On the other hand, despite both his team and personal successes, the media climate has made for a difficult five years in Drew’s case. If he chooses to retire, I wouldn’t blame him for never returning to Boston again. In short, media treatment impacts lives, and their unfair treatment of Drew has undeservedly made his life worse than it otherwise could have been. That might not resonate with some readers because Drew’s wealthy, but there’s more to life than money. Drew accepted a contract offered to him and honored that contract by playing it out with professionalism. The boos and the media hit jobs were never part of the deal.

Repoz Posted: August 01, 2011 at 06:25 PM | 31 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, history, media, red sox, sabermetrics

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   1. YearOfGlad Posted: August 01, 2011 at 06:52 PM (#3890447)
JD Drew Addresses the Dogs:

"Who, exactly, um, let you guys out? Not like I'm gonna narc or anything...."
   2. Dale Sams Posted: August 01, 2011 at 06:56 PM (#3890451)
Amen.

And for the billionth time: JD's OPS at this time in 2007 was about 100 points higher than Crawford's is now. For 6 million less.

And while Crawford gets a lot of stick...it's nothing compared to the hellfire-fueled shitstorm JD got.
   3. Tripon Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:12 PM (#3890465)

And for the billionth time: JD's OPS at this time in 2007 was about 100 points higher than Crawford's is now. For 6 million less.

And while Crawford gets a lot of stick...it's nothing compared to the hellfire-fueled shitstorm JD got.


2007 was a major offensive year vs. 2011 year of the Pitcher: Part II.
   4. Bob Tufts Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:13 PM (#3890467)
He never learned to go all Lou Piniella/Paul O'Neill/Kevin Youklis every once in awhile to convince people that he cared deeply.
   5. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:15 PM (#3890468)
J.D. always looks like he's suffering from depression.
   6. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:24 PM (#3890472)
Drew patrolled RF in Fenway better than anyone since Dewey.

He hit .235/.257/.441 in 3 ALDS, .306/.382/.469 in 2 ALCS, and .333/.412/.467 in his only WS.

He's toasty and it's probably time to hang them up, he could be maddening at times with his passivity at the plate, but he was a fine player and to the best of my knowledge a class act.
   7. Dave Spiwak Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:27 PM (#3890474)
The headline makes it seem like he died.
   8. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:28 PM (#3890475)
I like J.D. Drew and think he's had a heck of a career. I also think he has been a bit of a disappointment with the Sox. 2007 & 2010 were down years and 2011 has been awful. He was very very good in both 2008 and 2009 and as the full article says for a guy with a "soft" rep he has a bunch of huge post-season hits for this club (2008 ALDS Game Two, 2008 ALCS Game Five times two, the $14 million Grand Slam).

I wasn't expecting dramatically better but I was expecting more than we got.
   9. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:31 PM (#3890479)
I think, essentially, Drew's problem is he seemed business-first rather than baseball-first for pretty much his whole career. It's not a fault, obviously, but fandom is based for a lot of people on some kind of tenuous idea of shared passion which Drew was totally incapable of expressing. He's actually kind of fascinating that way. He never played for a team I follow and for me he's a complete blank. There is nothing about JD Drew that has been memorable for me at all. (Again, I don't mean this as an attack on him, just expressing my own experience as a baseball fan.)
   10. Kurt Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:40 PM (#3890486)
Disagree with the last sentence of the excerpt - boos and media hit jobs are always part of the deal.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:41 PM (#3890488)
The boos and the media hit jobs were never part of the deal.

I sympathise with the sentiment of the article but Drew has been taking boos and media hits since the day he stepped on a ML field. He was unloved by fans and especially some members of the media everywhere he played -- through no fault of his own.* He was naive if he thought that, in Boston of all places, things would be different.

If I remember correctly, the LA media jerks hated the contract the day it was signed. Then they ridiculed the idea of the opt-out clause because nobody would be dumb enough to sign him for more but they hoped he would use it. Then they ridiculed him for being dumb enough to exercise the opt-out. Then they called him a traitor** for signing with Boston.

* except for the Philly decision ... which wasn't a "fault" but at least was his own decision.

** I don't think they called him a "traitor" literally but I can't think of another term here. Disloyal maybe? Maybe just greedy?
   12. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:42 PM (#3890489)
I believe Mr. Drew took part in the Dodgers' epic back-to-back-to-back-to-back come-from-behind home run parade in the ninth inning versus the Padres circa 2006. He may also have been involved in a similar Red Sox feat the next year. He also hit a certain playoff grand slam in 2007. I remember these things as a non-Red Sox fan, but, admittedly, a Dodgers fan.
   13. flournoy Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:43 PM (#3890491)
The headline makes it seem like he died.


He might as well have. This wasn't the first time I've been surprised to remember that J.D. Drew is still in the big leagues. He's completely dropped off my radar ever since he left the NL.
   14. SoSH U at work Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:45 PM (#3890493)
Drew patrolled RF in Fenway better than anyone since Dewey.


I don't have anything against J.D. Big grand slam forgave any sub-par performance sins, but I don't see any way his days as a Sox RFer - offensively, defenisvely, peak, overall - topped Trot's. He was better than Darren Bragg, Billy Hatcher or Tom Brunansky.

He may also have been involved in a similar Red Sox feat the next year.


He was, part of a back-to-back-to-back-to-back effort against the Yankees, which, when the Yankee: ordinary opponent exchange rate is applied, is the equivalent of back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers.
   15. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: August 01, 2011 at 07:53 PM (#3890497)
Drew was a MUCH better defender than Trot and at worst Nixon's equal offensively. I would argue a bit better than Trot offensively based on a bit more OBP but I'm not so convinced of that that I'll argue the point in any meaningful way.

What's funny about Drew is that he is the kind of guy fans say they want to see. He never shows anyone up, runs out everything and his fundamentals are flawless. If you want to teach a kid to play the outfield or run the bases, have him watch Drew. I think Shooty is right that if he wasn't on a team you followed, he would not be memorable at all.
   16. Dale Sams Posted: August 01, 2011 at 08:00 PM (#3890504)
2007 was a major offensive year vs. 2011 year of the Pitcher: Part II.


JD 2007 OPS+ : 107
CC 2011 OPS+ 76

and re-Trot: And they will both have played about the same number of games per season as full-time players! Trot was on the DL 5 times from 2004-2008...JD, twice from 2007-2011
   17. Padraic Posted: August 01, 2011 at 08:07 PM (#3890512)
Might the problem be that he never had more than 68 RBI in a season with Boston? In a great park, with lots of good hitters hitting in front of him?

While RBI might not be the best measure of talent (in fact, a bad one), they sure as heck tend to stick in the mind of people watching the games.
   18. Nasty Nate Posted: August 01, 2011 at 08:07 PM (#3890514)
Its a good article, I like the comparisons to the other OF free agents signed that offseason that really were busts (Soriano, Lee, Matthews).

I think it's a fair treatment for me to fondly remember his yearly contributions and his big postseason moments (The GS is a little overrated IMHO, his game 5 performance the following year was more important to me) but also roll my eyes a little at him being a last-minute scratch on opening day and also having no observable reaction to Ellsbury stealing home right in front of him.
   19. Answer Guy Posted: August 01, 2011 at 08:18 PM (#3890523)
The issues w/ Drew aren't unique to Boston. He's not a warm and fuzzy kinda guy. That makes it hard for him to become a fan favorite.

All in all it wasn't a terrible contract. He's not really a viable starter on a good teams anymore, but he gave us fans a few good years. That 5th year was in a way a bad break for Drew since he might have gotten another deal, in Boston or elsewhere, had his contract been up a year or two sooner.

But it looks like he's done in Boston and that's probably fine for both player and team.
   20. Nasty Nate Posted: August 01, 2011 at 08:19 PM (#3890527)
..and the Simmons' quotes in the article (which are referred to in the excerpt) are completely idiotic. It's ridiculous that he tries to pull the "if you were watching every day, you would know Drew's numbers are empty" when he has been out of touch with the team and its fandom since he moved out West.
   21. SoSH U at work Posted: August 01, 2011 at 08:23 PM (#3890530)
..and the Simmons' quotes in the article (which are referred to in the excerpt) are completely idiotic. It's ridiculous that he tries to pull the "if you were watching every day, you would know Drew's numbers are empty" when he has been out of touch with the team and its fandom since he moved out West.


Simmons is an idiot, at least when it comes to baseball (and probably other sports, I don't follow them as closely so I can't say). At this point, I don't see how his analysis is any different than other MSM guys, except he doesn't even have the access to these guys' that the beat guys/working columnists do to give his armchair psychoanalysis even a veneer of respectability.
   22. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: August 01, 2011 at 08:23 PM (#3890532)
The GS is a little overrated IMHO


Had the Sox not scored there, that game easily could have gone the other way even though it became a blow out. For what it's worth, that was as apeshit as I ever remember a Fenway crowd going, it was madness in a way I have rarely experienced in that place.

That said I agree that game five in 2008 was bigger. That was a monster effort in a huge spot.
   23. Nasty Nate Posted: August 01, 2011 at 08:41 PM (#3890548)
Simmons is an idiot, at least when it comes to baseball (and probably other sports, I don't follow them as closely so I can't say). At this point, I don't see how his analysis is any different than other MSM guys,


What's sad is that when he started, he was a good alternative to the MSM guys and his writing on the Sox was enjoyable. He used to be able to successfully write partially using his fan perspective. Now he is the out-of-touch guy who flies in to sit in box seats for ALCS games and half-assedly writes annual "The Sox have no personality this year" columns. Maybe this ownership/management is not conducive to giving him good material. His criticisms of Francona and Theo are bizarre (he knocks Theo for signings that he never actually made, just because he had interest in players who didn't turn out great, Pavano, Contreras etc.)
   24. Nasty Nate Posted: August 01, 2011 at 08:47 PM (#3890549)
Had the Sox not scored there, that game easily could have gone the other way even though it became a blow out.


That's true in general, but that game seems like one of the worst examples of it I can think of; Fausto was a sitting duck and they would have chased him early even if Drew's hit gets caught on the track, I would have to imagine.
   25. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: August 01, 2011 at 08:59 PM (#3890556)
He's not a warm and fuzzy kinda guy. That makes it hard for him to become a fan favorite.
I think this really understates it. Drew not merely a little less warm and fuzzy than the next guy - he's almost entirely without affect, at least in the public eye. The dude can hit a walk off and explain it to Heidi like he's talking about a pretty good bowl of soup he made. And it's not like he's just quiet with the media - in between the walk-off and the interview he'll be surrounded by celebrating teammates and barely move a muscle in his face.

Now, there's nothing wrong with that on a baseball level, and I think people making a big deal of Drew's temperament fail miserably to explain why it matters on a baseball level. But I think it's important to say that Drew is a man of distinctly odd temperament, at least in its public presentation.
   26. zack Posted: August 01, 2011 at 09:31 PM (#3890582)
Hey, some of us just don't know how to show emotion. Doesn't mean we don't care.

This is just blatant robophobist slander.
   27. Buzzkill Posted: August 01, 2011 at 09:51 PM (#3890599)
What I want to know is if Reddick is the real deal - from what I read he has really upped his game this year, surprisingly - will he stick and start everyday next year?

in 2010 with Pawtucket he had almost 500 PA's and went .266 / .301 / .466
   28. Drew (Primakov, Gungho Iguanas) Posted: August 01, 2011 at 09:56 PM (#3890602)
..and the Simmons' quotes in the article (which are referred to in the excerpt) are completely idiotic. It's ridiculous that he tries to pull the "if you were watching every day, you would know Drew's numbers are empty" when he has been out of touch with the team and its fandom since he moved out West.


The best is when Simmons tries to talk about hockey. It basically consists of the 1988 team, then fast-forwarding to after they won the Cup.
   29. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: August 01, 2011 at 11:36 PM (#3890658)
Nixon sort of reminded me of Butch Hobson. He didn't snort coke, AFAICT, but he was a football player and brought that attitude toward the game. He might have had a longer career if he was less of a dirt dog. Pete Reiser was like that 70 years ago. Ritter and Honig may have been impressed, but Bill James wasn't.
   30. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: August 02, 2011 at 01:03 AM (#3890722)
Its a good article, I like the comparisons to the other OF free agents signed that offseason that really were busts (Soriano, Lee, Matthews).
Interestingly, I thought that the weakest part of the article. There's no dispute--obviously--that Soriano, Lee and Matthews were busts in a way Drew never was, but that doesn't really tell me that Drew isn't a bust. Yao Ming and Shawn Bradley are both much taller than Michael Jordan, but Michael is still tall. That kind of comparison doesn't do anything for me.

It seems like Drew had one really great year in Boston (2009), a couple of decent ones (2007-08), one mediocre (2010) and one disaster (2011). That's probably a little less than what the Sox were hoping for, but as noted, he had some huge hits in the playoffs, so it balances out.
   31. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: August 02, 2011 at 02:08 AM (#3890814)
Drew was a MUCH better defender than Trot
Yeah, I specifically meant my comment about patrolling RF as being about defense, though he's almost certainly also the most valuable Sox RFer since Dewey too.

What I will remember and miss about Drew is his graceful play in the field, a pleasure to watch.

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