When Sully Baseball was in its infancy, I got into an internet argument with several Red Sox fans.
They all wanted J. D. Drew.
I didn’t want the Sox to touch him with a cattle prod.
The J. D. Drew crew were all stat heads who were screaming about his OPS, his power, his ability to get on base and thought I was some stuck up fool for not seeing it.
I kept saying “He plays well when he has a contract on the line and is hurt all the other years.”
I pointed out that he wore out his welcome in St. Louis, jumped ship in both Atlanta and Los Angeles following his only 2 seasons of note.
I was practically holding candlelight vigils to keep Drew from signing with the Sox.
And when he did, I wrote an early post explaining how the Sox should compensate a player who I thought was going to be a flop.
I felt that signing Drew for 5 years was going to be a disaster and there is no way he will live up to it and he will be on the DL for long stretches and not put up the numbers.
The contract is over. Let’s review.
So let’s review…
He gave the Red Sox 140 games once, his first year. That was also the only year he made 550 plate appearances.
He never hit 25 homers.
He never got more than 126 hits.
He never drove in 70 runs.
He never walked 85 times.
He struck out 100 or more times three times.
His average peaked at .280.
He cracked the top 10 of OPS once.
He was mediocre and injury plagued.
And his $14 million a year salary is coming off the books.
That’s a good thing.
And I turned out to be right about J. D. Drew.
Except I am saluting him and I believe all Red Sox fans should do the same.
Lest we forget some of the great memories that J. D. Drew gave Sox fans.
And when the Sox loaded the bases with nobody out in the first, it looked like they were going to squander the opportunity to draw first blood. Drew came up with 2 outs and the bases still juiced and still no score. Fausto Carmona was going to get out of it when he went 3-1 on Drew. Every Sox fan (including one that Fox cut to) thought “Just walk J. D. Get a run on the board.”
He drove one deep to center… maybe an out.
Sizemore went back… maybe a double.
And it cleared the wall. NOBODY was thinking grand slam. Even Carmona’s reaction was “Are you F—ing Kidding Me?”
Bill Simmons called it the $70 million homer. The Red Sox took control and Game 7 was inevitable. Drew drove in another run for good measure.
In Game 7, he drove in a key insurance run in the 8th as the Red Sox won the pennant.
In the World Series against Colorado, he drove in 2 runs in the opener and got 2 hits in Game 2 as the Red Sox rolled.
But his greatest moments came in 2008, his lone All Star year for the Sox.
His home run in Yankee Stadium earned him All Star MVP honors.
Then in the Division Series he clubbed a go ahead homer off of Francisco Rodriguez to win Game 2 on the road.
In the ALCS against the Rays, he hit a home run to pull the Sox to within in and clubbed the walk off 9th inning hit giving the Red Sox the mindboggling 7 run deficit erasing victory in Game 5.
The Sox lost that series, but that Game 5 victory is still one of the great moments in recent Red Sox history.
So no, Drew wasn’t worth the 5 years. He was never an elite player. I was right that he would spend a lot of time hurt and not living up to the potential.
But my goodness… he contributed big time to winning a World Series title and the next year gave us all thrills and the wonderful image of a Red Sox player being honored in Yankee Stadium.
That’s got to be worth something.
So salute him, Red Sox fans and NOT with the middle finger.
He’s got a World Series ring on his finger and he earned it.
That’s got to be worth SOME love still.