Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I've never considered myself a contrarian - to the contrary, actually - but I think I may be in the minority regarding the popular vote on yesterday's acquisitions of OF J.D. Drew and SS Julio Lugo. Forget about the ridiculous dollars for a moment, and don't compare J.D. to the other J.D. Different market, different year, and the long-haired J.D. is absolutely kicking himself over his poor timing. And let's forget about the ludicrous revolving door we've seen at shortstop since 2004.

Instead, let's focus on the present. The Red Sox could not go into the 2007 season with either Jason Varitek or Mike Lowell or Wily Mo Pena as their No. 5 hitter. There was nothing worse last year than watching Manny and Ortiz get on, and then become part of the LOB ledger. And it happened A LOT. Could they have plugged Bobby Abreu nicely into that slot? Absolutely, but after watching the erratic pitching last year, I truly believe that Theo assessed matters at the trading deadline and made the call that his team was going to be golfing in October. So he decided to pass on the Abreu/Cory Lidle package, the latter of whom has since tragically perished in a plane crash.

Surveying the free agents on the market this off-season, Theo wanted that No. 5 bat and he also wanted to improve the outfield defense, which was positively atrocious last year. The guy who gave him the most ability in both areas? J.D. Drew. If he stays healthy, and I understand what a huge 'if' that is, fans will come to appreciate his skills with the glove and he'll be a more than adequate five-hitter. In a way, and Chad at Touching All the Bases brings this up, maybe the atmosphere in Boston will make him even better than he's been. I'll take 140 GP, .280 BA, 15-20 HRs, 80-90 RBIs, and a solid glove. Is that worth $14M per? Is anything?

Lugo has long been the apple of Theo's eye, and most pundits really can't figure out why. He will not make us forget Alex Gonzalez anytime soon in the field, but Theo seemed bent on improving the offense from 1 through 9 and Lugo helps to accomplish that. He brings an element of speed to the table, and people are forgetting that he's played virtually his entire career with a glorified Triple-A team. Put him in a real major league lineup and let's see what he can before we judge. If Coco can regain his 2005 form, it will make Lugo that much better. Those two could be fun to watch at the top of the order.

As for the Manny charade, the latest scuttlebutt is that the man-child is staying. I applaud Theo for sticking to his guns and trying to get best value. For all his warts, you can't let this guy go for average talent. There's still a chance that he moves on, but the latest signals coming from Disney World indicate that teams are backing off. If Manny does leave, the signing of Drew becomes much more questionable.

The next steps? Signing Dice-K and finding someone to close the deal on his surefire 20 wins (ok, I'll settle for 17). Eric Gagne's name has been bandied about. A lower-base, incentive-laden deal could be intriguing.

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