Buster Olney on M&M: Stephen Drew 'an upgrade' for Red Sox

May 21, 2014 - 9:53 am
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ESPN'€™s Buster Olney joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to discuss the signing of Stephen Drew and the impact that the deal will have on Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. The Red Sox finally made a move to resolve their issues on the left side of the infield, signing Drew to a one-year deal for about $10 million. Last season, Drew was third amongst all shortstops in baseball with a .984 fielding percentage and was fourth on the team in RBIs with 67. "€œI don'€™t think there'€™s any question that it'€™s an upgrade over what they've had at this point. Really, the big fix would be Jacoby Ellsbury, but he isn't coming back," Olney said. "€œBut Stephen Drew at least gives them some stability. It'€™s pretty clear that the Red Sox have concerns about Xander Bogaerts'€™ defense and they want to work those out, so by putting him at third base you'€™re going to make yourself better at two positions. "€œTheir offensive production at third base has been some of the worst in baseball. ... They needed to push that forward, especially not knowing when Middlebrooks is coming back and if he'€™s going to be able to help. In talking with executives from other teams, they were like, '€˜That'€™s a good move for them,'€™ because [Drew] is a known quantity and they get him on a short-term deal, and they weren't going to get a draft pick anyway because no one was going to sign Drew before the draft." Olney continued: "I do know this for a fact, that the Red Sox internally did have real concerns that the Detroit Tigers, after the draft, were going to make a move on Drew because they need an upgrade at shortstop." The return of Drew creates questions for both Bogaerts, who will make the shift to third base, and Middlebrooks, who is sidelined with a fractured finger. "€œThe Red Sox are going to have to do some real hard-core convincing with Xander that this in not an indictment of his skills. ... He made it very clear, he'€™s disappointed with how this played out,"€ Olney said. "They made it clear with him going into the year, '€˜Hey, you'€™re the guy,'€™ and now they go to him and say, '€˜Well, we'€™ve got somebody else to play the position.'€™ That'€™s a hard thing for a young player to take." Olney added: "I do think there'€™s probably going to be some rehabilitation in terms of how Xander perceives how the team perceives him. ... I think that, given what else they have in the organization, they have to work that out. "With Will Middlebrooks, you do wonder, given the money they'€™re paying Stephen Drew, that unless there'€™s an injury that creates another opportunity for Will, if he'€™s going to wind up kind of being the way Mike Olt was with the Texas Rangers where at one point, he was a very touted prospect, someone that was part of the future, and then he wound up being part of a trade in midseason." With an offense that ranks 16th in baseball in runs (179) and 21st in home runs (35), the Red Sox may need to search for more power on the trade market in order to turn around their struggles at the plate. "€œWhen you see them in person, you realize that they don'€™t have a lot of power," Olney said. "You figure that whoever they go and trade for, it'€™s going to be someone who can thump it. Even if it'€™s on a part-time basis, the way that Daniel Nava did last year and the way that [Mike] Carp did for them last year. They'€™re lacking that guy. ... It will be interesting to see if they ever get to a point, in a year in which the division looks like it'€™s a total mud bog, if they would be willing to commit big-time prospects in any trade." Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Red Sox news, visit the team page at weei.com/redsox. On the possibility of the Red Sox trading for Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp: "€œI think that a Matt Kemp trade would be really, really difficult because of the amount of money involved. I don'€™t have it in front of me but I believe that it'€™s about a $120 million left. ... I think the more likely guy would be Andre Ethier, because he'€™s owed less money. It'€™s less complicated."€œ On whether any teams in the AL East seems poised to separate themselves from the rest of the pack: "[I think it'€™s] the Orioles. ... [The AL East] is all crushed by injuries. ... The Yankees have no idea if CC Sabathia is going to give them any more help. It may be that what he has ultimately could wind up having him have microfracture surgery and who knows after that. ... The Blue Jays have offensive potential, but I really think the Orioles, and I know some of the members of Red Sox believe this too, that between their improving starting pitching and the depth of their lineup ... that'€™s the team I think that probably makes [Boston] the most nervous."

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