Although no one appointed me the official spokesperson for Red Sox Nation, I believe I know what most of them are thinking right about now. Essentially it comes down to the fact that although we were prepared for something less then magical this season, at least give us something that’s not boring. I mean no one ever accused either of the Drew Brothers as being “Mr. Excitement”, but when the return of Stephen is being looked at as a way to rekindle some of last year’s emotion; then you know times have been tough.
It comes at an interesting time, as the discussion as to whether or not they should stay the course with their youngsters, namely Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, and Will Middlebrooks was really picking up. It seemed that the general feeling was that they would stay the course a bit longer, but you have to believe their rather weak offensive showing against the Tigers (two runs in three games) pushed some well placed buttons. It doesn’t help that the veteran presence that they were counting on has been lacking as well. Daniel Nava, last year’s feel good story, was sent to Pawtucket after hitting under .200; Shane Victorino has played just seventeen games, with 9 RBIs, and has not been the answer to their lead off spot problem; and the Grady Sizemore experiment, hitting .226, with 2HRS, has given no indication of ever being successful. Even though Jacoby Ellsbury‘s average has cooled to .276 after a strong start for the Yankees, it’s quite apparent that the Sox have no real replacement for him in the lineup, at least not yet.
I’m assuming that Drew will return to his starting shortstop position as soon as he is ready, and Bogaerts will be shifted back to third. This obviously leaves the oft-injured Middlebrooks as the odd man out. Although Boston seems reluctant to give up on his power (34 HRs, 112RBIs, in 190 games), his inability to stay healthy has become a real problem for them. Most of the pre-season chatter regarding Middlebrooks had him being used as trade bait at the end of the year, no matter how well he did. Maybe that will happen sooner rather then later, as names like Matt Kemp of the Dodgers and Adrian Beltre, are being floated about as possible immediate solutions.
As for the pitching, I have to believe that the entire staff will be very pleased to see Drew return. Although Bogaerts has shown improvement in the field, I can’t help but feel his tendency to finish games with a uniform that is a little too clean, is hardly appreciated. The other thing that would obviously help the staff is more run support, as that has been seriously lacking this year. The Red Sox currently rank 23rd in the MLB in hitting, with no one from the AL East below them.
Speaking of the East, compared to most of the rest of the division, the Sox have stayed relatively healthy, especially their pitchers; but their inability to hit with runners on base has meant they have completely wasted an opportunity to put some distance between themselves and at least a few of the teams in their division. Now, as those teams begin to get healthier, Boston is in real danger of slipping deeper into the bottom half of the division as the Summer heats up. Will the return of Drew help to prevent this? Probably not, but it’s a start.
Featured image courtesy of: Jared Wickerman/Getty Images
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