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According to the Boston Herald, Carl Crawford went on “six 90-foot jogs” Tuesday and is improving, but will still be sidelined for at least two more weeks, leaving a gaping hole in the outfield. After Crawford’s injury and the recent four-game losing-streak versus San Diego and Pittsburgh, the lack of depth and production out of the Red Sox outfielders, mainly from J.D. Drew, has been under a microscope.
The veteran right fielder has been terrible this season, hitting just .232/.330/.326 (career .279/.385/.492) and already has almost twice as many strikeouts (47) as walks (27). The time has come for Terry Francona to make changes; he put Darnell McDonald in the 5th spot the other day, and nothing came out of it. The right field spot can’t be a position of committee like a running back, but it’s a tough decision to make at the moment and one that needs to be made fast.
Rookie Josh Reddick has been playing well in place of Crawford, but is young and has shown inconsistencies in the past. He still needs time to develop, but in the same regard he hasn’t had the chance to play in a starting position for a while and get into a groove. Even though it’s unfortunate that Crawford is out, this gives Reddick a good chance to show Francona how he can play and win himself a spot.
Drew has always been a streaky hitter and it’s still before the All-Star game. It might be that he’s getting old and he isn’t over-exerting himself, or that since it’s his last season under his contract, he’s just ready to retire and couldn’t care less. Drew has never been the most passionate player, but when he can produce, he definitely helps the team and career-wise, he has solid stats. He’s just killing the Sox right now in the 5-spot while the Sox play in NL parks.
There’s been talk of possible trading for Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets, which would be a big move and if the universe plans on revolving the way it has in the past, Beltran would be a strong addition to the club. He’s a veteran, he isn’t afraid of pennant-race baseball, and he can smash. Obviously though, the issue is if Francona believes we really need him, and if it’s a wise decision to dump some more cash out into this season and go for the gold. Although the Sox went and got Adrian Gonzalez and Crawford this offseason, Gonzalez is definitely a franchise player and will be here awhile, and so will Crawford. So, the offseason moves aren’t necessarily a move for this year itself.
Another player the Sox have shown interest in is Josh Willingham of the Oakland Athletics. The lefty leads the A’s in home runs, and he would come cheaper, which would help, but he may not be the answer the Sox need if they’re looking to make a chase for the World Series this season.
It’s scary when the Sox lose four games in a row, but somehow the Sox have been able to fight in the division even with Drew’s atrocities. In the same regard, with Crawford out, it’s bothersome to think of how easy it would be to lose a grip on the second place spot in the AL East.
It would be safe to go out and get Beltran, but it might be stupid if Drew gets out of the funk and starts to put up his regular numbers. Then, we have two expensive right-fielders. But at the same time, this is Drew’s last year, so it might be smart to go out and get someone now because I wouldn’t want the Sox to re-sign Drew.
With everything said, after the Phillies, the Sox just go down to Houston, and then they come home and play the Jays and the Orioles and it’s the All-Star Break. I say let Reddick and Drew play. When Drew gets back from his eye injury, unleash him on some shabby Blue Jays and Orioles hitting, let him get on a roll, let him rest over the break, and so long as he hasn’t cashed in on this season, save the money for now until we know for sure if he’s a dud this season.
It’s definitely too early to make a decision, and the Sox want Drew to produce so they need to put him in a spot where he can. In the back-burner, maybe Reddick, Darnell McDonald or Mike Cameron can emerge while Crawford is hurt.
If one gets on a roll like Ellsbury or Lowrie during the playoffs a few years ago, maybe one of the rookies can land a regular spot. All in all, it wouldn’t be smart for the Sox to spend big money now, unless it’s a player they plan on keeping for a while. In that case, it’s worth the buy.