Friday, October 25, 2013
Farrell sticking with SS Drew despite slump
By Gordon Edes
ST. LOUIS -- Red Sox manager John Farrell sees the same at-bats you do. He knows the numbers as well as you do: 4-for-42, .095, 15 strikeouts, 1 extra-base hit, 2 runs scored and 2 RBIs in 12 postseason games.
The difference between Farrell and many of you? He believes the Red Sox are better with Stephen Drew in the starting lineup than you do, which is why Drew will remain at shortstop for Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday night.
He is struggling at the plate, but Stephen Drew has been excellent up the middle at shortstop.
That's how much value Farrell places on Drew's defense, as he reiterated again here Friday afternoon.
"It's been critical," Farrell said. "While he has had his struggles -- they're well-documented; we live it with him -- but he has played such a strong defensive position at shortstop. [Thursday] night there were three or four plays he makes that might otherwise have built into a potential inning for the Cardinals.
"You can go to [ALCS] Game 6 in Inning 7 where he saves a run with two outs, throws out [Miguel] Cabrera, then we come back and [Shane] Victorino hits a grand slam to give us the lead."
What Farrell could do, if he elected to take out Drew, would be to move rookie Xander Bogaerts to short and restore Will Middlebrooks to a starting role at third base. Bogaerts, however, is 0-for-6 with four strikeouts in the first two games of the Series after going 3-for-6 with 3 doubles, 3 walks and 4 runs against the Tigers. Middlebrooks, meanwhile, is 4-for-23 (.174) in the playoffs and has not had a plate appearance since Oct. 16.
It's clear that Drew is not going to sit, just as manager Terry Francona in 2004 elected to ignore calls for the Sox to play Pokey Reese at second base instead of Mark Bellhorn when Bellhorn was 1-for-14 through the first four games of the ALCS. Bellhorn, who was valued more for his offense than his glove, responded with a couple of hits in Game 5, then hit home runs in the final two games of the series in New York.
"He's such a steadying force for us up the middle and on the infield in general," Farrell said of Drew. "In games that we anticipate being played, defense is a premium. The first two games are a prime example. You give an opponent an extra out, you see what happens. It's happened on both sides, whether it's [Craig Breslow's] throw last night or in Game 1, where we were able to capitalize on some defensive inconsistencies on the other side.
"So his defense up the middle is a premium."
This might come as a surprise: In his first postseason exposure, with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2007, Drew hit well, batting .387. That included the 2007 division series against the Chicago Cubs, in which he batted .500 (7-for-14) with two home runs, a double and a triple. Granted, that was six years ago, but would seem to contradict any suggestion that he can't handle the big stage. Last season with the A's, he hit .221 (4-for-19) in five ALDS games against the Tigers.