“If you want to look at this from a straight objective standpoint, what he contributes offensively and then what he contributes defensively, and then add in baserunning, so it’s the total value of a player, on a rate basis, he was outstanding. And there aren’t too many outfielders who can compare to what he did from a qualitative standpoint… What he’s done in the first three years of that contract, the way we value . . . based on the free agent market, what he’s done qualitatively, and when you factor in even the amount he’s played over these three years, yeah, he’s actually come out to a tick more than $14 million per year.”
Really? Really? He's actually worth more than we're playing him? Unless we're talking pesos or zlotys here, I think Theo just took the Crazy Train to Loonyville. Who can possibly look at what J.D. Drew has done in Boston and coherently argue that he is worth more than his salary?
In his three years in Boston, Drew has never played more than 140 games in a season. He has never had more than 126 hits, has never hit 25 or more homers, has never reached 70 RBI or hit better than .280 in his three years in Boston. His average OPS for the three years is a respectable .896, although I personally would expect better from someone getting paid $14 million per year.
If you look at the 2009 stats, Drew ranks seventh among AL rightfielders in batting average, eighth in hits, fifth in homers and eighth in RBI. He does rank first in OPS, so credit must be given there. He also ranked first in fielding percentage for right-fielders in the AL in 2009. But this isn't about where he ranks alone; it is whether he is actually worth his contract. It's also worth pointing out that in 2008 and in 2007 he barely made the top 10 in any of these categories and was getting paid $14 million then as well.
But in 2009, here are some other right-fielders who equalled or exceeded Drew's production:
Shin-Soo Choo (Cleveland) 156 G .300 BA 20 HR 86 RBI 175 H .883 OPS 2009 Salary: $420,300
Nick Markakis (Baltimore) 161 G .293 BA 18 HR 101 RBI 188 H .801 OPS 2009 Salary: $3,350,000
Nick Swisher (New York) 150 G .249 BA 29 HR 82 RBI 124 H .869 OPS 2009 Salary: $5,400,000
Bobby Abreu (Anaheim) 152 G .293 BA 15 HR 103 RBI 165 H .825 OPS 2009 Salary: $5,000,000
Michael Cuddyer (Minnesota) 153 G .276 BA 32 HR 94 RBI 162 H .862 OPS 2009 Salary: $7,666,666
All these gentlemen also placed in the top 10 in fielding for right field. Were we to go back to 2008 and 2007, the list could be even larger. Now, is it entirely fair to add someone like Choo, who is under the Indians' control for years to come? Theo's argument is that Drew was "outstanding" on the total value of a player, so I think it is.
And what I see here is that there are more than a couple of right-fielders who are as good, if not better, than JD Drew and are getting paid substantially less. The two that really stick out, though, are Nick Swisher and Bobby Abreu. Of the five players listed above, both Swisher and Abreu were available before the 2009 season. The Sox could have traded for Swisher had they desired. And Abreu was on the free agent market for what felt like a millenium. And both players make slightly more than a third of what Drew costs the Red Sox.
Look, I don't blame Theo for trying to justify signing Drew to that insane five-year deal where the Sox bid against themselves. But this is Drew's three-year average with the Sox: 129 G .276 BA 18 HR 65 RBI 118 H .875 OPS Yearly Salary: $14,000,000.
Is that production worthy of that salary? Drew is one of the 30 highest-paid players in the majors. Does he produce like one of the top 30 players in the game? I don't think that you can ever pretend to make that argument.
Drew isn't a bad player, let's make that clear. But he is paid much more than his production warrants. And for Theo to actually argue he's a bargain? That's just flat-out insulting.