Thursday, December 23, 2004

Reasons to Expect a Full Season From J.D. Drew (Reasons, Not Answers)

From The State:

Drew has battled injuries throughout his big league career that began with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998. He hadn't played in more than 135 games in a season before last year.

A turning point came in October 2002 when he had surgery to remove the diseased portion of his right patella tendon.

"It was nasty," he said of his knee. "It affected me for two years, it limited my game."

It hampered his swing and contributed to other physical problems because he was compensating. Drew appeared in a career-low 100 games in 2003, hitting .289 with 15 homers and 42 RBIs.

St. Louis traded him to Atlanta last December.

"I had the opportunity last offseason to strengthen my leg," he said. "I went into last year not knowing how it would react. It reacted great. Every day it got stronger and stronger."

And that showed on the field.

"I'm looking forward to another healthy year," Drew said. "The thing I learned last year is the more you're on the field, the more consistent you can become."

...

Drew said he's been at the gym five days a week since Thanksgiving preparing for next season and will continue that kind of preparation until shortly before the start of spring training.

"Oh, man, it's great," he said. "I can do my leg workouts like I want to. I know how to maintain it now. I feel so much better. The benefit I have now is the experience, knowing how to handle it."


From Will Carroll (subscription required):

Drew, as I've noted in the past, would do better in center by avoiding the dangers of handling sharp turns in the corners, but one trainer pointed out to me that a park with ample foul territory would have roughly the same effect if he stayed in right.

From Ken Gurnick:

"Not to start a controversy," Drew told a Thursday press conference to announce his five-year contract, "but I'd like to start in center field. Playing behind Jim Edmonds [in St. Louis] and Andruw Jones [in Atlanta], there was no opportunity. You tip your cap and carry their Gold Gloves home for them. If the opportunity presents itself, I'd like to give it a shot."

General manager Paul DePodesta, clearly enjoying the moment in an otherwise rocky offseason, seemed fine with moving Bradley to right field to allow his new centerpiece to play center field.

"I don't anticipate it being a problem," DePodesta said. "I talked to Milton earlier in the winter about the possibility of him playing one of the corners if we made certain moves. He didn't really care. He said he'd fit in anywhere if we felt it would make the team better. We'll let it play itself out. We're in a great spot whoever ends up in the corner. Milton was unbelievable moving when we got [Steve] Finley, but he could end up in center field, too."

...

He said when his knee hurt, slamming on the brakes in the corner bothered it the most. He said he could play right or center, but in left field, "I'm a lost cause. It feels so odd to me."

Comments:
First off, nice blog. Even better than DodgerThoughts in my view, altough Weisman writes with a grace rarely matched in this genre. He's pretty good on the analytical side too--far better than my own efforts--but this is the meatiest Dodger blog in my view. I'm not entirely sold on the statistical methods, but it's definitely food for thought.

Anyhow, even without the new stadium changes, which seem to affect foul territory around the diamond more, it never struck me that Dodger Stadium had huge amounts of foul territory with regards to the outfielders. Would other commentators agree with that statement? That would incline me to think that we should put Drew in CF and Bradley in RF.

With regards to Drew's injury history, I vaguely remember Chipper Jones making some pointed comments about Drew's willingness to play through pain. I have some idea of how dangerous it is to label players soft or what-not, and I don't want to do that with Drew, but does anyone have a better fix on him with regards to "make-up" issues? I am hopeful, though, that he can stay healthy. The good thing, though, is that we do have some other options if he's hurt. I think Werth, Ledee, and Choi could all do a competent job of filling in for any downtime Drew might have.

WWSH

WWSH
 
I've heard that there is a lot of wear and tear that takes place on a CF. Both roberts and bradley have broken down a bit in the past. I wonder how many games drew will play in CF?
 
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