Patience needed with Drew, Hermida

From Ted Williams to Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Dwight Evans and Manny Ramirez, the Boston Red Sox have a long tradition of featuring some of the top outfield hitters in baseball.

As I type this, their options are Jeremy Hermida, Bill Hall, Darnell McDonald and J.D. Drew. Hmm, not exactly in the same class.

However, a few of the members in the current mishmash that makes up Fenway's not-so-finest do have varying degrees of value for fantasy leaguers, and shouldn't simply be glossed over. It's going to be a few weeks, at least, until we see Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron return to their regular duties from DL stints, so this is what we have to work with, and we might as well deal with it.

I for one see rays of hope with Drew and Hermida, a pair of lefty hitters who seem to have undeserved poor reputations. Drew, for example, hit 24 home runs with a .914 OPS in 2009, numbers which certainly wouldn't be booed in most home stadiums. Drew doesn't appear well-liked at Fenway Park, and certainly fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers (2005-06), St. Louis Cardinals (1998-2003) and Philadelphia Phillies (didn't sign when selected in 1997 draft) don't cheer him. Best I can tell, Drew isn't liked by a lot of fantasy pundits, either, including the esteemed Matthew Berry. "Finally he has a team around him that sucks as much as he does," Berry told me with a smile today.

It's a bad time for Drew to be off to a slow start. He's hitting .140 at a time when the team can't afford to have him struggle, but be patient with him in fantasy. The Red Sox have no choice. Fantasy owners aren't generally patient, which is why Drew is on ESPN's most-dropped list, but a year ago Drew helped carry the Red Sox the final two months, when he hit 12 home runs, knocked in 28 runs and hit a cumulative .340. He's talented. I'll grant you that he might never live up to his lofty potential and deliver another 30-home run season, which he has done only one season (2004 Atlanta Braves), or knock in 100 runs, which has also happened in only one season (2006 Dodgers), but he can hit, and in three of the past four seasons he has played in 137, 140 and 146 games.

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I like Drew batting second for the Red Sox, between the patient Marco Scutaro and the terrific Dustin Pedroia, who now seems to fancy himself as a power hitter. Drew owns a .390 career on-base percentage and can hit anywhere in a lineup. His grand slam Wednesday against lefty-throwing Matt Harrison is a good sign his swing is returning to normal levels. Drew is going to raise that batting average quickly, and I'd argue he remains ownable in 10-team standard leagues.

As for Hermida, he has been labeled a disappointment as well, but he can still hit right-handed pitching. I think he'd be best used in a left-field platoon with someone like Bill Hall, who can hit portsiders, but it's time for the Fenway faithful to give Hermida a shot. Hermida has never hit, walked or run the way the once-top prospect was supposed to back in his Florida Marlins days, but he's still only 26 years old. His career line against right-handed pitching features a .273 batting average, .349 on-base percentage and .445 slugging percentage. There's nothing wrong with that.

I don't expect big run-production numbers, and the guy who once was 28-for-30 in stolen bases in one season (2003) and 23-of-25 in another (2005 season) can't run well anymore, but I could definitely see this guy produce 15 home runs and a .275 batting average, as long as manager Terry Francona uses him sparingly against southpaws. In AL-only leagues and deeper mixed formats, I think Hermida should be owned. Hey, he's going to play!

As for current savior McDonald, who has quickly attained cult-hero status with his work over two magical days in the Texas Rangers series, he shouldn't interest you even in the deepest of fantasy leagues. McDonald, who joins the ever-popular Sam Horn (1987) as the only Red Sox to homer in their first two games with the franchise, has had numerous chances with major league teams and hit .231, with eight walks and 40 strikeouts. He does have a bit of speed and can defend enough to play center field, but pitchers will exploit his weaknesses quickly. In 1,338 games in the minor leagues, his OBP is .333, his slugging percentage .404. McDonald has actually been added in 0.6 percent of ESPN leagues in the past 24 hours. He's 31. The Sox are desperate. It won't last.