Drew Has Shoulder Problems, BoSox Find

The Red Sox and J.D. Drew/Scott Boras have still not completed their negotiations and many have wondered why. Information from the Boston Herald indicates that Drew's physical showed some complications and may result in a conditional contract.

Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus lists details on the specifics of the J.D. Drew physical. Drew took the physical shortly after the announcement of the deal in Orlando, but sources have said that Drew showed problems in his shoulder that "could shut down his power."

Drew had minor surgery on his shoulder after the 2005 season, so it's possible that there's more damage in there. It's important to note that in free agent acquisitions, a team often does not have the benefit of requesting medical records from his previous team prior to signing.

Speculation centers on the damage to Drew's shoulder being more like Scott Rolen circa 2005. It is likely that the Red Sox will get protection in the form of a very limited escape clause rather than scuttling the deal altogether.

Forget Wells-- Those who supposed that Ned Colletti could wrest Vernon Wells out of the Blue Jays' hands with Brad Penny and perhaps a prospect now realize what the Dodger general manager has probably known for some time: Toronto wasn't going to let him get away. Wells signed a $126 million, seven-year contract extension through 2014, the sixth-largest deal in baseball history.

The contract value trails only those of Alex Rodriguez ($252 million), Derek Jeter ($189 million), Manny Ramirez ($160 million), Todd Helton ($141.5 million) and Alfonso Soriano ($136 million). It is the 13th $100 million deal in baseball history and the third of the offseason, following those of Soriano with the Cubs and Carlos Lee ($100 million) with Houston.

Newest Rumor-- George Hewitt, our special contact on the West Coast, reports that the latest rumor has Toronto swapping Reed Johnson, Alex Rios, and Dustin McGowan for Brad Penny.

Johnson is a 30-year-old outfielder who has a four year record of .288-40-220 while operating as a part-timer for the Blue Jays. He hit .319 with 12 homers and 29 RBI over 134 games in 2006.

Alex Rios is a 26-year-old outfielder who has a .283-28-169 record over three seasons and 385 games. He hit .302 in 2006 with 17 homers and 82 RBI.

Both Johnson and Rios are righthanded hitters.

McGowan is a 25-year-old righthanded starter who was 4-5, 3.82 for AAA Syracuse last season and has pitched briefly for the Jays in 2005-06 and has a 2-5, 6.32 ERA over that time.

Erskine Still Tough-- Carl Erskine won 122 games for Brooklyn Dodgers (1948-57) and Los Angeles (1958-59), most of them with a sore arm. It finally got the best of him early in the 1959 season and he retired.

He lives in Anderson, Indiana, where he was a bank executive. Hours before his 80th birthday, December 13, he slipped and fell while taking out the trash. He was taken to the hospital but several hours later, he was singing and playing his harmonica at a church fundraising dinner.

At the dinner, everyone received a cupcake with "80" in icing written on top.

Fergy Now a Rivershark-- Joe Ferguson, longtime Dodger catcher and part-time outfielder, became the new manager of the Riversharks, an Atlantic League affiliate.

Ferguson, who also coached for the Dodgers before the infamous purge that took so many familiar faces when FOX Corp purchased the franchise, replaces Wayne Krenchicki, who is now the manager of the Newark Bears.

Ferguson, a 14-year major leaguer, comes to the Sharks after serving as the San Diego Padres' minor-league coaching instructor and the hitting coach for their Class-A Eugene Emeralds last season.

Ferguson, 60, played in the major leagues for the Dodgers, Cardinals, Astros and Angels. He was originally drafted by the Dodgers in the fifth round of the 1968 draft and spent his first six full seasons in Los Angeles.

He became the Dodgers' regular catcher in 1973 when he set a major-league record for a catcher by committing only three errors. He also hit .263 and had career-highs with 25 homers, 26 doubles, 88 RBI, 84 runs scored and 87 walks.

Ferguson started his coaching career with the Dodgers in 1985. He was bench coach for the 1988 World Series champs.

Merry (Belated) Christmas-- President George W. Bush partially corrected a grievous error committed by the Baseball Hall of Fame December 14 when he was awarded (posthumously) with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, cited for a life in baseball after being barred from the national pastime in his prime.

The award came for the Negro Leagues player, historian and advocate less than three months after he died at age 94.

Inexplicably, O'Neil missed election to the Hall of Fame by one vote in February, yet never lost his enthusiasm for the sport. In July, he appeared in the Northern League all-star game, making him the oldest man ever to play professional baseball.

Bush did not mention the ill-fated vote in February, when O'Neil was expected to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with other Negro Leagues and pre-Negro League figures. O'Neil was not among the 16 men and one woman selected.