Please, Not Stephen Drew Again: Winter Meetings Day 1
The Cardinals entered the 2012 Winter Meetings as one of the most complete teams in baseball. As such, they made little noise during the first day as fans and hot-button reporters tossed out speculation both realistic and fanciful.
One of the more obvious (and, to me, distressing) rumors came the night before, as a few sources pegged the Cardinals as one of several teams considering free agent shortstop Stephen Drew. Anyone remotely familiar with the Cardinals know about the unquenchable lust Cards fans have for Drew, which is rivalled only by their insatiable desire for Mark Buehrle. Like Buehrle, Cards fans will still be requesting a trade for Drew three weeks after he dies.
A move to secure Drew bothers me for a few reasons:
1. Drew is not an answer for future concerns at the position. He would be fighting for playing time during the two months that Rafael Furcal is healthy this year, and isn’t stable enough to take over the position for multiple years. If the Cardinals are going to make a move to get a solid shortstop, then that person needs to be the future at that position for this organization since the Cardinals have so few prospects lined up.
2. Drew is another injury risk. Drew has the physical strength and durability of an 85 year-old woman with multiple sclerosis. He makes Furcal look like Cal Ripken, Jr. I would be terrified that Furcal and Drew might bump into each other in the dugout and put each other on the disabled list.
3. Drew costs too much. Drew is already making more than Furcal ($7.5M in 2012). Can we really sink more than $14M worth of workman comp claims at shortstop?
4. Drew is a distraction. It’s time the organization comes up with an agreeable plan to field actual players at shortstop and second base. These are tough positions, and they require something more substantial than Ryan Theriot or a converted outfielder. We need to get some real players up the middle. Buying Drew distracts from that, tossing an easy-chewing bone to the fans to keep them quiet.
Aside from the Drew rumors, the only other player significantly attached to the Cardinals during the first day was Scott Hairston. The 32 year-old utility player would provide veteran right-handed power (averaged 12 homers a season over the last eight years) and multiple stable gloves. He made just $1.1M last year with the Mets, so he’d be a cheap addition.
The Big Question
The Cardinals are clearly looking to add a lefty reliever and a right-handed bench bat. Their other stated goal – a solution at shortstop – so far appears to hinge on whether they can find a long-term solution.
But Danny Knobler of CBS (who is, mind you, frequently wrong) sent out a mysterious tweet in the hours prior to the start of the meetings:
Cardinals looking for 2B and left handed reliever
The part about a second baseman threw many for a loop. Seriously? With Kolten Wong rising quickly in the minor leagues?
It seems that the Cardinals are at these meetings looking to upgrade at least one part of their middle infield. While we assume they need a shortstop, the Cardinals appear willing to stick with Furcal and Pete Kozma if they can snag a real second baseman.
Depending on the depth of that second baseman (and I have doubts that such a stud is available), Wong might be expendable in a trade of some kind. On the other hand, the Cardinals might just be looking for another Mark Grudzielanek – a scrap-pile, one season lottery ticket.
Yes, the Cardinals have been very boring thus far at the Winter Meetings. However, given John Mozeliak’s month-long poker-faced build-up, I suspect the club with escape from Opryland with some significant and complementary pieces.