Drew a Blank?

Over the weekend sports writer Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe wrote a piece about the readiness of Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly to be a major league manager. It was a well-written article but for Arizona Diamondbacks fans it held very little interest.

At the end of the article, Cafardo listed a few tidbits of information he had collected from around the league. As you might expect most of these had some reference to the Boston Red Sox and what they may consider doing during the off-season.

One item in particular caught my eye and brought up questions in my mind of what the Diamondbacks might be thinking.

Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks – He is expected to be shopped by the Diamondbacks, and there should be discussions with the Red Sox. Stephen is not the OPS machine that big brother J.D. is (.748 this season) but his other numbers weren’t bad for a shortstop: .261, 12 homers, 65 RBIs (only three fewer than J.D.). He also made only 11 errors. Who knows if hitting in a more patient lineup will help his OPS?

– Nick Cafardo

Rumors of the Diamondbacks shopping Stephen Drew have come up with more regularity the last two weeks. Statistically the shortstop had taken a step back offensively this past season. After a break-out second half in 2008 everyone expected Drew to put up great numbers in 2009. Instead he digressed to pre-2008 levels in several categories.

stephendrewPrior to this off-season Drew had been listed as one of the near untouchables of the Diamondbacks young core of players. He was to be one of the cornerstones that would keep Arizona competitive for several seasons.

The Diamondbacks willingness to listen to trades for Drew or as Cafardo puts it, actively shopping the shortstop leaves you wondering whether General Manager Josh Byrnes is planning to tweak the roster as he eluded to last season or if this constitutes a rebuilding effort.

Arizona is already in the market for at least one starting pitcher and given the departure of Filipe Lopez in a trade to the Milwaukee Brewers you would have to think the team will also be looking for a second baseman. If the Diamondbacks do trade Drew it would mean a completely new middle infield next season.

I have to agree with Cafardo that the Diamondbacks do need to talk to Boston if they are shopping Drew. The Red Sox are in need of a shortstop and it would be a natural fit. Reuniting the Drew brothers could also allow JD to work with his younger brother on offensive aspects of his game.

In exchange for Drew I would ask for Clay Buchholz. The Red Sox have been rumored to be shopping the pitcher and Buchholz would fill a need for the Diamondbacks checking off one item on Arizona’s shopping list. Buchholz split his time this season between Boston and Pawtucket and had decent numbers at each level.

He is the type of pitcher who could benefit from the teachings of Mel Stottlemyre Jr. He has an opportunity to be a front-line starter and would definitely be an upgrade to Doug Davis as the number three behind Brandon Webb and Dan Haren. I would much rather see the Diamondbacks ask for starting pitching in return for Drew than bullpen or another position player.

If this deal could be made I would take the money earmarked for a starting pitcher and instead sign Orlando Hudson to play second base. The trio of Augie Ojeda, Rusty Ryal, and Ryan Roberts could just as easily manage shortstop as they would second base.

Having Hudson on the right side of the infield would immediately make it better than last season and would allow the Diamondbacks to tinker with shortstop. Looking down on the farm, there does not appear to be any shortstop prospects ready to make the leap to the major leagues.

A complete turnover of the middle infield with question marks for second and short would not bode well for pitchers such as Brandon Webb and Chad Qualls who rely on a strong infield for the ground balls their sinker provides.

Without a gold glove caliber second baseman or shortstop, the Diamondbacks will continue to give up extra outs putting even more pressure on their pitching staff. Hopefully Byrnes will understand that and hold out for a deal that would knock the Diamondbacks socks off instead of settling like he did in the Quentin trade.

The off-season has barely begun and I am already lost and confused as to what direction Byrnes is trying to take this team. Hopefully it will become clear soon. The fans need some reassurance that the team is going in the right direction before buying tickets for next season.



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