Nationals Baseball: Stephen Drew?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Stephen Drew?

If you are creating a good bench you don't have any pieces on it that are one-trick ponies, unless they do that one-trick about better than anyone. Of course that usually only holds for defensive specialists, or speedy players, because if you are a guy who has pop or hits for average about better than anyone, teams will try to find spots for you - even if you do nothing else. (see : Trumbo, Mark)

Stephen Drew can still (probably) field adequately. He can hit with power from the left-side of the plate. His isoSLG last year would have been second amongst all SS and his projected power is around Top 5 for the position. Given those skills he makes a passable back-up MI on the bench (while Espinosa is starting and Turner is in AAA, waiting out his service time... I mean "honing his skills") and a fantastic last MI on the bench (when Turner is up and Espy sits). Yes, yes Drew is a Boras client. And yes yes Drew was drafted by Rizzo when he was in Arizona. Both these things helped get him here I'm sure. But if he's played correctly there really doesn't have to be a downside here.

If played correctly...

So how do you play him incorrectly? Well Dusty, known to favor veteran players, could put Drew in place above Espinosa (better in just about everyway, which tells you where Drew is at). Drew shouldn't be playing everyday, not even as an injury replacement, or a stop-gap. Not when you have a better option and the Nats do. Scarier than that would be the potential logical extension where if Baker puts Drew at SS and the Nats are doing moderately well and he's not god awful, that he stays with him not only over Espy but over Turner as well. Turner is the future and is very likely to hit very well in his "get Nats another FA year" turn in Syracuse. If so, there won't be any reason to keep him down but you can picture that situation arising.

Of course no sense worrying about things that haven't happened yet (Like say the Murphy deal falling through and Drew being pencilled in as the 2nd base starter). I see how this can work out. I'm going to assume that's how it's going to go.

Who does this most effect? Espinosa, certainly. He will at least lose some at bats versus RHP and possibly lose his role entirely. We hope not but the potential is there. Wilmer Difo, thought to have a role in the 2016 Nats, is almost certainly now pushed back into AAA to try to fight the fade into organizational depth (hey! It's the ghost of Tony Renda!). And the aforementioned Tyler Moore may finally, mercifully lose his spot on the bench, seeing as Drew offers the same pop, but can also play in the field as well. Of course Moore does hit from the other side of the plate and today would still make my expected* OD roster (bench : Lobaton, Clint, den Dekker, Drew and Moore)

All in all, this is much like every deal the Nats have made this offseason. It makes them a little bit better. That all adds up. Of course they got worse to start FA and still have a couple moves to make that will do more of that, at least on the field, so we still have to hold back any evaluations until later.

*not to be confused with my preferred OD roster.

11 comments:

Jay said...

What if this means the Nats are going to trade from some of their apparent MI "depth" now? Difo or even Espinosa for a closer or a LH OF? Not sure how I feel about that possible scenario. Any thoughts on possible OF moves? I like Alex Gordon in LF and Werth goes back to RF - where at least he is familiar with it. He was really bad in LF last year. Still lots of offseason to go. Could be interesting.

Chaz R said...

It would seem that once Trea is up with the mother ship, one of Drew or Espi is redundant. This would be particulary true if the Nats pick up aanother OF and push MAT to the bench. Certainly TMo is a goner. I was really surprised he was even tendered a contract this year, unless Rizzo simply planned to use him as a trade piece.

Ryan said...

This move is fine. Last year the Nats brought in Dan Uggla, at least Drew actually still has power and is a decent infielder.

Positively Half St. said...

I am curious whether the Nats will remove 2 guys from the 40-man or pull off a quick trade.

Chaz R said...

If the Nats picked another OF, they would have to put MAT on the bench (unless he was part of a trade). So the bench would be: Lobaton, Robinson, MAT, Espinosa or Drew or Turner (one of which would be the starting SS) & den Dekker.

IPLawguy said...

Here's the scenario that scares me - the Nats fail to sign another OF. And then Werth gets hurt/plays like the old guy that he is and MAT continues his atrocious K rate. Can you imagine an OF of Murphy/Harper/Robinson... don't laugh. It could happen.

Drew is fine, but they really need a 4th OF. Maybe its den Dekker, but I'd like to see someone with more of a track record.

Sec314

John C. said...

Take heart, IPLawguy, your nightmare scenario isn't really realistic. If Werth gets hurt and MAT continues his atrocious K rate then the Nats' outfield would be den Dekker/MAT/Harper. Because in that scenario, Taylor still plays because of his defense (he was worth somewhere between 0 (rWAR) and 1 (fWAR) win above replacement even with the terrible K rate last year). And Espinosa will play in the outfield before Murphy does - Murphy's OF defense has the advantage of making his 2b defense look, well, less bad anyway.

blovy8 said...

I know because dingers is your answer, but I'm not buying that Drew is better than Manny Burriss or your favorite 30ish has been or never really was shortstop for 2 million less. And we know that 2 million dollars does matter to this team when July or August happens to be the month. They even deferred money in the Murphy deal. Whoever that random middle infielder is only has to be a better defensive 2b than Murphy and maybe not even for very long, if someone dumps a better veteran when the roster crunches come in March. If one questions Espy's offense, as they must, Drew is still an extremely crappy answer. To me this spot didn't need a guaranteed player - if an infielder gets hurt early you stick Difo in there and probably get over his service time possibilities as opposed to Turner's since his upside is way lower.

JW said...

I think there's certainly an argument that the price is too high. Boras did his Jedi mind trick on Rizzo and Lerners. But it's an upgrade in the extent that he's better than the last MI guy on the bench from this year (Uggla). And I'm all for keeping Boras happy if it means even a marginally improved shot at keeping Bryce in DC beyond 2018.

The outfield needs resolution for 2016 though. den Dekker is ok as a 5th OF (I don't love him as a 5th, but he's probably not much worse than anyone else you could slot there) but not really good enough for a 4th OF spot. Ideally the Nats can pick up a starter and move MAT to the bench. Or fill for Werth when he inevitably gets injured.

Anonymous said...

There's definitely something to be said in MLB for dumpster diving. But to be brutally honest about it, Rizzo's recent dumpster diving track record absolutely sucks.

Let's hope we get lucky and that changes this coming season.

John C. said...

Every team dumpster dives, and successes are rare (because it is, after all, a dumpster). I'll point out that Clint Robinson counts as a dumpster dive, and he was a very pleasant surprise last year.