• The Case for Stephen Drew

    It is now 2014 and Stephen Drew is still a free agent. There has been speculation regarding the Twins making a run at Drew. Some are in favor of a possible signing, while some are against it. This is a common theme when speculating on transactions. Everyone is going to have his opinion.

    Here is my case for signing Stephen Drew.

    More information on the stats used below can be found in the Glossary section of Fangraphs.com.

    Offensive Upside

    Stephen Drew was a good offensive player in 2013, putting up a wRC+(weighted runs created, normalized for park and league effects) of 109. That's before considering that he is a shortstop. In 2013 the league average wRC+ for shortstops was 85. To put that into perspective, his offensive production was similar to Dustin Pedroia (115 wRC+) compared to the league average second baseman (91 wRC+) and Allen Craig (135 wRC+) compared to the league average first baseman (110 wRC+).

    While that gives you an idea of how good his offense was for a shortstop, it would be more helpful to compare him to the player he'd be replacing. Pedro Florimon had a 68 wRC+ in 2013. So Drew was essentially 41% better at creating runs than Florimon. To give you an idea of how much better 41% is, I used two other full time Twins players to help illustrate how big of an upgrade Drew would have been over Florimon.

    Florimon wRC+: 68
    Drew wRC+: 109

    Dozier wRC+: 101
    Cano wRC+: 142

    Plouffe wRC+: 93
    Longoria wRC+: 133

    If you are skeptical that this was a career year for Drew, and thus an outlier, this was the fourth season that Drew put up a 109 wRC+ or higher.

    Steady Defense

    While Florimon is one of the better defensive shortstops in the league, Drew is a good defensive shortstop in his own right. Here is how Drew's defense has rated over the last five years using UZR/150 (ultimate zone rating, over 150 games) and DRS (defensive runs saved).

    UZR/150: 4.0
    DRS: 3

    Using 4000 innings as the threshold, a total of only 10 shortstops rated above zero in both defensive metrics during that time frame.

    Overall Player

    Using the same five year time frame, here are Drew's overall numbers.

    wRC+: 98
    UZR/150: 4.0
    DRS: 3

    During that span, only three other shortstops met or exceeded these standards: Tulowitzki, (Yunel) Escobar, and Peralta. In 2013, once again, only three shortstops met these standards. Tulowitzki, (Yunel) Escobar and Hardy.

    Health Concerns

    Health should be a concern with every player, but it seems to be overblown with Drew. He has been tagged with words like injury-prone and fragile, which doesn't seem to be fair.

    When you take out his flukey 2011 ankle injury (broken bone and torn ligaments from a slide in to home), Drew averaged 142 games played in his other five full seasons in the majors. In those five seasons he has been on the DL three times for a total of 54 days. Those three DL stints were caused by two hamstring strains and a concussion suffered from being hit in the head by a pitch. So other than a couple of freak injuries, he's been quite durable.

    2015 Class

    There has been talk about shortstops who may be available through free agency next offseason. So I wanted to compare them to Drew noting their ages when hitting free agency, along with their offense and defense over the past five seasons. I didn't include Ramirez and Jeter because they aren't realistic options due to many factors.

    Age wRC+ UZR/150 DRS
    Drew 31 98 4.0 3
    Cabrera 29 107 -10.8 -19
    Lowrie 31 108 -4.4 -28
    Hardy 32/33 92 9.3 31
    Rollins 36 92 4.6 -29

    All things considered, Drew looks to be the most attractive player.

    The Conclusion

    Other than giving up a second round draft pick, all things point to Drew being a great signing. He is a good player who would provide a significant upgrade at a position at which the Twins lack options. He would also provide balance to an infield (Dozier, Plouffe) that struggles against right-handed pitching.

    There seems to be a thin market for Drew with the Red Sox and Mets being the two teams most often mentioned. There have been reports that teams are not willing to go past two years, so this would be a good time for the Twins to jump in and offer Drew three years, $30-33 million.

    It would be nice to have another proven position player alongside Mauer to help with the infusion of youth coming up in the next couple years. Especially a shortstop.
    This article was originally published in blog: The Case for Stephen Drew started by JP3700
    Comments 234 Comments
    1. Reider's Avatar
      Reider -
      It's time to stop beating the dead horse on Drew. The law of diminishing returns is way to large on this one.

      Claims that Drew is a better SS than Florimon are false. Florimon was arguably a top 5 SS last year and has the potential to be #2 next year behind Simmons if he can limit some of those easy ones, including the ones in cold weather in April/May.

      On offense, yes, Drew can help generate more runs than Florimon, but at what cost?

      20-26X the cost of Florimon, plus a second round draft pick. The law of diminishing returns is huge. Drew isn't even 2X as good as Florimon, but the Twins would have to pay 20-26X the cost of Florimon to get him, plus a 2nd round draft pick? That is steep. Very steep.

      Not to mention, Drew is older, slower, not as good at SS, his health is a question mark, and he did nothing in the playoffs last year. I guess the last point is inconsequential considering the Twins probably won't make the playoffs anyways, but you get the point.

      If the Twins want to spend the $ and platoon Drew with Florimon, I would be OK with that as I have nothing personal against Drew, but it really doesn't make any sense at all, when you do a cost-benefit analysis. The Twins would be wise to try and make a deal with Baltimore for Hardy before offering Drew a contract.

      I'd be fine with Florimon in 2014.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Reider View Post
      It's time to stop beating the dead horse on Drew. The law of diminishing returns is way to large on this one.

      Claims that Drew is a better SS than Florimon are false. Florimon was arguably a top 5 SS last year and has the potential to be #2 next year behind Simmons if he can limit some of those easy ones, including the ones in cold weather in April/May.
      Defense is only half of the equation and Drew is a fine defender in his own right.

      Quote Originally Posted by Reider View Post
      On offense, yes, Drew can help generate more runs than Florimon, but at what cost?

      20-26X the cost of Florimon, plus a second round draft pick. The law of diminishing returns is huge. Drew isn't even 2X as good as Florimon, but the Twins would have to pay 20-26X the cost of Florimon to get him, plus a 2nd round draft pick? That is steep. Very steep.
      Who cares? I'm not the biggest Drew fan but Florimon is really, really bad with the bat. On a team that was really bad with the bat overall in 2013, Drew shores up a position where the Twins have no prospect of improving internally. The percentage of improvement per dollar spent doesn't matter a lick to me because without picking up someone from outside the org, the Twins will not find a suitable player at short. And good players cost money.

      Quote Originally Posted by Reider View Post
      Not to mention, Drew is older, slower, not as good at SS, his health is a question mark, and he did nothing in the playoffs last year. I guess the last point is inconsequential considering the Twins probably won't make the playoffs anyways, but you get the point.
      That point is inconsequential whether the Twins make the playoffs or not. Stephen Drew had 21 postseason plate appearances in 2013.

      Also, speed is largely irrelevant in the case of Florimon because, as the old saying goes, "you can't steal first".

      Quote Originally Posted by Reider View Post
      If the Twins want to spend the $ and platoon Drew with Florimon, I would be OK with that as I have nothing personal against Drew, but it really doesn't make any sense at all, when you do a cost-benefit analysis. The Twins would be wise to try and make a deal with Baltimore for Hardy before offering Drew a contract.
      So you don't want to give up a second rounder to sign Drew but you're willing to trade a prospect, a player more likely to contribute to the MLB team than some random dude drafted 37th overall next June?

      I'll give up the draft pick 100x over before I offer up someone like JO Berrios for JJ Hardy.
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post

      His last 3 seasons his wRC+ was 92, 80 and 109 (average 93.6). In other words, for his career he has been 4% below the average player and 6.4% below the average the last 3 seasons combined. A 3 year contract will buy his age 31, 32 and 33 seasons, that should theoretically be worse than his age 28, 29 and 30 season when we was 6.4% worse than the average hitter.
      That season in the middle is the year he was recovering from injury. This was his wRC+ month by month after he returned that year.


      June 7
      July 42
      August 85
      Remainder of season 108

      Seems obvious that he was still recovering, and regaining his form. Looks like he started to get his groove back in August and finished the season as the hitter he is. Considering he followed it up with a 109 wRC+.

      Also that 93.6 is incorrect. For those three years, including his 2012, he put up a 96 wRC+. You don't take the three years of performance and divide it by three, as he had different amount of plate appearances in each year.

      If you do remove his 2012 season, his last three are 113, 92 (half-season), 109. A 107 wRC+. Which is about where he was this past season.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Said it before, will say it again. Signing JD Drew is the best non SP move the Twins could make at this point. Every other position either has talent there already, or talent within the next year or two.

      Just look:

      1B- Mauer
      2B- Dozier/Rosario
      3B- Sano
      OF- Buxton, Arcia, Hicks etc
      C- Pinto
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      In response to this quote:

      You know, I'm going to be real direct about Stephen. I think Stephen should have been out there playing before now. And, frankly, I for one am disappointed.I'm going to be real candid and say I think Stephen and his representatives are more focused on where Stephen is going to be a year from now than going out and supporting the team that's paying his salary.
      All you can do is hope that the player is treating the situation with integrity, and, frankly, we have our concerns.
      It just seems completely unfair for another person to question what's going on with Drew's body. He was recovering from a major ankle injury. If anything, the numbers I posted above, regarding his performance after coming off injury, shows that Drew rushed back. His poor performance not only hurt the team, but hurt his stock. So it was a lose, lose and this was something they wanted to rush even more.

      Keep in mind that this is the same owner that called out Justin Upton for underperforming and eventually sold low on him (along with Chris Johnson). The same team that sold low on Ian Kennedy for underperforming. Adam Eaton after an injury plagued season. Tyler Skaggs after underperforming in his rookie year.

      It just seems that if you get injured or underperform for that franchise, then you get called out or traded. Or in some cases both.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      I just want to chime in on the last few excellent posts and add a question...since when did it become accepted theory that players can no longer play by age 34?

      There might be reasons to be opposed to signing Drew, but age isn't one of them.
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      I'm not big into projections, but mlbtraderumors did an article on Drew a while back and they cited projections that were not at all kind. I just do not believe a multi-year contract for this guy at more than $10M per year will come close to paying off. The draft choice is another pebble in the landslide as far as I'm concerned.
      Those projections were not done by mlbtraderumors, they were projections by Steamer, Oliver and ZiPS. All of which do not recognize Drew's 2012 season as a season in which he was recovering from injury. One of many flaws to projection systems.

      Mlbtraderumors actually ranked Drew as the 14th best player available going into the offseason. The best shortstop available to start and currently the best position player available.
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      I wouldn't blink at a 2/$24m deal. I'd blink but still probably sign a 3/$30m deal.

      People say losing a second round pick makes Drew a gamble... I think the opposite. He's a better value because of that second round pick. Most teams in contention to sign Drew are risking a first round pick, not a second round pick. Take advantage of that and nab the guy while other teams (maybe rightfully so) balk at giving up a first rounder for Stephen Drew.

      A second round pick? Meh. Sure, having loads of draft picks are nice but the Twins are looking at losing a pick 40 slots deep while other teams looking to sign Drew are looking at losing a 11-30 slot pick. Most guys drafted 35-40 overall never amount to anything. Hell, most first rounders never amount to anything.
      I just wanted to agree with this post. I've always liked Drew as a player, but the fact that his price tag has dropped is the main reason why I want the Twins to jump in.

      In free agency, you have to look for value. Drew would be a good value at the stated costs. Look at what Cleveland did. They waited out the market and got Swisher and Bourn. They took advantage of the system and their protected first round pick, to get two good players late in the offseason. Which helped turn them from a 68 win team to a playoff team.
    1. edavis0308's Avatar
      edavis0308 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Defense is only half of the equation and Drew is a fine defender in his own right.

      Who cares? I'm not the biggest Drew fan but Florimon is really, really bad with the bat. On a team that was really bad with the bat overall in 2013, Drew shores up a position where the Twins have no prospect of improving internally.

      All I can think of is the whole "if everyone else does there job (hitting) then _____ doesn't have to". Too bad that we can say that about....ohhhh... 4 players on our current roster? As long as the other 5 win silver sluggers, they don't have to be able to hit their weight.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      It just seems completely unfair for another person to question what's going on with Drew's body.
      Well, you're also speculating about his production, or lack there-of, being injury related. As for the other players at Arizona, all of that is fine, but there has to be more to the story as well. I can't recall many owners or managers directly coming out and suggesting a player and their agent are conspiring to milk an injury. It certainly could be an organizational issue and a completely false accusation.

      It could also be that this guy has a terrible makeup and that's why he's failed to live up to expectations and stay on the field and he exasperated the organization that was banking on him for years.

      I'm on board signing him because our shortstop situation is terrible and we should be willing to take chances. But if this guy is the picture of a bargain at shortstop, there are a lot of teams that should be after that. And since so many front offices are ignoring him with virtually nothing else left on the hitter's market - it does speak to issues beyond the numbers you are crunching, no?
    1. Reider's Avatar
      Reider -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      So you don't want to give up a second rounder to sign Drew but you're willing to trade a prospect, a player more likely to contribute to the MLB team than some random dude drafted 37th overall next June?

      I'll give up the draft pick 100x over before I offer up someone like JO Berrios for JJ Hardy.
      No, that's not what I said. I said that when doing a cost benefit analysis between Florimon and Drew that the law of diminishing returns comes into play big time because you have to spend 20-26X plus give up a second round draft pick to get a negative return on defense and less than 2x return on offense.

      If you want my opinion on the draft pick, all you have to do is ask. I'm okay with giving up a second round draft pick if the price tag is lower. I just don't like the idea of signing Drew @ $10m + 2nd round draft pick over Florimon, who the Twins already have under contract for $500,000.

      As far as a potential Hardy trade goes, nowhere did I suggest giving up X player or X prospect in a trade. I merely think the Twins would be wise to at least give the Orioles a call and see what options are available instead of simply giving Drew what he wants without flipping over every other stone first.

      One thing nobody seems to consider very much is that Florimon has only played one full season in the MLB and that he may improve both defensively and offensively. This would add even more weight on the cost-benefit scale.

      As far as platooning Drew with Florimon. I'm really not against the idea to be honest. I have nothing against Drew and I think the two of them would do a fine job in 2014. I'm merely looking at it from a cost-benefit / business perspective. If the Twins are willing to spend the money, then that's great. But I have a feeling that Terry Ryan is thinking more like me and less like you on this issue.

      I said before that the Twins would be better off spending their $ in other area's where they would get more bang for their buck and so far they have done that (starting pitching), which doesn't surprise me at all. Hopefully they continue doing that and only sign Drew if all of their other options have run out (e.g. Garza is signed, teams are asking for too much in trade for X player) and they still have $ left to spend.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by JP3700 View Post
      I just wanted to agree with this post. I've always liked Drew as a player, but the fact that his price tag has dropped is the main reason why I want the Twins to jump in.

      In free agency, you have to look for value. Drew would be a good value at the stated costs. Look at what Cleveland did. They waited out the market and got Swisher and Bourn. They took advantage of the system and their protected first round pick, to get two good players late in the offseason. Which helped turn them from a 68 win team to a playoff team.
      I think Clevelandís improvement could be interpreted differently. Masterson went from an ERA of 4.93 in 2012 to 3.45 in 2013. Jimenez improved from an ERA of 5.40 to 3.30. They added Kazmir who pitched to a 4.04 ERA and was really good the 2nd half. Kluber went from 5.14 to 3.85. McAlister improved from 4.24 to 3.75. I realize this is a bit farfetched but itís the rough equivalent to getting rid of a rather poor staff and replacing it with 3 of Nolasco and 2 of Garza at his very best.

      Swisher was middle of the pack for 1B. Bourne was near the bottom. He had SO 23%, had an ISO of .097 and an OPS of 676.

      I would attribute their improvement to massive improvement in their two primary starters, and two young guys panning out nicely (McAlister / Kluber) as well as a FA pick-up frequently characterized as dumpster diving here. (Kazmir)
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Major Leauge Ready View Post
      I think Clevelandís improvement could be interpreted differently. Masterson went from an ERA of 4.93 in 2012 to 3.45 in 2013. Jimenez improved from an ERA of 5.40 to 3.30. They added Kazmir who pitched to a 4.04 ERA and was really good the 2nd half. Kluber went from 5.14 to 3.85. McAlister improved from 4.24 to 3.75. I realize this is a bit farfetched but itís the rough equivalent to getting rid of a rather poor staff and replacing it with 3 of Nolasco and 2 of Garza at his very best.

      Swisher was middle of the pack for 1B. Bourne was near the bottom. He had SO 23%, had an ISO of .097 and an OPS of 676.

      I would attribute their improvement to massive improvement in their two primary starters, and two young guys panning out nicely (McAlister / Kluber) as well as a FA pick-up frequently characterized as dumpster diving here. (Kazmir)
      They also scored almost 80 more runs in 2013 compared to 2012, going from second to last to tied for 4th in the AL.

      Which is kind of the point ... If the Twins score 614 runs again in 2014, it won't matter how much improvement the starting pitching shows, they'll likely lose 90 again. They need to improve the offense just as much as they need better pitching. Some of that improvement is going to have to come from the minor leagues, but it won't be coming at SS.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      This is what puts me in the minority, if he's faking it's bad, but if he's not faking, it doesn't make it much better, he's still missing a boatload of games. I'm not a big Drew supporter, I'd take a shot on a one year deal, but considering he hasn't played 130 games since 2010 I think it's unlikely he does it regularly over the next three years. I'm also pretty concerned about his career high SO% at his age 30 season which was preceeded by his 2nd highest SO% season the year before. The limited number of games he plays combined with the increasing strikeout numbers have the look of an accelerated decline.

      These kind of guys seem to end up platooning very quickly. Speaking of platoons, check out his .196/.246/.340 slash against lefties last year. I'm not excited about giving a guy multiple years at $10 million per to share time with Pedro Florimon.
      I don't get your last remarks. What's not to like about Drew playing 120 games, virtually all against RHSP and OPS potentially above .850 ( career .876 OPS against RHP)? Eduardo Escobar has a career split of .739 against lefties (SSS) but confirmed his L over R minor league trend- Esbcoar could be your platoon partner and utility IF guy and you might be able to move Florimon for a prospect in Spring Training. If Flori stays, you would also improve Florimon's split by batting him primarily against lefties (.636 OPS). This kind of move gives you plus or plus-plus defense, and give you a combined OPS potential at SS (with Escobar) of close to, or better than, .800, the League Average OPS @ SS is only .669.

      The league best OPS at SS last year was the Red Sox with some guy named Stephen Drew getting the bulk of the ABs....HELLO!......765 OPS!!!!

      Well worth $10M, and Drew would draw huge interest as a trading chip, when and if that time should ever come about.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      But if this guy is the picture of a bargain at shortstop, there are a lot of teams that should be after that. And since so many front offices are ignoring him with virtually nothing else left on the hitter's market - it does speak to issues beyond the numbers you are crunching, no?
      Who should pursue him (besides the Twins)?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Said it before, will say it again. Signing JD Drew is the best non SP move the Twins could make at this point. Every other position either has talent there already, or talent within the next year or two.

      Just look:

      1B- Mauer
      2B- Dozier/Rosario
      3B- Sano
      OF- Buxton, Arcia, Hicks etc
      C- Pinto
      JD?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by JP3700 View Post
      In response to this quote:



      It just seems completely unfair for another person to question what's going on with Drew's body. He was recovering from a major ankle injury. If anything, the numbers I posted above, regarding his performance after coming off injury, shows that Drew rushed back. His poor performance not only hurt the team, but hurt his stock. So it was a lose, lose and this was something they wanted to rush even more.

      Keep in mind that this is the same owner that called out Justin Upton for underperforming and eventually sold low on him (along with Chris Johnson). The same team that sold low on Ian Kennedy for underperforming. Adam Eaton after an injury plagued season. Tyler Skaggs after underperforming in his rookie year.

      It just seems that if you get injured or underperform for that franchise, then you get called out or traded. Or in some cases both.
      Or Jason Kubel.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      These kind of guys seem to end up platooning very quickly. Speaking of platoons, check out his .196/.246/.340 slash against lefties last year. I'm not excited about giving a guy multiple years at $10 million per to share time with Pedro Florimon.
      Florimon hit .180/.229/.230 against lefties last year.

      That's supposed to be his strong side.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Well, you're also speculating about his production, or lack there-of, being injury related. 1) As for the other players at Arizona, all of that is fine, but there has to be more to the story as well. I can't recall many owners or managers directly coming out and suggesting a player and their agent are conspiring to milk an injury. It certainly could be an organizational issue and a completely false accusation.

      2) And since so many front offices are ignoring him with virtually nothing else left on the hitter's market - it does speak to issues beyond the numbers you are crunching, no?
      1) It's likely a Kirk Gibson-related issue.

      2) The lack of interest can be directly pointed at the !st round pick compensation, the SS needs fulfilled and the cost-benefit analysis not being favorable to a non-contending team.....None of which apply to the Twins....
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      How is saving millions a good idea, if those millions are just pocketed? Why do people care if they pay Drew, if the alternative is pocketing the money?
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.