With less then 24 hours to go before the trade deadline, Twitter was sent into a frenzy late Monday afternoon as news regarding potential trade target Stephen Drew hit the timeline of A’s fans with a fury. Reports circulated that Drew had been called into a closed door meeting with Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, leading fans and writers to speculate that a deal could be in place regarding the shortstop. With conflicting reports concerning the level of interest as well as the likelihood of a deal between the two teams, the news of the meeting gave hope that maybe Billy Beane had acquired that elusive shortstop upgrade he has been courting for weeks.
But alas, this all turned out to be much ado about nothing.
Arizona beat writers soon squashed the notion of a deal by relaying the fact that Drew had not been traded, and had retreated to the cages to take batting practice at the conclusion of the meeting. He is currently batting eighth and playing shortstop in tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Unless he’s pulled during the game and starts hugging his teammates goodbye, it’s safe to say Drew is a Diamondback for at least one more game.
Which leads us to examine the situation at hand. The A’s are in desperate need of a new shortstop. As any follower of my twitter can attest to, I have long been critical of Cliff Pennington and his sub par play. While I don’t blame him solely for the rough stretches the A’s went through in May, it did feel like there were times where he was an automatic out at the bottom of the order. The numbers seem to support this. Pennington has hit a paltry .197/.259/.282 solidifying himself as one the leagues worst hitters. While his defense is a plus, he doesn’t help the team in any regards offensively. While Brandon Hicks and Eric Sogard have filled in admirably in Pennington absence, I think most A’s fans will agree that they are both best suited as bench players and spot starters. Not players you can rely on to produce on an everyday basis during a stretch run. Hence the flirtation to acquire a replacement such as Drew, Yunel Escobar, and the recently dealt Hanley Ramirez.
While many fans may gripe at the Dodgers landing Ramirez for very little, let’s us not ignore that they did agree to inherit the rest of his contract without any relief from Miami. Something the A’s were not willing to do. Drew and Escobar will be considerably cheaper both in salary and potential cost of prospects. I truly cannot fathom the A’s thinking either player is worth any of the A’s top prospects such as Dan Straily, Sonny Gray, Michael Choice, or Grant Green. With Drew coming off ankle surgery and hitting a minuscule .203/273/.266 in just 24 games played since returning, there is no guarantee he would make an impact during the seasons final months. The same can be said about of Escobar, who despite enormous talent has underperformed in his major league career and has been plagued by character issues. He has however, been mostly healthy during the 2012 season. Appearing in 95 games, the 29 year old has hit .255/301/.359. Not terrible numbers, but nothing to write home about.
As the minutes tick closer and closer to the deadline, the A’s will have to make a decision. Be sure to stay tuned.