If there is anything to the rumors that the Cardinals are interested in former Athletics and Diamondbacks shortstop Stephen Drew, the Birds better be prepared to bid aggressively.
According to an ESPN report, the Yankees are concerned that Alex Rodriguez may miss a good chunk of the 2013 season, so they're in hot pursuit of Drew.
Rodriguez apparently needs another hip surgery. But I'm not sure where Drew would fit into the New York puzzle because Drew has made all but one of his major league starts at shortstop. The only other position at which he has started is designated hitter.
Drew, who will be 30 in spring training, might be reluctant to accept a Yankees offer, however. Essentially, he would be a super utility player, warming a seat for a very highly-paid superstar until A-Rod returns to health. After that, he'd have no position as a first ballot Hall of Famer mans shortstop.
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With 15 homer a season power, Drew has nice pop for a career middle infielder. But if he's eyeing a career renaissance, his numbers don't stand out amongst third basemen where typically more power is expected.
If the Cardinals made a competitive bid, I'd be surprised to see Drew opt for the Yankees offer. In St. Louis Drew could potentially be the starting shortstop, rehabbing his reputation tarnished by a year and a half of trying to get up to speed after an awful ankle injury. The Birds could simply slide incumbent shortstop Rafael Furcal over to second base if he is healthy enough to play. That makes sense because it would make things easier on Furcal's troublesome throwing elbow. And it might him more marketable when he becomes a free agent at the end of the year if he can play more than one position.
Meanwhile, another ESPN report speculated that the Cardinals could be a player for Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
A 28-year-old shortstop, Tulowitzki has had four seasons of 24 or more homers and a .292 career batting average. Although those figures are probably helped by playing 81 games a season at Coors Field, he's probably the best offensive shortstop in the National League. Unfortunately, he's paid like it -- and then some.
Tulowitzki was signed to a 10-year, $157.5-million contract with Colorado before the 2011 season. It's backloaded, so he's owed $144 million over the last eight seasons with payouts of $20 million a year from 2015-19 and $14 million 2020. I can't even begin to think of the sort of cash considerations that would have to come to St. Louis to make that deal palatable. Even if the Rockies gave the Cardinals $5 million a year, (which they wouldn't) St. Louis will still owe a shortstop who would play six of eight years left on the deal beyond the age of 30 a princely sum of $104 million. That's an average of $13 million a year.
The Cardinals don't have enough bad money on the payroll for the Rockies to absorb to make it work otherwise. If they take Rafael Furcal and his $7 million paycheck for 2013 and Carlos Beltran and his $13 million pay day, there still wouldn't be enough money to pay Tulo.
While Tulowitzki is a great player on and off the field, the only way this could possibly work is if the owners upped the payroll $10 million. So it sounds like meaningless bluster in my book. And it would be an even more risky deal since Tulowitzki played only 47 games in 2012 after tearing his groin in a game May 30 against the Astros.
On a final note, since one can't talk about Rockies players without factoring Coors Field, Tulowitzki is a .309 hitter with 71 homers in 373 games at Coors Field and a .275 hitter with 59 homers in 371 games everyplace else.