Cheap Seats

Cardinals decision likely to cause Drew to boo hoo

I suppose all that is left to do on the hot stove front is wait for Stephen Drew to sign a contract so Cardinals fans can gripe about the price.

After St. Louis general manager John Mozeliak shocked most of those who follow baseball by seemingly overpaying for shortstop Jhonny Peralta, the market for that position has changed dramatically.

The Redbirds were widely perceived as the playoff quality team with the highest level of need at shortstop. So it seemed that they'd be the team most likely to dig deep and pay agent Scott Boras' sky high ransom for Drew's services. Now that the Cardinals are no longer shopping for a shortstop the ceiling for Drew's potential contract seems to have dropped significantly. Most teams left looking for a shortstop either would be making an incremental improvement by adding him or they're too far from being legitimate contenders to justify the steep price.

Drew, who Boras tried to argue deserved a contract similar to the $120 million pact Elvis Andrus got, may end up regretting that he didn't accept the Red Sox qualifying offer and the one-year, $14.1-million contract that came with it.

Drew might have been a nice fit for the Cardinals at the price the club paid for Peralta. Drew is a vastly superior fielder and, while he doesn't offer Peralta's power potential, he's got a slightly better career on-base percentage. In my book that makes them roughly equal in terms of offensive ability.

He's not a franchise player. But Drew is a guy who could have plugged the Redbirds' most significant hole and put them over the top. A team that doesn't have a good shot at making the playoffs doesn't really have a use for Drew because he's not going to put them in the playoffs. And his steep price tag also comes with the loss of a draft pick. So he's going to set back the development of a building team.

Drew has too much talent not to find a job. But it probably won't happen until his price comes down, potentially lower than what St. Louis paid for Peralta. And when that happens all the folks who griped about the Birds not re-signing Kyle Lohse based on what his Milwaukee contract turned out to be -- not what it would have cost the Cardinals to keep him off the market -- are going to complain that the Birds should have signed Drew at that price.

But, unfortunately, the Cardinals were driving the market for Drew. And unless the Yankees go nuts to try to find a permanent replacement for Derek Jeter, I don't see anybody going terribly higher than the $13.25 million a year for four seasons Peralta got to ply his trade at Busch Stadium.