D-backs' Young, Drew close to returning


At some point in the next week, the Arizona Diamondbacks are hoping to get a few key pieces of their offense back on the field, as outfielder Chris Young and shortstop Stephen Drew are both on rehab assignments. While Young has been on the disabled list for a month and remains owned in 100 percent of ESPN leagues -- and that's warranted -- it's a far different story with Drew.

It's understandable that the defending National League West champion Diamondbacks aren't off to a great start this season, considering the fact that Young remains the team leader in home runs with five, and he played in only 11 games. Justin Upton is slugging just .328, the team has received ghastly production from three-quarters of the infield (nice job, Paul Goldschmidt and Ryan Roberts), and No. 2 starter Daniel Hudson has made only three starts. Still, it's hardly too late to catch the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Getting Young back is critical, though fantasy owners should be warned his .410 batting average is likely to drop 100 points and perhaps quite a bit more. This is not a guy who hits for any semblance of batting average (he's a career .242 hitter), but an average season for him since 2007 features 23 home runs and 20 stolen bases.

Frankly, it's not a bad time to float Young's name in trade while he's hitting .410 and has drawn more walks than strikeouts. He smacked a grand slam for High-A Visalia on Wednesday, which is another way to butter him up in trade. I'm not terribly worried about the long-term effects of his shoulder injury, but he wasn't exactly Ichiro Suzuki in terms of making contact in the first place. Young isn't likely to hit even .250 the rest of the season, but he should finish with another 20-homer, 20-steal year. Is that enough for how you value him? He was ranked 95th in our mid-May rankings.

Young's return means it's past time to say goodbye to Gerardo Parra for fantasy relevance. In two of my leagues, Parra has inexplicably been traded recently, not for Josh Hamilton, mind you, but still it tells me one owner fooled another. Parra has some value and he could end up with 20 steals if he gets 350 at-bats, but I doubt he gets the at-bats. He has eight stolen bases, with only one coming in May. Even if Young wasn't coming back or if we heard Upton or Jason Kubel was hurt, Parra wouldn't be relevant for standard 10- or 12-team leagues. He's on ESPN's most dropped list but is still owned in 34 percent of leagues.

I have not heard legitimate rumors that the Diamondbacks would consider moving one of their outfielders to first base -- presumably Kubel, since he's the worst defensively -- to replace the struggling Goldschmidt. In the movie "Moneyball," Billy Beane jokes with potential acquisition Scott Hatteberg, a catcher who doesn't throw well, that learning and playing first base is easy, and coach Ron Washington refutes it. This might be the only time I side with Washington. Kubel has never played first base in the big leagues. Just play Lyle Overbay if Goldschmidt can't hit his weight.

As for Drew, even at half of his normal effectiveness, he's an upgrade over Willie Bloomquist, who shouldn't be owned in even an NL West-only league. But what can we really expect from Drew, returning from an awful-looking broken ankle last season? Drew did not appear in our mid-May rankings, but it's conceivable he could match or exceed the production of a few shortstops that did appear there, such as Jhonny Peralta, Mike Aviles, Marco Scutaro and Yunel Escobar. Drew was, after all, the No. 108 pick in ESPN average live drafts in 2011. Even if he has lost a step, and I suspect with this ankle injury he has, he should be relevant.

This is why I'd make the speculative pickup on Drew for 12-team leagues and consider it in 10-team standard formats. Peralta, for example, has one home run and 11 RBIs this season. He doesn't steal bases. Drew was hitting only .252 with five home runs, 45 RBIs and four steals in 86 games last year when his season-ending slide into Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy occurred. The RBIs were a bit inflated, but Drew was on his way to flirting with double digits in home runs and steals. Will Peralta, Scutaro and Escobar do this? Aviles should, but it's time to sell high on him as well. The point is that Drew doesn't have to be the fellow who hit .291 with 21 home runs in 2008 to be worth something when the shortstop position is really lacking in depth. If he matched his 2010 production, and I don't think he will, he'd be a top-10 shortstop.

Adding Drew before he makes his hopefully triumphant return is mainly dictated by your team's needs. Drew is expected to join Triple-A Reno this weekend, and it might be a week or two before he's in the big leagues. He was on my short list of players I wanted to stuff into my top 250. I think by mid-June he'll firmly be in there, ready to contribute a .270 batting average, above average runs scored and perhaps flirt with double digits in home runs and steals in his four-plus months.