- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Once upon a recent time, Stephen Drew was one of the better shortstops in baseball. From 2007-10, he averaged 15 home runs, 63 RBIs and 7 steals for the Arizona Diamondbacks, annually teasing fantasy owners with the prospect of really significant numbers, but still being valuable enough for mixed-league ownership. Since then, Drew hasn't played much or very well. But he made his 2013 debut with the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday, and I'm certainly intrigued enough to consider him a potential addition in a 10-team league at some point soon.
Drew, currently owned in a bit more than 4 percent of ESPN standard leagues, went hitless in four aggressive at-bats (only nine pitches) while hitting eighth against Baltimore Orioles right-hander Jake Arrieta and his pals. Now 30 and apparently free of the concussion symptoms that dogged him this spring and ankle problems stemming from the gruesome home plate incident of mid-2011, it's reasonable to think a healthy Drew can produce his "old numbers," though his health is tougher to predict. Certainly heading to the American League and a home ballpark such as Fenway seems conducive enough for a rebound to relevance. There's debate about demoting/sitting Jose Iglesias, an exceptional fielder, but trust me, that .450 batting average of his might have been cut in half with 500 at-bats. Drew is better.
One would think Drew is already owned in all AL-only formats, but what it will take for him to become a mixed-league consideration? Well, a 15-homer, 60-RBI, 7-steal shortstop seems compelling enough to me. Last September is a small sample, but Drew hit .263 for the Oakland Athletics with five home runs and 14 RBIs, giving hope for his future. The Orioles' J.J. Hardy, Athletics' Jed Lowrie and Chicago White Sox's Alexei Ramirez are each 100 percent owned. If Drew delivered the numbers he used to average, he'd be worthy of full ownership, especially compared to that crew. Hardy might whack 25 homers, but he won't run. Lowrie is off to a terrific start, but he has never posted a 15-homer, 60-RBI season as Drew has, he doesn't steal bases, and he has never even batted 400 times in a season. The durable, consistent Ramirez I certainly like better, but a healthy, productive Drew will rise on the most-added list quickly, so keep an eye out.
Box Score Bits (AL): Speaking of middle infielders trying to make a comeback, poor Scott Sizemore of the Athletics re-tore his left ACL and is done for the season. Sizemore's roster spot was taken by Andy Parrino, but keep an eye on Triple-A Sacramento's Jemile Weeks, who in his two extreme batting-average seasons for Oakland (.303 in 2011, .221 last year) stole a total 38 bases. ... Toronto Blue Jays lefty Mark Buehrle was already among the most dropped starting pitchers before Wednesday, then was pummeled for six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings at Detroit. His current ERA: 10.24. With so much pitching depth in fantasy, and him not being a strikeout guy, it's already time to move on. ... The Blue Jays claimed outfielder Casper Wells from Seattle on Wednesday. He hits left-handers well, and should take at-bats from Colby Rasmus and potentially Rajai Davis. But he's still not worth anything in 10-team mixed formats. ... Interesting line for future Tampa Bay Rays phenom (I believe) Matt Moore in Texas, as he walked six but allowed only one hit, no runs. He'll get it right, eventually. ... Lance Berkman owners might not like it, but trust me, occasional days off against tough lefties, such as Moore on Wednesday, are good for his health and batting average. ... Orioles third baseman Manny Machado took Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan deep for the winning three-run home run Wednesday, but he has otherwise been quiet, hitting .200. You have to love the fact that Buck Showalter keeps batting him second. Be patient with him. ... Seattle outfielder Michael Saunders crashed into the outfield wall and hurt his right shoulder, which should give Jason Bay the playing time he covets. Whether it matters or not is another story. ... Mike Trout finally stole a base. Stop worrying, there will be 50 more.
Box Score Bits (NL): St. Louis Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter homered among his four hits Wednesday, raising his season batting average to .400. The guy is legit, and he needs only eight more games at second base for that critical eligibility. ... Teammate Matt Adams continues to rake when given opportunity. Filling in for Allen Craig, he homered and knocked in three. If Carlos Beltran had to miss time, it wouldn't be Oscar Taveras playing, but rather Craig in right field and Adams at first base regularly. ... Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock smacked two home runs and knocked in four Wednesday. He's a lot like Adam Eaton, not a power guy but he runs, and could carve out a role starting against lefties like the brutal Jonathan Sanchez, who allowed nine runs. ... It's understandable why the Pittsburgh Pirates took a chance on Sanchez, but there's no way you should in any league. ... The left fielder for Arizona was Alfredo Marte, who hit 20 home runs at Double-A Mobile in 2012. The Cody Ross signing hurt his chances of playing, but Marte, who had two hits and a walk Wednesday, is a name to remember. ... You might not like Barry Zito, but the San Francisco Giants lefty has yet to allow a run in 14 innings. Of course, in six Giants seasons, his final ERA has never finished on the good side of 4, and it shouldn't this year. ... Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley thrived in his season debut, allowing one run to win in San Diego. His balky elbow was able to avoid Tommy John surgery, and at least you know he'll pitch well enough when active. If he gets lit, the Dodgers do have depth.