MLB Trade Rumors: Billy Beane Upgrades the Oakland A's by Acquiring Stephen Drew

Mark Reynolds@@markreynolds33Correspondent IIAugust 21, 2012

Drew is a much better player than he's shown in limited time this season.
Drew is a much better player than he's shown in limited time this season.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

According to the Arizona Diamondbacks Twitter page, the team has traded Stephen Drew to the Oakland A's for minor league shortstop Sean Jamieson.

Billy Beane was unable to swing a deal for Drew or any other shortstops at the deadline, but three weeks later, he got his man. While Drew has struggled this season, Beane is betting on Drew's tools and track record to shine over the final six weeks of the season.

It's a smart bet to make and one that will likely pay dividends.

Drew, who can become a free agent at the end of the season, has struggled mightily since returning from the disabled list at the end of June after suffering a broken ankle last season. In 40 games since returning from injury, he's hit just .193/.290/.311 compared to his respectable career line of .266/.328/.436.

Drew was the D-Backs first-round draft pick in 2004, and he was the fifth highest-rated prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America back in 2006. He hit a robust .311/.384/.541 in his minor league career and followed that up by hitting .316/.357/.517 during his first cup of coffee in the big leagues.

However, Drew has failed to live up to the lofty expectations he set for himself during his minor league career and inaugural big league season. In six seasons since his first big league campaign, he's never matched the .874 OPS he put up during that season, though he did have excellent seasons in 2008 (.835 OPS) and 2010 (.810 OPS).

His lengthy rehabilitation from the ankle injury drew the ire of the team's managing general partner, Ken Kendrick, who went to the airwaves to accuse Drew of dogging it during his rehab because he was more concerned with his impending free agency than helping the D-Backs this season (h/t Nick Piecoro of

The A's don't need much from Drew to get an upgrade at shortstop. A's shortstops are dead last in baseball with a horrific .187/.253/.292 batting line, with Cliff Pennington (.198/.265/.284) being the main culprit.

This trade reminds me a lot of the deal the St.Louis Cardinals swung for Rafael Furcal at last year's trading deadline. Furcal was in the midst of an awful, injury-plagued season for the Dodgers, hitting just .197/.272/.248 before the trade.

The old saying goes that you can't scout a stat line, and the Cardinals decided to bet on Furcal's tools rather than take his numbers at face value. Furcal rewarded them by stabilizing the position and hitting .255/.316/.418 with seven home runs down the stretch to help the Cardinals win the World Series.

Drew is in the midst of a down year, but the A's desperately needed an upgrade at shortstop, and Drew probably needed a change of scenery. He's got more talent than Pennington, so it's a gamble worth taking. He also played for A's manager Bob Melvin in Arizona, so the A's have some inside knowledge about their new acquisition.

The A's entered play tonight in a tie with Baltimore for the second wild-card spot in the American League. In such a tight race, six hot weeks from the talented but enigmatic Stephen Drew could be the difference between playing in October and watching the playoffs from home. Not all gambles pay off, but in this case, the A's were wise to make a bet on Drew's tools.

Time will tell if the move pays off, but given Beane's outstanding moves over the past calendar year, he's not a GM I would bet against right now.