Arizona Diamondbacks: 5 Possible Shortstop Fill-Ins for Injured Stephen Drew

Doug MeadCorrespondent IJuly 21, 2011

Arizona Diamondbacks: 5 Possible Shortstop Fill-Ins for Injured Stephen Drew

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    In Wednesday’s game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Milwaukee Brewers, the outcome of the game in which the Brewers rallied to win 5-2 in extra innings became a secondary issue for both teams.

    On consecutive plays in the fourth inning, D-Backs shortstop Stephen Drew, the anchor of the infield defense, was lost for the season when he fractured his ankle sliding into home plate. On the very next play, Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez was lost for possibly up to two months when he fractured his collarbone making a diving catch on a Ryan Roberts short fly ball.

    While Gomez’ injury is certainly devastating to the Brewers’ chances in the tight NL Central race, Drew’s injury is even more so for the D-Backs’ hopes for a playoff spot in October.

    Drew was hitting .252 with 5 five home runs and 45 runs batted in at the time of his injury, but more importantly, his stellar defense (only seven errors in 345 total chances) has been a key component for the D-Backs since Drew’s arrival midway through the 2006 season.

    A career .270 hitter, Drew’s presence in the D-Backs lineup will be sorely missed, especially by manager Kirk Gibson.

    “We know how important Stephen is but if you have been around the game for a while it happens,” Gibson told Bob Baum of the Associated Press. “It is fairly common that you are going to lose star players. You hope it doesn’t happen to you. We now know what the Giants are feeling (with their loss of Buster Posey. We are in a similar situation and we need to find a way to get through it. Nothing we can do about it. We wish him well just hope he has a good recovery and he resumes his career next year.”

    The Diamondbacks are currently 4.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West race, and five games behind the Atlanta Braves in the race for the Wild Card spot.

    So how can the D-Backs overcome the injury to Drew?

    Here are five possible replacements.

    Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.

1. Willie Bloomquist

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    Utility man Willie Bloomquist has been one of most valuable players off the bench for the Diamondbacks throughout the season. Playing both left field and shortstop, Bloomquist is hitting .271 with two HR and 11 RBI in a limited role thus far.

    Bloomquist has never been a full-time player, save for the 2009 season with the Kansas City Royals, so whether or not he can step up and shine in Drew’s absence is a big question mark.

2. Brandon Inge: Detroit Tigers

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    Long-time Detroit Tigers third baseman Brandon Inge was designated for assignment by the Tigers on Wednesday after acquiring Wilson Betemit from the Kansas City Royals.

    Inge has been in a season-long slump, hitting just .177 with one HR and 17 RBI. A change of scenery could be the fix for Inge. Ryan Roberts could slide over to play shortstop to make room for Inge in the infield.

    This is an unlikely scenario, given the fact that Roberts has very little experience playing shortstop and the fact that Inge would be a huge gamble given his current numbers. However, there are few options available on the trade market for middle infielders at this point.

3. Jamey Carroll: Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers has made all the right moves thus far in his first full season as D-Backs’ GM—Towers has also indicated the Diamondbacks will explore opportunities to upgrade if the right deal made sense.

    Obviously with the injury to Stephen Drew, making a deal to acquire a shortstop would make sense. Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Jamey Carroll has been rumored to be available, and has been one of the most valuable players for the Dodgers over the past two seasons.

    Acquiring Carroll could be difficult, considering the Dodgers GM Ned Colletti could be very wary in trading Carroll within his own division.

4. Clint Barmes: Houston Astros

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    Considering the relative dearth of middle infielders currently on the trade market, the Diamondbacks may have to make some calls just to inquire about possible availability of players. One of those players could be Houston Astros second baseman/shortstop Clint Barmes.

    Barmes, currently hitting .253 with 5 HR and 18 RBI, could act as a two-month rental, signed through this season only for $3.93 million. The Astros will be selling off pieces over the next two weeks in order to rebuild under new incoming owner Jim Crane, and Barmes would likely not cost much for the D-Backs.

5. Edgar Renteria: Cincinnati Reds

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    On a one-year contract for $2.1 million, Cincinnati Reds shortstop Edgar Renteria, last season’s World Series hero for the San Francisco Giants, has lost playing time to Zack Cozart and could be made available by the Reds.

    Although Renteria is hitting just .232 with one home run and 14 RBI, it's hard to ignore his clutch play when needed. His experience and veteran presence could have a calming effect on a D-Backs’ team reeling from the loss of Stephen Drew.