The second place Arizona Diamondbacks took a major hit last night with the gruesome injury to starting shortstop Stephen Drew. Drew’s fractured right ankle will require surgery and he is not expected back this season.
Drew, a catalyst for the upstart Diamondbacks in their impressive surge towards first place, was batting .252 with 5 home runs and 45 RBIs so far this year.
Drew, who has manned the shortstop position for the D'Backs for the past five seasons, is a leader in the clubhouse and a valued member of the offensive lineup. Replacing him will be a difficult task for GM Kevin Towers, who now must look to bolster the team via trade or magical act.
Drew’s backup, utility man Willie Bloomquist, is not a long term solution because of the fact that he is needed to be available to fill in at multiple positions both in the infield and the outfield. So since Bloomquist cannot be the answer, the D'Backs must play the trade market.
Here are five options for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who must act swiftly.
Cody Ransom, who has already been called up to take Stephen Drew’s roster spot, has been on a complete tear for the Triple-A Reno Aces. Ransom, 35 years old, has played in the major leagues for four teams including both the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies.
As seen here with the Yankees, Ransom got to play both third base for Alex Rodriguez and shortstop for Derek Jeter in limited roles.
Ransom has torn up Triple-A this season, batting .330 with 26 home runs and 89 RBIs, along with nine stolen bases. Pretty incredible stats for a utility infielder who has struggled to hit .200 in previous seasons.
However, those stats are just Triple-A. Not to discredit any level of professional baseball, but major league pitching is significantly more difficult.
At the end of the day, Ransom might be able to hold his own and produce enough for the D'Backs that they do not need to make a move to bolster the lineup. Ransom’s versatility will also help him in case Willie Bloomquist plays phenomenally, and then Ransom can take over Bloomquist’s role.
What a game changer this would be.
Hanley Ramirez, the three-time All-Star currently mired in a season-long slump, is batting .253 with 10 home runs and 42 RBIs. However, over Ramirez’s seven seasons he has a career average of .308 while averaging 26 home runs and 83 RBIs a year.
The D'Backs could make a huge splash and decide to get Ramirez, which would mean that Stephen Drew would move to second base next season. Since Ramirez is signed through the next four seasons, the D'Backs would have a dynamite middle of the infield, with two sensational defenders and two consistent offensive producers.
It would take a ton to entertain the Florida Marlins, who are actually on the upswing themselves over the last month. The Marlins are only four games under .500, but still in last place in the NL East. Dealing Ramirez seems like an extreme long shot, but the D'Backs have the prospects in Josh Collmenter and Paul Goldschmidt.
It would require both of these highly touted prospects, plus probably more to snag Hanley, but it could make the difference this season in winning the pennant. Plus, the buzz around Phoenix would be incredible when Hanley comes to town.
A much more likely scenario, since the Houston Astros are stuck in last place and looking to sell as many older players as possible. Barmes was the Colorado Rockies second baseman and shortstop for many years, so the Diamondbacks are quite familiar with him.
Currently batting .253 with five home runs and 18 RBIs (a testament to how few runners the Astros get on base), Barmes has been a serviceable shortstop. Now, with the Astros’ ownership changing and Astros GM Ed Wade calling teams about getting the most for his players, Wade could get a little more from the vulnerable D'Backs.
Barmes is making almost $4 million this season, so the D'Backs could be on the hook for around $2 million. However, giving the Astros a mid-level prospect or even packaging another player to get dynamite starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez would be a huge pickup.
Clint is a veteran bat who would solidify the current hole in the infield while bringing a good glove and a decent bat to Phoenix.
In this scenario, Toronto infielder John McDonald would be acquired to work with Willie Bloomquist and share duties, or even compete with him for the starting position. McDonald is a 13-year veteran who has never played in the National League, making this pickup risky but also mysterious.
McDonald is batting .225 this season for the Toronto Blue Jays, but is a great defender and finds ways to help teams. He is going to be a free agent after the season and the Blue Jays are not committed to signing him longer, so the D'Backs could acquire him for next to nothing.
Especially considering he is only making $1.5 million this season, the D'Backs would be on the line for less than $750,000.
McDonald is a quality player who is a great clubhouse guy with an excellent work ethic, making him a valuable presence even if his on-the-field production is not at the level it once was.
The Arizona D'Backs are hoping that their search does not get to Rafael Furcal, who is the starting shortstop for division rival Los Angeles Dodgers, because he has been terrible this season. Furcal, a two-time All-Star and lifetime .283 hitter, has been dreadful this season while fighting numerous injuries. Currently batting .171, he has just 19 hits in 111 at-bats.
Furcal is making over $10 million this season, making him a very expensive pickup for a contending team that might want to bolster other aspects of their squad. Furcal, however, has excellent speed and possesses a great glove.
Furcal is going to be a free agent after the season which works to the Diamondbacks' advantage, because they can just pay him the rest of his contract and then go back to Stephen Drew in 2012.
The D’Backs might acquire Rafael Furcal in hopes he can repeat his other clutch performances in the past for a contending team, and regain his form that made him a .300 hitter only a season ago.