Stephen Drew Is ‘That Guy’ for the 2015 Yankees

Stephen Drew

Every Yankees season comes with “that guy” and you don’t want to be “that guy”. Right now, Stephen Drew is “that guy” for the 2015 season.

Sometimes there’s more than one “that guy”. Last year, we were blessed with two of them in Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson. And when they were finally released and traded respectively, Brian Cashman was nice enough to give us a handful of bad relievers to fill the void. In 2013, the entire team was built of “that guy” with Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis (when he played), Chris Stewart and David Adams playing for the Yankees, and I’m being nice by only including those names. In 2012, we were treated to a second year of Freddy Garcia and with him came a 5.20 ERA, Andruw Jones’ .197 average and we also got 39 appearances from Cory Wade and his 6.46 ERA. Get the picture?

I wish I could say that A.J.Burnett, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira could be classified as “that guy” in recent years, but they can’t. See, to be “that guy” your contract has to be reasonable enough that the Yankees could release you at any time without eating a ridiculous amount of money. Actually, I guess you could call A.J. Burnett “that guy” since the Yankees were willing to trade him for two minor leaguers and pay the Pirates $20 million over two years just so he wouldn’t have to throw another pitch for the Yankees. Every “that guy” should have been released long before they finally were and in some cases never should have been signed to begin with. Stephen Drew matches both criteria.

In 2013, Drew “helped” the Red Sox win the World Series by going 2-for-15 () in the ALDS, 1-for-20 (.050) in the ALCS and 3-for-19 (.158) in the World Series. Then in the offseason, he turned down the Red Sox’ $14.1 million qualifying offer for 2014. He went unsigned and then re-signed with the Red Sox in May for about $10.2 million for the year, missing two months of the season and costing himself about $4 million by turning down their offer. He hit .176/.255/.328 in 39 games for the Red Sox and then was traded to the Yankees for Kelly Johnson. An historic “that guy” for “that guy” trade. (I’m still upset that Kelly Johnson ended up with the Orioles last year and got to play in the postseason.)

As a Yankee, Drew hit .150/.219/.271 in 46 games. So of course the Yankees re-signed him to a one-year, $5 million deal (with incentives it could get up $6.5 million) for 2015. A month after acquiring Didi Gregorius to be their shortstop of the future, the Yankees signed Drew to be their second baseman, blocking a path to the majors for both Rob Refsnyder (who hit .342 in Double-A and .300 in Triple-A in 2014) and Jose Pirela (who Reggie Jackson called the best hitter in the organization this spring training). But I guess when you have the chance to block two of the best position player prospects the organization has seen in a while to make a roster spot for Stephen Drew, it’s a move you have to make. On Monday, Joe Girardi made it clear that Drew is the Yankees’ second baseman.

“We signed (Stephen Drew) to be our second baseman,” Girardi said. “We didn’t sign him to struggle. We signed him to play at a very high level, and we expect that he will.”

Well, Joe you did sign Drew to struggle because that’s all he’s done. Actually, you traded for him to struggle in a garbage-for-garbage trade with Kelly Johson and then after he struggled, you signed him again anyway despite having traded for a shortstop and with depth at second base in the minors.

I have always pictured the Drews (like the Weavers) driving around Georgia in the early 90s with J.D. and Stephen in the back and the “O’Doyle Rules!” family scene from Billy Madison taking place. The fact that both Drews have World Series rings and both with the Red Sox is so effed up it makes me hate sports. But Drew is making it easier and easier as a case to unanimously be “that guy” for this season because it seems like with each out he makes this spring, Refsnyder and Pirela add another hit to their March stats.

If Drew continues to play this way, hopefully the situation will take care of itself before Opening Day and I won’t have to worry once the games actually count. Girardi will likely recite his story about Raul Ibanez during 2012 spring training and how bad he was entering the season, trying to make believers out of Drew’s critics, as if what happened three years ago with a player offensively better than Drew has any relevance to Drew’s struggles.

On April 6, I will have no choice but to root for Drew and be a Drew fan. Once Opening Day comes, if Drew is going to be a Yankee then I will want him to do well to help the team win since that’s all the matters. But if Drew continues to struggle the way that Girardi says he isn’t here to do, he will eventually be released the way “that guy” each year has been before. If that happens, I hope the Yankees haven’t lost too many games before it does.