The Houston Astros have holes going into 2014. Yes, the team was upgraded this off-season by Jeff Luhnow, but there is still more work to be done. I think even Luhnow would agree with that.
However, the Astros are operating under a clear, organized, and prioritized plan. It is perfectly understandable for fans to be lacking patience, but the prospects are coming. The problem though, as we saw last year, is that it is not easy getting to that point.
One position where that was evident in the second half of last season was shortstop. While Jonathan Villar certainly has talent, his results were mixed last year. Villar made some mental mistakes, hit just .243 in 58 games and stole 18 bases despite being caught eight times. Lapses in concentration caused Bo Porter to pull Villar at times to varying degrees of success.
It is clear that the 22-year old still has some learning to do and I’m not sure he projects as anything more than a .250 hitter in the major leagues. Cesar Izturis was signed to a minor league contract, but he does not pose much competition to Villar. In reality, Villar may prove to be nothing more than a placeholder for Carlos Correa or Nolan Fontana (depending on whether Correa ultimately stays at shortstop).
So that is why rumors of the Astros potential interest in Stephen Drew really does not surprise me. Luhnow has done a good job all winter of at least keeping abreast of free agent’s contract demands and determining whether or not they would be a fit in Houston.
On a one or two year contract, which Drew will likely have to settle for, the shortstop would be a useful signing for the Astros. But he comes with two problems. The first, is that while Drew would help the Astros, to me, he would not make a big enough impact to warrant losing a draft choice. Second, Scott Boras has been seeking about $14 million a year for his client’s services, and there are a lot better ways Luhnow could spend this money.
Last season Drew hit .253 with 13 home runs and 67 RBI’s for the Boston Red Sox. He is an injury risk, and I can’t see him doing much better than duplicating last year’s performance.
Ultimately, I don’t see the Astros signing Drew, as it just does not make sense for them. Drew would represent an improvement over Villar, but his contract demands are too outlandish and the potential loss of a draft pick does not help.