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Guess Drew's Coming to Dinner...

Rejected titles for this piece:
Drew's On First...Or Shortstop...Or in the Outfield
Justin Time...
Drew's $7.5m Is It Anyway?

Last night's mind-control lecture was very interesting, and disturbingly convincing. The basic premise was that the technology to influence someone's behaviour, remotely, was publicly demonstrated in 1965, when Dr Jose Delgado flicked a switch, stopping a charging bull. And if they could openly do that forty years ago, what can the military-intelligence complex do now?

I mention this because the thought strikes me that, the next time we have an overpriced holdout, we simply pass a couple of million (in small, unmarked bills) to a black ops section of the CIA - they're always in need of funding - and get them to target the prospect. "You will sign for the Diamondbacks... You will only ask for a box of Crackerjack and a Shawn Green autographed picture..." Quicker, cheaper, smarter.

Despite my luke-warmness to the idea, I confess a small thrill ripple ran through me, when I heard we'd finally signed Stephen Drew. While $7.5m is still a ludicrous amount of money to pay a draft pick, it saves me years of watching Drew's career with another team, say the Yankees, and wishing him ill. That kind of thing is bad for one's karma. Besides, it's not my money.

So, with it now a done deal, what are the effects of dropping a stone like Drew into the cool pond of the Diamondbacks draft system? Let's start with the basics: "Drew, a former Florida State shortstop, signed a five-year big league contract with the Diamondbacks, who took him 15th. Drew will receive a $4 million bonus over to be paid over four years and is guaranteed a minimum of $5.5 million. He also can make another $2 million in incentives that a source close to the negotiations describes as easily attainable." -- Baseball America

There does appear to be a discrepancy - possibly for face-saving reasons - between the sides over the deal. Said Boras, "The club made its best offer at the deadline. I wish they would have made it last June, but that's just how the process works." However, according to managing partner Ken Kendrick, "We never budged." I think Boras is probably attempting to justify holding out for almost a year, and suspect any last-minute changes to the offer were cosmetic at best, likely dealing with the installments in which the bonus is paid.

This can only be a good thing - even for Boras. If Drew (and fellow holdout Jered Weaver) had gone back into the draft this season, it would have pushed every other Boras client down the list, resulting in smaller payoffs for all. Also, clubs would have had the ghosts of these failures lurking behind their shoulders while making choices - using a high draft-pick on a Boras client would have felt even more of a risk. Instead, according to one scouting executive, "I think it opens the door for clubs to take another look at his guys if it seems he's going to be more negotiable."

But more on the effect these signings will have on the 2005 draft later. What about Drew and his immediate future? Hopefully, the year of virtual inactivity won't have hurt his prospects too badly. [This might be more a problem for a pitcher like Weaver] Going by the way he hit for Camden, rust doesn't appear to have set in: Drew finished there hitting .427, and went 3-for-4 with a grand slam in his last game.

He's going to go to High Class-A Lancaster, but I imagine his stay there will be relatively brief, and he should be up to AA Tennessee before the end of the summer. Of course, he should have been doing this last year, which is where Boras's tactics failed - his failed holdout has, in the long run, cost his client a year of major-league salary. Then, 2006 in Triple-A, and slap him on the roster for Opening Day 2007.

Less certain is the question of whereabout he'll play. There's general agreement on Drew's skills: high average, decent power, good wheels. Defensively, a certain uncomfortable silence descends, and while his core position is shortstop, there are suggestions he'll be moved to either CF or 2B. Second base would be credible, but I'd rather see how he copes at an infield slot, if he has any ability at all: he has the potential to be a superstar there, rather than merely above-average. Besides, our outfield is already clogged enough, between prospects and Shaun Green.

One minor point to note is that Drew signed a "major league" contract, which I believe puts him on the 40-man roster immediately. I presume a corresponding roster move would be needed, but I've not heard of one at this point.

With this out of the way, it draws a line under the 2004 draft: interested readers, however, should check out William K's exhaustive recap of our choices, and how they've performed. It also clears the deck for this year's draft. The official line is that Drew's signing will not affect our choice; we'll still go for the player generally regarded as the best in the draft, Justin Upton, a shortstop from Great Bridge High School, in Virginia. According to Peter Gammons, "Arizona's player personnel director Mike Rizzo...has seen more than 90 Upton at-bats. He is taking him."

However, Drew certainly could change things, in two ways. Firstly, how many top shortstop prospects does our system need? Especially since Upton, coming from high school, would likely be longer in the minor-league pipeline. Secondly, and more conspiratorially, it has been suggested that part of the deal with Drew involved Arizona passing on Upton, and taking another Boras client with the first pick instead. The obvious candidates would be three college pitchers, Craig Hansen (St. John's), Luke Hochevar (Tennessee) and Mike Pelfrey (Wichita State).

Personally, I think this would be foolish. Certainly, our farm system has slim pickings at the moment in the pitching department, but in the first round, you should take the best player available, and the consensus in 2005 is, that's Upton. I do have qualms about picking a high-school (Moneyball was convincing in this area), but if we pass on him, you can be fairly certain this was part of the deal with Boras to get Drew.

Finally, here's a possible Opening Day lineup for 2007:
LF Terrero
RF Quentin
1B Jackson
3B Glaus
2B Drew
CF Hairston
SS Santos
C Snyder
P Vazquez

With Upton probably lurking at AAA (and Green sitting on the bench, incidentally). I have to say, looking at that potential list makes me feel quite good about the future of the organization. The next few years could be good ones to be a Diamondbacks' fan.