The St. Louis Cardinals' thin infield will be the sight of most of our 2012 rumor-mongering, and Stephen Drew is the Hot Stove League's newest available target after the Oakland Athletics declined his $10 million option Monday afternoon. If you like reclamation projects, injury-prone ex-stars, and hearing that anecdote about him being nicknamed "Dirt" while he practiced with the Cardinals during brother J.D. Drew's tenure, begin holding your breath—he'll become a free agent over the weekend.
Drew's health problems are definitely worth worrying about; he hit a combined .223/.309/.348 between Arizona and Oakland after returning from a major ankle injury at midseason, and in a very small sample size his defensive numbers looked a little messy.
But the Cardinals are building from such a low base at second—and so in need of depth at shortstop, with Rafael Furcal set to reprise his role as injury-prone starter—that even if Drew failed to bounce back to his defense-and-line-drives heights he'd be an upgrade, for 80 or 90 games, on Daniel Descalso and Pete Kozma.
Signing Stephen Drew probably won't make or break the Cardinals, in 2013, but he fits their post-Pujols profile pretty well—whether he turns into Lance Berkman 2011 or Lance Berkman 2012, he'd be a worthy gamble.