The Mets’ “will they-won’t they” pursuit of free agent shortstop Stephen Drew has all the drama of a series of text messages between high school crushes.
Drew: “Hey. I might go to the mall later with the Boston Red Sox, but if you’d rather hang out… But whatevs. Up 2 U.”
Mets: “Whatever u wanna do. FYI - not really looking for anything long-term.”
Red Sox: “Chillin’ wit Xander Bogaerts tonight. Had fun last yr tho.”
Drew: “ :( “
Mets: “Call us later if ur not busy ;) ”
At least I think that’s how it’d go. I haven’t been in high school for a while.
But the point here is, the Mets are doing a careful dance with Drew while many of their fans wish the team would stop staring and just tango.
Is Drew really worth the flirtation, however?
Drew has built a reputation as a superb defender, though that may be overblown. In 7,942.2 innings at shortstop he has two Defensive Runs Saved, an advanced stat that’s the primary defensive metric in the Wins Above Replacement stat. His career Ultimate Zone Rating per 150 games is -3.3 (though he’s posted a positive value in four of the past five seasons). UZR is an advanced stat that measures a fielder’s ability to get to a ball hit in his zone. For comparison, Brendan Ryan, one of the slickest shortstops in the majors, has 97 DRS in 5,462.1 innings and an 11.7 UZR/150.
The third volume of The Fielding Bible describes Drew’s defense through 2011:
“Drew’s glovework isn’t as flashy as others across the league, but he gets the job done. His defense is best described as quietly efficient, as he makes even difficult plays look routine. He is very good at making plays deep in the hole thanks to his strong arm. Though he lacks the overall great range you would want in a shortstop, Drew makes up for it by limiting his mistakes.”
Offensively, Drew has been above league average just four times during his eight-year career, posting an OPS+ above 100 in 2006 (117), 2008 (110), 2010 (113) and 2013 (111). His 162-game average is a .264 average, .329 on-base percentage and .764 OPS. But, of course, that’s misleading, considering Drew has topped 135 games played only three times, the most-recent time coming in 2010. He’s totaled 289 games during the last three seasons, an average of 96.3 games per year.
Given the injury question marks, the lack of clear suitors and a relatively unspectacular skillset, perhaps it’s Drew who should be chasing the Mets.