PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 19: Manager Kirk Gibson #23 of the Arizona Diamondbacks takes the ball from Diamondbacks starting pitcher Daniel Hudson #41 after being pulled from the game against the Seattle Mariners at Chase Field on June 19, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
In this weeks column, writer Cody Ulm tries to figure out why Stephen Drew is still on the waivers while sifting through Daniel Hudson's season long struggles.
Inconsistent. Inconsistent has to be the first word that comes to mind for an Arizona fan describing the Diamondbacks this season. Well, either that or Bieber Fever but that's two words and you'd have to talk to J.J. Putz to understand that one.
Yes, you'd probably be correct in saying that they aren't even the biggest culprits of inconsistency on this roster but this is my column so I call the damn shots! I'm sorry baby I didn't mean that...I just yell sometimes because I just get so scared.
I guess now you're assuming this is the part I'm supposed to start singing Exile's "I Wanna Kiss You All Over" to you. Well you're wrong! We're here to talk some serious fantasy business...TILL THE NIGHT CLOSES IN!
Don't Fear The Ankle
The perpetually rehabbing Stephen Oris Drew officially began a stretch of three straight starts in the field at AAA Tuesday, a very encouraging sign on his road to recovery from one of the most gruesome ankle injuries you'll ever see. The bad news? Only a day before, manager Kirk Gibson shared that it could be a while before Drew is a full-time player even after he makes it all the way back to the majors.
Obviously Drew wont be a fantasy commodity playing only once every three days for the D-backs but you'd be naive to think that will last longer than a week or two. Sure, Willie Bloomquist has been quite impressive for the past month and a half and John McDonald has proven he can swing a solid bat to go along with his superb defense but it's Stephen Drew we're talking about here. The man has been a Diamondback longer than anyone else on the roster and his lead-by-example type presence could finally bring some stability to that clubhouse.
Already through his first six games at Reno, he's batting .292 with a homer and a pair of RBI. No, not the most gaudy of numbers but you have to remember this man has been a perennial top-10 fantasy shortstop since essentially his major league debut back in 2006. And somehow he's still available in 84.4% of ESPN fantasy leagues!
Forgive me, I'm yelling again. I just can't believe more owners aren't stashing him with his proven track record and the numbers the D-backs' offense has been putting up lately. Plus, back in March, I pointed out that Drew was on pace to set a new career high in RBI last year thanks to Gibson's tendencies to move him throughout the lineup.
So if you have a DL or bench spot to spare and could use some middle infield help, grab Drew immediately. For the rest of the season, I'd take Drew over the likes of Dee Gordon, Ian Desmond, Mike Aviles and Jed Lowrie, all players currently ranked in the top ten at the shortstop position on ESPN's player rater.
What The Heck Happened To Huddy?
And where is the man who gave the Diamondbacks 222 quality innings last season? It's a serious question and one that apparently he can't find an answer to himself. This is what he was quoted saying after Tuesday's poor start (4 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 6 K) against the Mariners when asked if he could determine what's at the root of his troubles:
"I can't, man," he said. "I wish I could. If I could put a finger on it, I'd try to fix it."
Not the reassuring words that fantasy owners wanted to hear but it's the truth. Hudson still looks like exactly the same pitcher D-backs fans have come to quickly know; his fastball hasn't lost a bit of velocity and his changeup is still as dangerous as it's always been as a complementary pitch. The simple captain obvious evaluation is that he's struggling with location for the first time in his career.
If you don't believe me, go back and watch the fifth inning of his last start. Hudson was cruising before letting two men on base to start the inning. But even then, it looked like he was going to do the typical Huddy lock down, getting Kyle Seager down 0-2 in the count before hanging a pitch right in the young slugger's wheel house. Only two batter's later, Hudson was removed before a single out was recorded.
One might guess Hudson is still dealing with some shoulder trouble from his earlier DL stint but that's seems hard to believe as he still is touching the occasional 94-95 MPH on the radar gun. So at this point, the diagnosis for his issues falls in the category of mental.
If you're a believe that this is simply a case of a young pitcher learning to deal with the first true speed bump in a otherwise smooth career, then buy low. At this point, you should be able to get quite the bargain for the 25-year-old righty. And for those of you who are feeling extra adventurous, you could always cross your fingers and hope he gets blown up by the Braves (A.K.A. the NL's fourth best offense) in his next start to get him for even cheaper.
If you're the poor sap who already owns Hudson though (cough, cough, me), I'd advise you sit and wait. Nothing you could get for Huddy at this point isn't worth the upside he offers the rest of the season if he can figure everything out. Then again, the whole good start followed by a bad start thing could simply stem from the fact his workload went up nearly 130 innings from 2010 to 2011. And in that case, may the fantasy gods have mercy on our souls.