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Yankees must put Stephen Drew in best position to succeed

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The Yankees left Brian Roberts out at second base to languish in 2014. They shouldn't make the same mistake in 2015 with Stephen Drew.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It's not the easiest thing in the world to talk yourself into being excited about bring back a player who hit under .162 in 300 plate appearances the year before. Still, the Yankees saw fit to bring Stephen Drew back into the fold for another year and at least a five million dollar payout. I'm not going to try to instill enthusiasm in anyone about the move, but it does at least help set up the Yankees to have a deeper, better infield than the disaster they put out there in 2014. The important thing is the that the Yankees appreciate Drew's limitations and put him in the best position to succeed.

Drew's career average of 93 wRC+ would have placed him 13th among the 25 second basemen with 400 plate appearances in 2014. So that would be squarely middle of the pack, which combined with what has been perceived to be above average defensive capabilities could make him an adequate starter at second. But he's projected to hit worse than that, and those projections might even be a little bullish considering just how awful Drew was last year. While the lack of a spring training could explain a slow start, Drew actually declined as the season went on. So a precipitous decline in ability could be a possible reason for factors like his laughably low .194 BABIP rather than just a string of unfortunate luck.

When you have a veteran on a short-term deal who you're hoping for a bounceback season from, you could either just throw him out there and hope for the best (Roberts, Kevin Youkilis) or you could put him in a more scaled back role. The obvious situation for Drew would be a platoon with the right-handed Jose Pirela since Drew has a definitive split (70 wRC+ vs. LHP, 101 vs. RHP) over his career. Sticking a cheap veteran in a platoon role to maximize his usefulness is something more forward-thinking teams like the Rays, Red Sox and A's have done with frequency and success over the past few years, so it might behoove the Yankees to do the same with Drew. And if he falters, at least Pirela will have gotten some at-bats to have been evaluated in his own right. It's not a dynamic solution to the Yankees' lineup woes, but it could very well prove effective.

There still might be some temptation for Joe Girardi to give Drew the everyday job at second base. He has the appearance of a known commodity: many years of experience under his belt, past success and is only entering his age 32 season. But after such an amazingly awful season, Drew should be fighting for his baseball career and his role on the Yankees in 2015 should reflect that. The margin of error should be very slim, particularly if Rob Refsnyder continues his ascent. At least it's only a one year deal this time around for a veteran with question marks.