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The Yankees' bizarre love affair with Stephen Drew continues

"Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Albert Einstein didn't really say this, but it's true nonetheless.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

When the Yankees first acquired Stephen Drew in their first trade with the Boston Red Sox since 1997, the reaction in New York was a resounding "meh." Drew was hitting .176/.255/.328 at the time, but he wasn't far removed from a productive 2013. All the Yankees were giving up as an also unimpressive Kelly Johnson and the player Drew was primarily replacing, Brian Roberts, hadn't exactly endeared himself to New York fans by petrifying in front of their eyes. Then somehow in the 46 games he played for the Yankees in 2014, Drew managed to do what many thought impossible. He got worse. Drew hit .150/.219/.271 in pinstripes and stumbled defensively too, posting a -20.3 UZR/150 at second base. So it's no surprise that when the Yankees re-signed him this January for a guaranteed $5 mil to once again man second, that resounding "meh" morphed into deafening rage. Drew would be back, continuing to block sort-of prospects Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder. It's mid May now and he hasn't changed anyone's mind. Time to accept defeat and move on.

Drew's .183/.272/.358 triple slash is better than last year's, but it's based partly on an early home run to fly ball rate that's since plummeted back to earth. Drew's 20.9% hard hit ball rate is a career low that's continued a trend that began last season, and so is his 15.3% line drive rate. His 20.6% strikeout rate is too high for a guy without much power, and he's pulling balls at a career-high 53.5% rate, making him an easy target for infield shifts. Though second base isn't a premium offensive position, Drew's 72 wRC+ ranks third worst among 23 major leaguers with a qualified number of plate appearances there this season. His -0.2 fWAR is second worst behind Chase Utley and tied with Daniel Murphy, both of whom are much more likely to see positive regression. Drew's wOBA of .246 as a Yankee is the second worst in team history among players with 250 plate appearances or more, trailing only dead ball era third baseman Ezra Midkiff for all-time futility, a bit worse than names like Ramiro Pena, Bubba Crosby and Tony Womack.

The real issue with Drew isn't so much how he's playing - he's performing pretty much as should have been expected - but that the Yankees seem to have a valuation of his worth that's not in touch with the reality of the past two seasons. When he was signed in January it marked Brian Cashman's third attempt and second successful attempt at acquiring him over two calendar years. Compared with other entrants on the Yankees' low-wOBA list, Drew is in the lineup ridiculously often. Pena was a bench player behind one of the great offensive infields of all time in 2009 and 2010 and Womack was well...Womacked early in the season in 2005 to make way for Robinson Cano. Drew has appeared in 81 of a possible 93 games for the Yankees since his acquisition last July. With Jose Pirela playing sparsely thus far, with Rob Refsnyder still working on his defense at AAA, and with Drew now adding backup third baseman to a list of roles that already includes starting second baseman and reserve shortstop, it seems his time on the field is only going to increase.

Here's what Brian Cashman had to say upon trading for Drew on July 31st, 2014:

"We believe in Stephen's abilities, we certainly have a great deal of respect for his athleticism. We're asking for him to accept a new challenge, and we believe that his abilities will allow him to do that."

And here's Joe Girardi just three days ago:

"I watch his at-bats, and I feel he is going to go off on a hot streak. He gets a few hits one day and it just hasn't happened, which I am surprised, I am really surprised. He had a good spring, and he has had some big hits for us. It hasn't carried over into his average this year, but I still think he is going to hit."

GM's and managers are generally obligated to talk up their own guys, but when coupling these remarks with what's being written into daily lineups, it seems that despite over a half season of first hand empirical data, the Yankees' opinion of Drew hasn't changed.

Drew isn't the only Yankee middle-infielder that's struggling, so why single him out? Didi Gregorius has been even worse at the plate with a .517 OPS through Saturday along with a lousy 6.0 percent walk rate and a .038 ISO. The difference, though, is that Gregorius is a 25-year-old project who the team is trying to develop into a viable long-term solution, so a little more patience is required. Even in the fantasy land where Cashman and Girardi are currently residing, Drew isn't a long-term solution to anything. Gregorius' non-production, though, does exacerbate the need to fix one of the two spots. There are existing potential upgrades at second, while there aren't at short. Pirela has arguably earned a shot and Refsnyder has a 19-game on-base streak at Scranton Wilkes-Barre after a rocky start. He may not remind anyone of Willie Randolph in the field, but he's at least stopped making an error a game. If the Yankees have no hope for their internal options, then it's time to look for an external one. Second base will always be an easier position to upgrade via trade than short.

For the sake of fairness, there are certain things that Drew does well. He's an above average defensive shortstop and while he's compiled a -14.5 UZR/150 at second over the past two seasons, his fielding there at least passes the eye test. If he successfully adds third to his repertoire as the Yankees have asked, that will also help. Drew's 11.1 percent walk rate this year has been his only saving grace at the plate. Those skills would make Drew a perfectly fine utility infielder. But there's no way he should still be starting.