Best Local Boy Gone Bad

J.D. Drew

"I really hope he means what he says when he says he wants to play the game of baseball. If someone wants to play and is fiddling over $11 million, that shows he doesn't want to play very much. I'm from the old school -- that you've got to prove yourself in the big leagues and that's where you make your money." That was Mark McGwire speaking about recalcitrant Cardinal prospect J.D. Drew back in 1998, as the Redbirds' young first-round draft pick was weighing whether to sign with the club. A year earlier Drew had opted to play with the minor-minor-minor-league St. Paul Saints rather than sign with the Philadelphia Phillies, who'd made him their top pick out of Florida State but couldn't meet his contract demands (said to be more than $10 million). Drew eventually inked a four-year deal with the Cards that guaranteed him $7 million-plus. But the weak-kneed right fielder has never played more than 135 games in any of his five full major-league seasons. This year, at age 27, he's being paid $3.6 million mostly to warm the pine. If the front office seems uncertain about what to do with Drew, Cardinal fans have already lost their collective patience. After he sat at the epicenter of the trade-rumor mill in July, an early-August injury suffered during batting practice landed our anti-hero on the disabled list for the sixth time in his career -- if not for the last time as a Cardinal.
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