Fast Forward: 2011 Outfield

Even though the Yankees are in the midst of a battle for the AL East against the menace known as the Tampa Bay Rays, and trying to defend their world title, one cannot help  but speculate what the future holds, especially when it involves the speedy left fielder Carl Crawford.

Crawford, who has spent his entire nine season career in Tampa Bay, will be a free agent at the end of this season.  Through those nine season, Crawford has averaged a .295 batting average, 13 home runs, 77 RBI’s with an OBP of .336.  This season, Crawford is hitting .284 with 15 home runs, 71 RBI’s with an OBP of .347.

Perhaps his greatest tool, Crawford possesses absolutely tremendous speed, stealing 41 bases in 51 attempts, currently second in the American League behind Juan Pierre of the Chicago White Sox.

There is no doubt that the Yankees will be interested in Crawford, especially with his left handed stroke in Yankee Stadium.  He will command big money, perhaps in the 16-20 million per year range, and money has never been an issue with the Yankees.

The only question would be the length of the deal.  At 29 years old, he will undoubtedly command a 6-7 year deal, maybe more.  One can only speculate that there are worries if his legs will hold up, especially towards the tail end of that deal, when he will be 35-36 years old.  He is an incredible athlete though, which is a positive.

But, with a possible addition of Crawford, that will mean a subtraction of either Curtis Granderson or Brett Gardner.  Nick Swisher is a lock for next season, especially with the year he has put together, as well as his improved defensive abilities.

If I were to guess, it would be Brett Gardner getting the bump.  Playing his first full year as a starter, Gardner thus far has put together a pretty good and respectable season, hitting .284 with five home runs, 41 RBI’s with an OBP of .389.  He also has 39 stolen bases in 46 attempts.  But, after a fast start to the year, he hasn’t been hitting as well of late.  Perhaps Gardner could take a reserve role, backing up Crawford and Granderson while providing blazing speed off the bench.  Gardner could even be used as trade bait.

Granderson has struggled mightily at times this season, and he has had stretches where he flourishes.  He is hitting .249 with 17 home runs and 45 RBI’s this season. He tweaked his swing with Kevin Long in Kansas City, and ever since then he has been hitting better.  But, it is after all his first season in New York, and many players struggle in their first full season with the Yankees, adjusting to the Yankee lifestyle.  Who knows, perhaps working more with Long in the off season and going into next year with some New York Experience, Granderson could very well get his offensive numbers back to where they were last season with Detroit.

But, next seasons outfield may look exactly like this seasons.  Crawford may not even land with the Yankees.  He could very well stay put in Tampa Bay, although very unlikely, or he could sign elsewhere.  Boston and the Los Angeles Angels of Anahiem are also possible destinations for Crawford.

About Steve Henn

Yankee fan living in Rhode Island. Aspiring Yankee beat writer. Hockey player and coach.

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10 Responses to Fast Forward: 2011 Outfield

  1. Rob Abruzzese says:

    I think the choice comes down to Gardner, Crawford, or Werth. Personally I would prefer to go with Gardner. His OBP is very impressive even if he has fallen off some. And he will earn significantly less so the Yankees can use those resources in other areas.

  2. Steve Henn says:

    Werth in New York scares me. After reading that piece in SI about him and his privacy, he would get eaten alive in New York. As for Crawford and Gardner, it will be interesting. Crawford's a guy with a track record, so he may be the safer bet. But Gardner has proven this year he can get it done on the big stage. Only time will tell.

  3. Rob Abruzzese says:

    I don't think Werth's privacy is that big of a deal. It's not like he can't handle talking with the media, he's been through two world series and handled that without any incident whatsoever. He just wants to keep his private life private. Which you can do if you are smart about it, a la Jeter. You just can't be like A-Rod, where your private life is very private and expect not to talk about it. It's not like Philadelphia doesn't have a ton of media, they do, and they are known for being quite harsh.

  4. Steve Henn says:

    But it is still the New York media, which is much more unforgiving. But, if Werth can handle the media as well as Jeter has, then he could be a valuable asset to the Yankees. But I still prefer Crawford over Werth because of his AL experience.

  5. Eric Communiello says:

    I've really got nothing backing me up here except a hunch, but I think it's almost a lock that the Yankees won't sign Crawford this offseason.

    The Yankees organization has always seemed to like Gardner for what he brings to the team and how he plays the game, and after having a VERY good ("pretty good and respectable" absolutely doesn't cut it, sorry Steve) season thus far, it seems almost certain that Gardy will be an everyday player again next year.

    I also think Cashman has figured it out that spending big time money on a left fielder just doesn't win you championships. He'll take whatever money could go towards Crawford and throw it at Cliff Lee instead.

  6. smurfy says:

    and Gardner has growth to go. With experience, he'll learn to read pitchers better and steal more, and his bat handling skills (think of his two strike confidence) will bloom. Now, if he could just learn to bunt…

    Compared to spending $15 mm per year for the four years before Brett can go free agent, the Grit Experiment starts with a $50 mm advantage.

    Would love to watch both Crawford and Werth a lot, but Brett's our boy.

  7. Steve Henn says:

    Agreed. Signing Cliff Lee should and will be their number one target/priority this off season.

  8. Andrew 518 says:

    Not to discount the quality of player that Crawford (and to a lesser extent Werth) is but I'd rather see Gardner on his way up than two or three years of Crawford at his best and then an ultimate decline. When speed is his number one attribute I can't see it continuing at elite level past 32 or 33. Will he still be good then? Sure but not at the sallary he would command. In addition with the long term and large contracts of Rodrigez, Texeria, Sabathia, Jeter??? there is something to be said for roster flexibility.

  9. Hardcore Yankee Fan says:

    I agree with the Gardner crowd. He will be much younger and substantially cheaper over the next 5-6 years. Furthermore, Crawford has only a slight edge offensively so I never understood the overwhelming hype concerning him. He's never even had a 120 OPS+ in any year. Lastly, Gardner can play CF which is also a huge advantage, especially once Granderson's contract is up, at which point Gardner would still not be a FA.

    • Steve Henn says:

      All great comments. Pro for Crawford: His track record. Con for Crawford: Length of a possible deal. Pro for Gardner: He's a home grown Yankee. Con: Doesn't have a steady track record.

      Crawford will be a guy the Yankees will kick around this offseason, but he will not be focused on the way Cliff Lee will. I think it is safe to assume that.

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