Where Does Crawford Fit For Red Sox?

The Red Sox have been extremely aggressive this offseason, trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing Carl Crawford. With Adrian Beltre on his way out and Kevin Youkilis ready to move to third, the trade for Gonzalez makes a lot of sense. The Red Sox outfield, however, is already filled with Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Cameron, and JD Drew. The Red Sox must have perceived OF to be a point of weakness though, since they just made Crawford the highest paid outfielder ever.

So how does the outfield shake out? The Red Sox could trade one of their incumbents, but dealing Ellsbury or Cameron would mean trading them when their values are at their lowest point. Drew makes a good deal of money, so I’m not sure what kind of market there would be for him either. It seems likely that Cameron will become a pricey bench player who will spell Ellsbury and Drew, who are both injury prone.

As for the actual signing, as a Yankee fan, I am pleased. Of course I don’t want the Red Sox to have Crawford, but they had to pay top dollar to get him. 7 years and $142 million is a crazy amount for a player who is 28, relies on speed, and isn’t great at getting on base. Crawford is definitely a great player, but a lot of his value lies in his tremendous base-running and defense, both of which could see a steady decline in coming years, and the Red Sox have him locked up for his age 29-35 seasons.

It is also interesting that the Red Sox have acquired one of the game’s best left fielders to play in Fenway, the smallest left field in baseball. Obviously they think his speed will still translate into great run prevention. On this count, I am going to trust that the team knows enough about it’s own park to know what Crawford can provide, despite my initial reaction that Fenway would seemingly waste Crawford’s talents.

The Yankees have no real need for Crawford and corner outfield is one of the easiest positions to fill if a need does arise. Brian Cashman had dinner with Crawford, but admitted that it was just a rouse to drive up Crawford’s price. In that regards, Cashman’s play just might have worked.

I’m sure there will be people clamoring that the Yankees should have signed Crawford, but the bottom line is the Red Sox have too many resources not to sign their share of great players. As long as the Red Sox are forced to pay accordingly for those great players, there is nothing else the Yankees need to do. Handing out a mammoth contract to a left fielder just doesn’t make any sense for the Yankees so they should be content to let the Red Sox pay that bill.

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11 Responses to Where Does Crawford Fit For Red Sox?

  1. Bronx Knight says:

    Brian, I agree with your take 100%. Crawford has great speed, but does not have a super-high OBP (Gardner's is higher) and has only average power. Crawford is a fine player, and I'm sure I'll curse him whenever he steals second against the Yanks, but objectively speaking he was over-touted.

    Maybe we can also thank the Nats and the insane deal they gave Werth, for inflating what the Red Sox had to give Crawford.

  2. bill says:

    Should have gotten Crawford. Our outfield is fairly weak. Some speed of course but none of our guys scare any good pitchers. Crawford can take over an offense like Ricky Henderson.

    Multi-tool player, one of the best in baseball right now.

    Sox will move him to center and he'll bat 2nd or 3rd. Crawford is good spark plug, plays hard and will torment pitchers when on base. Bad move by Cashman.

    • Brian Burkhart says:

      If by "fairly weak" you mean "one of the best in baseball," then alright. How do you gauge how much a player "scares" a pitcher? Who had a more productive outfield last year than the Yankees? Gardner, Swisher, and Granderson had fWARs of 5.9, 4.1, 3.6 respectively. Yes, Crawford had a 6.9, but OF is hardly a need for the Yankees.

      Why would Sox move him to CF? He's never shown he has the instincts for that position. Ellsbury/Cameron will play CF.

      Crawford is a great player to have, but at that money, it would have been crazy for the Yankees to sign him.

      • bill says:

        Come on! Remember the Yankee outfields with Mantle, Maris, Bauer, Micky Rivers, Murcer, Pinella???

        Granderson started to hit, luckily and could work out. Gardner is fast and decent, but just that. Swisher has spirit but is un-clutch.

        Our infield might be the best EVER in baseball- offense & defense combined. Our outfield doesn't scare anybody!

        Our you Brian from Crestwood?

        • Mike S. says:

          You are overvalueing some old-timers a bit. For example, Rivers. Mickey had 31 walks in 1976 and 1977—COMBINED. Not good for a speedy leadoff man. His arm was Damon-esque. Not that good.

          By way of comparison. Here are Rivers' three full seasons with the Yanks.

          1976. .312-8-67. 43 SB. OPS+ 122. OBP .327

          1977. .326-12-69 22 SB. OPS+ 115 OBP .350

          1978. .265-11-48 25 SB. OPS+ 98 OBP .302

          Gardner in 2010.

          .277-5-47 with 47 SB. OPS+ 106 OBP .383. Defense Gold-Glove caliber. Rivers had more pop than Gardner, but much lower OBP and a weaker arm. Also note Gardner had more SB.

          Murcer was my favorite player as a kid, but he wasn't the best CF. Thus his position switch to RF in 1974. Even with a shorter porch (but deeper alleys), Murcer had just one year (33, 1972) when he hit more HR than Swisher had this year. Swish had an .870 OPS this year. Only in 1971 and 1972 did Murcer exceed that.

          Piniella was adequate defensively. Good hitter but his high in HR was 12 and only one year over 75 RBI (and that was with KC). His career OPS was .741. Gardner had a .762 last year.

          Bauer topped 20 HR twice. 80 RBI once.

          I'm not saying here that Murcer, Rivers, Lou or Bauer were bad players. They weren't, obviously. They were good but had flaws. They did play in a different park and in some cases, against better pitching.

          What I am saying is that this OF isn't as bad as you think. The numbers put up by Gardner, Granderson and Swisher compare favorably against some of the players you mentioned.

  3. bill says:

    ARE you Brian from Crestwood, sorry

  4. Brian Burkhart says:

    I didn't say the current Yankee OF is the best Yankee OF ever. I said it is currently one of the best in baseball – which it is.

    Gardner was excellent last season, though I can understand having some skepticism going forward. Swisher is a very good player. Calling him "unclutch" doesn't mean anything. I think A-Rod proved in 2009 that the whole clutch thing is a myth. Any player can look great over the course of a few games and great players can look bad.

    In 2009 the infield, offensively, was amazing, but last year Jeter was pretty terrible. Defensively, both A-Rod and Jeter are well below average. The infield though is obviously also not an issue. The Yankees need to invest in starting pitching.

  5. bill says:

    Coaches vote for Gold Glove and Jeter got it, don't think he's the best but still I'll take him. His hitting was off but came around last month.

    Suzuki, Tori Hunter, Hamilton, Crawford, Vern(?Toronto), Alex Gonzalez, maybe even Damon & Matzui and there are others better than our guys. Plus the national league.

    Don't know what fWARs are but stats can be used many ways.

    Haven't checked but Swisher in playoffs '09 &'10 was pretty bad. He had 1 key home run but other wise weak. Not Winfield like but weak.

    Crawford bats 300, led league in SBs several times and an excellent fielder. Which Yankee outfielder is as good?

  6. bill boylan says:

    Regarding pitching. I think the Yanks should start building a pitching staff like the Giants and Rangers. Now that George is gone, perhaps we can keep some young arms around for a while.

    Constantly just buying the top guy available works some times but didn't with Randy Johnson or Brown, Pavano and others.

    Rivera figures he has about 2 years left. Maybe our staff will fill his shoes, maybe not. Pettite questionable for 2011. Hope he comes back.

    Think we'll also need a catcher soon, Jorge slowing down.

    Bye for now. Just found the site, Love It!

    bb

  7. Paul says:

    As a Sox fan living here in Tampa I have had the opportunity to watch Crawford for for several years now and he is an all around great player. It does create some interesting situations in the outfield but we will be okay. He can easily translate to 6 more wins on his own, which would have meant the playoffs last year. The key for the Sox will be the next few weeks and what they can do with the pitching.

  8. bill boylan says:

    Sox losing Beltrae & Martinez so Crawford & Gonzo will help them tread water at best. Big thing is Rays will be hurting w/o Crawford.

    Don't understand Sox strategy. If they kept those guys they'd be a lot tougher.