My favorite rumor-maven is at again, with a new piece in SI detailing the Yanks desire to have Carl Crawford patrolling Left Field in Yankee Stadium when he becomes a free agent after this season. He writes:

Still, as one competing executive says, “The Yankees absolutely love Crawford.”

And what the Yankees love, they usually get.


Realistically, the Rays’ best hope might be for the Yankees to concentrate on someone else. But that isn’t very likely. The Yankees determined that they wanted to avoid a two-year deal for Johnny Damon in part because they like Crawford so much. And they will have to like their chances to get him.

The Yankees do like the Phillies’ Jayson Werth, who’s also going to be a free agent at year’s end. Werth has more power, bats right-handed and is proven in right field, the tougher position to fill. But the Yankees still like Crawford better. Part of that comes from seeing him compete in the AL East, and most of it comes from seeing him thrive in the AL East. He’s averaging .297 and 50 stolen bases over his eight-year career.

Frankly, I’m not buying it. I’m sure there are Yankee execs who love Carl, but unless they’re named Brian Cashman it doesn’t mean much. If I’m the Yankee GM and have a choice between Carl Crawford and Jason Werth for a similar deal in terms of length, I’m taking Werth, even if he gets a higher AAV. More pop, better arm, better OBP, better fielder. Just more toolsy than Carl in every area of the game except for speed.

Carl’s value is tied up in his speed, he turns 30 the 1st year you sign him and his OBP has only been above .350 for 2 seasons in an 8-year career. In terms of power, he’s below average by most measures. I just don’t love him going forward, I don’t see any upside potential, and see real possibility of decline. He’s one leg injury away from being a mediocre player.  There are some questions about Werth’s knees, but nothing I’ve seen would be enough to make me pass on a player of his talent.

Don’t get me wrong, Carl’s a really good player. But I prefer the flexibility of signing Werth for Right Field, moving Swisher to Left and letting Nick’s contract expire after 2011. I could bring Nick back on a shorter deal, or target someone else. I generally don’t like signing Left Fielders unless I have to. I like leaving LF open as much as possible for future considerations. You can move aging/declining players there, since it’s the least demanding OF position. By having LF open after 2011, you can target a Right Fielder or Center Fielder as a Free Agent or in a trade, and move Curtis Granderson or Werth to Left if needed. But if you sign Crawford, you’re locked in at the other two spots. Also, Left would be open for Jeter or Alex if need be, both of whom will be in their late 30’s in 2012. Loads of flexibility, which is something I know Brian Cashman values.

We’ve become accustomed to having a regular LF in recent years, but that wasn’t always the case. During the Championship run of the late-90’s, the Yanks trotted out Gerald Williams, Tim Raines, Chad Curtis, Ricky LeDee, and Chuck Knobloch as their Opening Day Left Fielders from 1996-2001. We really didn’t have a player locked in at Left until Hideki Matsui (who George signed) arrived in 2003. Johnny Damon wasn’t signed to play in Left, he was supposed to be our CF, and Damon is a good example of why you value flexibility. If Carl Crawford was locked into LF over the past few seasons, you would have either be stuck with Damon as a defensive liability in Center or forced to make him your DH, a spot already occupied by other aging, injured players like Matsui and Giambi. To quote Mo, The Plan In Left Field Is….No Plan At All? My answer is yes.

12 Responses to “Heyman-Crawford Yanks #1 target for 2011”

  1. Before I say this let me preface by saying that I’ve been cautioning for months, since back when everyone and their mother just assumed the Yankees would target Crawford in 2011 and that he’d be the perfect choice, that his contract demands and skill set might not be as attractive as people thought.

    With that out of the way, you’re overvaluing Werth and undervaluing Crawford. At every turn in your analysis you seem to want to look at the worst case scenario for Crawford while whitewashing Werth’s weak-spots. Crawford turns 30 during the 2011 season? Werth turns 32 2.5 months before Crawford turns 30. Crawford is one leg injury away from being a mediocre player? Well, first of all, you can say that about literally any player. I understand (and have been pushing the point for months) that Crawford’s value is substantially tied up in his speed, but you can’t say “if he gets injured he’ll be less valuable” without acknowledging that the same thing is true of Werth… And Werth has the worse health-history between the two of them, to boot. And as far as your point about how bad it would have been if the Yanks had had Crawford in LF when Damon declined in CF… First of all, that’s a totally moot point, since that’s not what happened nor is it what would happen moving forward, since Damon is gone. And even if you want to engage on that point… Crawford just would have moved to CF while Damon moved to LF. It’s not nearly as black-and-white as you’re making it out to be. If you want to play that game… What would have happened had you had Swisher and Werth in the OF last season, along with Damon? Same problem and maybe even a worse problem, no? Whatever… It’s a moot point, either way, but even if you look past the irrelevance of the point and actually think about it, I don’t think it’s too persuasive a reason to prefer Werth over Crawford.

    Like I said above… I think there are a lot of things to be wary of when considering Crawford for 2011 and beyond, but all of those concerns are largely contingent on what kind of contract, in terms of years and dollars, he winds up commanding. And I certainly think there is a case to be made for Werth over Crawford – I think you make an interesting point about positional flexibility, although I’m not sure that argument necessarily works for Werth over Crawford… But still, it’s an interesting point and one that deserves further analysis, nonetheless. I’m not sure if I agree or not (and by that I don’t intend to imply I don’t, I really just mean I haven’t considered it enough), but there’s certainly a case to be made. But you go too far in your campaigning here, which makes it feel more like you’re trying to fit the evidence into your preconceived notion and build a case instead of evaluating the available evidence, whether it cuts for or against your argument, and determining the most reasonable position.  (Quote)

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    classicsteve Reply:

    Agree with virtually everything written in the above post and would like to add a few thoughts of my own:

    1- Werth benefits enormously from the relatively short dimensions in straight left at Citizens, an advantage he wouldn’t have at YS III. He also led the majors by a wide margin in 2009 in homers that barely cleared the fence in 2009- 10 feet or fewer- a feat he is unlikely to replicate , thereby further distorting his true HR power. By contrast, it is quite likely that Crawford”s HR total would spike in YS III due to the short porch. ( Johnny Damon II?)

    2-Crawford is a superior left fielder, having been at or near the top in advanced defensive metrics for a number of years. Though admittedly he does not have the arm of Werth, he would be an above average to superior centerfielder should that need arise.

    3- Concern about age taking away Crawford’s asset as a baserunner is misplaced. Not only is he one of the superior athletes in the majors having been offered scholarships to play football at Nebraska and basketball at UCLA, it must be noted that when Lou Brock advanced the single season stolen base record to 118 he did so at the age of 35.

    4- There were indications last year that Crawford was developing a better handle on the strike zone as evidenced by his BB total.

    5- It is likely that he would be energized to play in front of sellout crowds every night at YS III after having labored for many years in anonymity in Tampa.

    For the above reasons and due to the respective ages and injury histories of the players involved , I believe Carl Crawford would be a superior choice to Jayson Werth should the Yankees choose to invest in a free agent outfielder in 2011  (Quote)

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  2. Werth is 2 years older than CC, has half the career at bats w/ the same # of strike outs. Can you imagine the # of Ks with Swisher, Granderson and Werth patrolling the outfield? If they hit 5,6,7, you could go a whole inning without contact.
    I still don’t buy the loss of speed argument. Henderson, Ichiro, and Brock were all nightmares on the bases in their early to mid 30s. I can understand not wanting CC but I can’t understand the willingness to pay for Werth who has only 2 successful MLB seasons under his belt.
    The flexibility argument makes sense IF you can wrestle the captain off the infield dirt. A-rod in LF won’t work w/ his inability to catch a ball that isn’t bouncing.  (Quote)

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    smurfy Reply:

    I haven’t noticed. Both liners and popups? Maybe his hip injury accounts for slow breaks, he’d have more time in left, reaction time is key to third, for sure.  (Quote)

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  3. It’s Cliff Lee and no one else for 2011. That outfield spot has to be open for Jeter or A-rod. The Yankees have prospects in the Minors that can probably do a decent job at the other outfield spot. Plus the hitting will come once Jesus gets called up. The Yankees can re-sign NJ if he does well. Where the need for a 2nd place hitter isn’t needed.

    Plus the money that Crawford would want would more than likely exceed his true value. So pass on that and resign Jeter, Rivera, resign either Andy or Javy and get Cliff Lee.

    CC, Lee, AJ, Javy/Andy and Joba/Hughes is a Championship rotation  (Quote)

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    rooster Reply:

    How can you say only Cliff Lee? He was abused last year and is already hurt to start this season. He threw 273 innings in 39 starts. The Phillies traded him because of last years work load.  (Quote)

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    smurfy Reply:

    He sure didn’t look abused in the WS, but I take note.  (Quote)

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  4. Werth will be 32 in May 2012 (omg, I wrote that Year), post steroid era he would really only be able to play RF at a high level for at best 4 years. Would he take a four year contract? I agree that LF would almost have to be played by Jeter/A-Rod in 2-3 years. Writing all this and I still think that Crawford would patrol LF better than anyone since, well, better than Ricky Henderson….  (Quote)

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  5. the crawford thing is a typical smokescreen..the next left fielder will be granderson….just you watch!  (Quote)

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  6. Have some of you lost your mind??? Arod in LF? He can barely catch pop ups in the infield and you would think of putting him in the OF. Jeter sure Arod no way. And as for the original topic I would take crawford.  (Quote)

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    bornwithpinstripes Reply:

    Alex you are correct …between damon and arod.. if a scout seen them just catching flies in the outfield.. or shall i say trying to catch flies.. he would have grabbed a dirty water and not even stayed for the hitting..  (Quote)

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  7. Ideally, i’d like the front-office to pass on both Crawford and Werth, and simply fill the position from within. However, that’s not realistic given that our best OF prospects are in Low-A (Kelvin DeLeon) or below (JR Murphy and Slade Heathcott).

    Of the two, I think i’d rather have Crawford. The man will likely command a smaller AAS than Werth, so there’s less chance of over-paying. I think Crawford is athletic enough to make the move to play RF in the new YS. He’ll also be able to take some advantage as a lefty, and we could see a tick in overall OPS. Any how, a 4 year deal to fill the RF platoon should be more than enough time to develop a successor for RF itself and/or LF.  (Quote)

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