Showing posts with label Carl Crawford. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carl Crawford. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why I Do Not Worry About Carl Crawford

Go to your favorite fantasy baseball site (assuming it is not this one) and see what they have to say about former fantasy stud, Carl Crawford. Chances are they suggest that Crawford can probably rebound from his poor first season with the Red Sox but they preach caution due to the wrist injury. That kind of blurb makes a lot of sense. I am not very concerned with Crawford's wrist, but first a look at last season.

What Went Wrong

The most mentioned aspect of Crawford's 2011 season was probably his lousy start. It truly was abysmal. For March and April of the 2011 season Crawford had a wRC+ of 10. That's not just bad, that is like he was not even standing at the plate when they called him out. His career wRC+ is 110, which is slightly above average. For reference purposes, Albert Pujols has a career wRC+ of 167 and Yuniesky Betancourt's career number is 78.

The rest of the season looks pretty normal - May 114, June 102, July 69, August 111, and September/October (when the entire Red Sox lineup went into a slump) he was at 91. Take out April and a lousy injury-plagued July (only 48 at-bats) and he is pretty close to his career numbers. The funny thing about that is I was expecting a career season from Crawford in 2011.

Heading to the offensive environment of Fenway Park from the run suppressing Tropicana Field should have been a net gain for Crawford. Fenway does reduce lefty homeruns (by almost 20 percent the last three seasons) but pretty much boosts everything else. And Crawford was better at Fenway than on the road, a 92 wRC+ at home and a 76 on the road.

Carl Crawford was never a great hitter against left-handed pitchers and during the 2011 season he was worse than ever - 48 wRC+ versus a career 82 against lefties (career 113 against right-handers). Having a more typical year against lefties would bring his numbers almost right back where they should have been.

The Injuries

On June 17 of the 2011 season Crawford left the game with a strained hamstring. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list despite the injury being designated a type-one strain, the least severe. I felt at the time that the Red Sox were using the injury as an excuse to give Crawford a little break from his woeful season. I still believe that to some extent, but he did miss an entire month and that suggests the injury was more severe than was reported. This might have contributed to his low stolen base total. In September he missed a couple of games with neck soreness but this truly was minor.

In January when it was reported that Crawford would require surgery on his wrist Red Sox GM Ben Cherington told the Boston Globe that Crawford had experienced discomfort in the wrist during the 2011 season. This had not been previously reported, Cherington elaborated that Crawford sometimes had the same discomfort while with the Tampa Bay Rays. The surgery, which Cherington called “relatively routine,’’ was performed in Arizona by Dr. Donald Sheridan, who also operated on Crawford’s right hand in 2008. He was expected to be ready close to Opening Day.

Crawford seemed ahead of schedule at the start of Spring Training but suffered a set back when the wrist was hit during bunting drills. He may miss the first couple of weeks of the regular season but is expected to be 100 percent healthy at that point barring any further set backs.

Why I Do Not Worry About the Wrist

The wrists are important to a hitter, especially when it comes to hitting for power. Crawford is not a slap hitter but it would be wrong to call him a power hitter. Plenty of power hitters have had wrist surgery and returned to hitting as before. What usually happens is the power doesn't return as quite as fast, but it does come back. You would not draft Crawford for his power except as relative to the Michael Bourns and Brett Gardners of the player pool, especially as a lefty in Fenway Park.

By all the reports I could find this was relatively simple, routine surgery. It was initially expected he could be a participant in Spring Training games and be ready for Opening Day. He also apparently played through the wrist discomfort for years before he needed to do something about it. This suggests to me that the problem was very small and has been fixed. The rest is just getting it strong again.

The Subjective Conclusions

Most Red Sox analysts have come to the conclusion that Crawford after signing his record contract put too much pressure on himself to live up to it. That is probably at least a small part of what happened. I believe that the egg in this situation was just bad BABIP variance. Once he was already off to the bad start he may have put too much pressure on himself to snap out of it. That pressure was not necessarily a bad thing as it seemed to have rebounded his game in May. Then the injuries hit and sucked away what momentum towards a rebound he had built.

You know that saying "If it were not for bad luck, I would have no luck at all"? Carl Crawford lived that during the 2011 season. Crawford could not seem to draw an ounce of good fortune the entire season. The bad start, the pressure of the contract, the injuries and finally the team collapse all led to a career worse season for Crawford. Simple regression to his career numbers would be enough. If the universe is fair (yeah, it probably is not) Crawford will have some good luck in 2012. I'm sure Crawford would gladly accept no luck at all.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Hot Stove: The Red Sox Sign Carl Crawford

You may have tricked yourself into thinking that after acquiring and signing Adrian Gonzalez that the Red Sox had made their major move of the Winter. You would have been wrong. You're wrong because the Boston Red Sox signed Carl Crawford last night to a seven-year, $142 million deal. I know it messed up the Hot Stove Update I was writing last night.

Crawford makes the Red Sox lineup as tough as any lineup in the game. He is such a versatile player he can hit anywhere from first to fifth in the lineup and be a major asset. The most likely scenario has him batting first or second, and since he has been a reluctant leadoff hitter in the past I'm guessing he will bat second behind either Dustin Pedroia or Jacoby Ellsbury. Either way, every batter in the Boston lineup should get a boost to their personal stats.

Carl Crawford is a supreme athlete and one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. He does not walk a ton (career 5.4 percent walk rate) but has improved over the last three seasons (6.9 percent three-year average). Crawford is a groundball hitter averging just a 30.8 percent flyball rate. However, he can hit mistakes a long way. He has the power to hit 20 homers but is usually in mid-teens in homeruns. While Crawford swings at a few more pitches out of the strike zone than average, he also makes better than average contact. He is easily one of the best basestealers in the game and is a cinch to steal 40-plus bases if the Red Sox allow it. I think they will.

Carl Crawford is an easy first round pick in most fantasy leagues and should only benefit by moving into Fenway Park. The contract may be a bit extreme, but as I stated in the Hot Stove Update I now have to re-write, just because a contract is for a lot of money and takes a player into his 30's does not make it a bad or even an undesirable contract.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Hot Stove Update: The Dodgers Making Moves

Things are getting interesting around the ol' Hot Stove.

The Red Sox are Hot 'n Heavy for Carl Crawford.
This surprises me a little because I figured with Jacoby Ellsbury coming back they would be more interested in a power hitter. But only a little, Crawford is easily the best position player available and the Red Sox are one of the teams that have mounds of available cash and an outfield opening. Who plays center field? Ellsbury, I guess...

The Yankees and Derek Jeter are looking at each other funny. The Yankees are suddenly acting like cheapskates when it comes to the Captain. He deserves every penny he's asking for for being one of the few superstar players that did not let us down during the steroid era. He had a down 2010 season but he isn't done just yet. The Yankees may want to phase Jeter away from shortstop, and that's understandable, but they should not force Jeter to play for the Baltimore Orioles. The popularity hit they would take is a lot bigger than they seem to think.

Someone is flooding the internet with rumors of Zack Greinke and the Yankees being a better match than most have speculated. Greinke has suffered from anxiety and bouts of depression. Most think that the pressure of New York would be too much for him. I submit that the man was depressed playing for the Kansas City Royals, who wouldn't be? The Yankees are about as far from the Royals as an organization as you can get. Plus, the Yankees clubhouse is very protective of their younger players and Greinke would get a ton of support. That said, I still don't buy him coming to New York.

What is Adrian Beltre looking for? He turned down $64 million from the Athletics. For certain, the Athletics are not the ideal team for Beltre but other than re-signing with the Red Sox (still a possibility) teams like the Angels and Orioles seem like bad fits as well. The Rangers would be nice but are they really looking to add an expensive third baseman with Michael Young on the roster?

The Giants are hoping they don't need to shop for a third baseman. Pablo Sandoval in an effort to re-gain the starting position he lost in the playoffs has begun a rigorous off-season program to lose weight and get in better shape. He has hooked up with Triple Threat Performance, the experts that are famous for working with major leaguers like Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield. Hey! No steroid jokes about Kung-Fu Panda.

Major Free Agent Signings

The Los Angeles Dodgers signed free agent infielder Juan Uribe.

The strangest thing about this signing is the report that Juan Uribe turned down essentially the same three-year, $21 million offer to stay with the World Series Champion, San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers plan to start Uribe at second base and to emphasize that plan they traded away infielder Ryan Theriot. It is not official yet, the Giants wasted no time signing Miguel Tejada to a one-year contract to be their starting shortstop in 2011. However, the Giants are supposedly still interested in acquiring Tampa Bay shortstop Jason Bartlett.

Uribe posted a career high walk rate and hit a career high 24 homers in 575 at-bats. Uribe has nice power for a shortstop. Although his BABIP was very low at .256 (career .282) fantasy owners should not expect much of a rebound in batting average. Uribe has a swing at everything approach that doesn't jive with his mediocre contact rates. He should continue to provide pretty much the same stats as a Dodger. Dodger Stadium is slightly better for homeruns but suppresses scoring at a rate similar to AT&T Park.

I find it interesting that the Dodgers have been fairly aggressive to start the off season. I guess I assumed that the divorce would be an impediment to progress. The Dodgers are one of the teams I want to root for to do well. Unfortunately they have lousy ownership and a GM in Ned Colletti that hasn't convinced me he knows what he's doing so far. So far so good for 2011.

Texas Rangers signed Japanese free agent right-hander, Yoshinori Tateyam.

The Rangers have signed Yoshinori Tateyam to a split contract that means he will be paid differently depending on whether or not he makes the major league club. Tateyam features a fastball that sits around 90 mph, a screwball that he features against left-handed batters and excellent control. He apparently has a very deceptive delivery that should at least make him effective the first time around the American League, assuming he makes the team. He isn't a threat to steal the closer job at this point so his fantasy value should be minimal.

The Trades

The Los Angeles Dodgers traded middle infielder Ryan Theriot to the St. Louis Cardinals for right-handed reliever, Blake Hawksworth.

The 2010 season was not a good one for Ryan Theriot. He pretty much had his worst season as a professional. He will play the 2011 season at age 31, so it isn't too hard to envision a bounce-back season. The Cardinals are apparently planning to move him back to shortstop, where Theriot claims he is more comfortable. What that means for the light-hitting Brendan Ryan is still a question to be answered.

Theriot usually provides a decent on-base percentage. His walk rate has been all over the place but his career 8.4 percent walk rate is probably about right for projecting. He has a good eye at the plate and a strong contact rate complemented by his above average speed on the bases. If his BABIP once again approaches his career level, Theriot should be able to hit for a batting average in the .275-.285 level and steal at least 20 bases. As a shortstop he has more fantasy value than some might expect.

Blake Hawksworth is a typical right-handed reliever. He had a very unfortunate 2010 season, but has the potential to be a solid middle reliever. His fantasy value should be minimal.

Other Significant Transactions

Texas Rangers signed free agent C Yorvit Torrealba.

Atlanta Braves signed free agent C Wilkin Castillo.

Pittsburgh Pirates outrighted Andy LaRoche to Indianapolis Indians.

LF Wilkin Ramirez assigned to Atlanta Braves.

St. Louis Cardinals signed free agent LHP Brian Tallet.

Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent RHP Fernando Nieve.

Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent 3B Andy Marte.

Pittsburgh Pirates signed free agent C Dusty Brown.