Maybe Carl Crawford is not destined to be a Yankee in 2011

Headline from the great Ken Rosenthal (4/9): “Is Crawford destined to wear pinstripes?”

If you asked me at the beginning of the season, the answer to that question would have been a resounding yes.

Just take a look at some of these articles from the beginning of the season:

Jon Heyman (3/22):

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

And what the Yankees love, they usually get.

Tom Verducci (3/19)

“Short term, I think you are looking at Carl Crawford. Both teams love the guy. They are waiting for this guy to come on the market and I don’t think there is anyway the Rays are going to keep him. That being said, I don’t know how he’s not a Yankee, because the Yankees tend to get what they want. Nobody is going to outbid them.”

Jon Paul Morosi (2/26)

“(The Yankees and Red Sox, naturally, were named by the group of executives and agents as the most likely destinations for Crawford in 2011.)”

Jon Heyman (2/26)

“One reason the Yankees were reluctant to go for a two-year deal for Johnny Damon might have had little to do with Damon and been a greater reflection of what they think of Carl Crawford. The Yankees love him. Crawford is almost sure to be too rich for the low-revenue Rays, and the Yankees jump to the head of the class for interested teams. Remember, too, that the Yankees passed on Matt Holliday. It all seems to set up nicely for Crawford.”

Ok, so we get it. The Yankees love Crawford. And as we all know, when the Yankees love a player, they almost always get him. Just ask CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, or AJ Burnett. The Yankees’ extensive resources combined with the allure of playing in pinstripes is just too good for most players to pass up on.

In addition, by showing restraint (yes, restraint!) last winter by NOT signing Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, or John Lackey; the Yankees prevented themselves from taking on yet another long term contract at a rate of $10-$15 million annually. This seemed to bode well for Crawford next winter.

And finally, the most compelling reason why Carl Crawford was destined to be a Yankee in 2011 was twofold: Randy Winn and Brett Gardner. Yes, these two were expected to split time in left field this season, thus holding down the fort until the Yankees could bring in Carl Crawford. At the beginning of the season, Winn was thought of as a player in decline, who could contribute to the Yankees in 2010 and not much after that. To date, Winn is batting .167 in only 18 at bats.

Why has Winn struggled to get playing time? Because of Brett Gardner. Just in case you weren’t aware, Gardner is hitting a ridiculous .346 this season with a staggering .427 OBP, 12 stolen bases, 21 runs scored, and a impressive 10 to 9 BB/K ratio. Sure it’s early, but those are some mighty impressive numbers from a guy who many thought was nothing more than a fourth outfielder. As long as he stays healthy and productive, there is every reason to think that Gardner can steal 50-60 bases this season while scoring over 100 runs.

Obviously the long term implications of Gardner’s hot start are yet to be determined. But if Gardner continues to hit and utilize his speed on the base-paths, then it’s possible that the Yankees already have a younger and much cheaper version of Carl Crawford. While Gardner has not shown Crawford’s power to date, he brings the same dynamics to the table that Crawford does, namely speed and athleticism.

Then again, Gardner’s hot start could be just that: a hot start. But his performance at the dish has to make us think-or at least reconsider-whether or not the Yankees will need to invest $90-$100 million in Carl Crawford this winter when they already have -gulp- Brett Gardner.

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  1. Matt said...

    Good, I was hoping it was safe to come out of the closet and just admit I am a Gardner fan.

    Low swing%, ridiculously high contact%, speed that can sustain a high-ish BABIP, a keen batting eye and a plus defender.

    Outside of zero power, what’s not to like?

    Reminds me of a Scott Podsednick type.

  2. Sean Smith said...

    Gardner has just enough power that you can’t always throw him meatballs.  That’s why he’s effective when guys like Jason Tyner and Reggie Willits are not.

    Hopefully the Yankees will not be interested, and Carl’s path to the Angels will be unobstructed.

  3. oldgeek said...

    I like Crawford but the Yankees do not need him. It’s too early in the season to run the numbers but right now I don’t see what the yankees get in terms of runs scored for wins. I would save the salary money and stay in the hunt for pitching, the Yankees defense is solid as is their offense.

  4. obsessivegiantscompulsive said...

    Giants have been rumored to be interested too.

    So hands off, Angels!  :^)

  5. Jonathan Sher said...

    Maybe I’m missing something, but I’m not sure why the Yankees couldn’t play both Garnder and Crawford, at least starting next year. Nick Johnson has a one year contract and is likely gone after this year. That opens up DH for Nick Swisher and LF for Crawford.

    It’s true most teams don’t have speed guys at both OF corners. But most team don’t have guys with pop in CF, catcher and second base, so the Yankees won’t starve for power.

    There would still be the question of how to juggle bodies the balance of this year, assuming Crawford is dealt before the trade deadline, but given Johnson’s fragility, that may work itself out too.

  6. RollingWave said...


    partly because

    a. both of them have noodle arms, not Damon like noodle but not that far behind either.

    b. While Swisher’s defense in RF leave something to be desired of, it is quiet clear that he’s not really close to being up on the list of guys that should DH for the Yankee, namely , their 38 (going on 39) year old catcher, their 35 going on 36 3B.

    It seems at this point that the Yankees DH 2011 would be Jorge Posada most of the time, in the perfect world they probably hope that Jesus Montero can improve his D enough (and hit in AAA) so he can split rotate with Jorge as the C/DH next year.

  7. Bryan said...

    Don’t forget the Yankees also have Juan Miranda who projects to be a 1B/DH type and is ready for the bigs.  Though, I am intrigued with the idea of a Crawford, Granderson, Gardner OF.  Imagine the speed and defensive capabilities out there.  WOW!

  8. RollingWave said...

    given the Yankee’s current configuration, while there is a chance that they need a LF, it seems like their order of task in the off season would be..

    1. resign Jeter and Rivera

    2. figure out what to do with 2 SP spots

    3. consider upgrading LF.

    I think 3 would be rather low on the list right now,  1 is fairly automatic but obviously needs to be addressed first due to the huge amount of money it’s going to involve, 2 is more tricky since it depends largely on how Pettite and Vasquez do this year and their personal decisions.

  9. Sean Mark said...

    RollingWave, you obviously have no idea what you are talking about as Crawford actually has a slightly above average arm and Gardner has one of the best arms in baseball (go read the past fangraphs article about him).

  10. delv said...

    it’s a little dishonest/misleading to say Gardner has a great “arm.”  He has great legs, which allow him to reach balls quickly, and which make his throws reach the infield quicker.

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