As I wrote last week, Carl Crawford was a major disappointment in his first year (2011) with Boston after signing a $142-million, seven-year contract. He batted .255 with 11 home runs and 56 RBIs, and had only 18 steals after swiping 107 bases combined in the previous two seasons with Tampa Bay. He ended up missing most of the 2012 season while recovering from left wrist surgery and Tommy John surgery at the end of the season. He will be 32 next year and is still owed a boatload of money. He has a career .292 Batting average and a .332 OB%. He has struck out 99 or more times five times in his career, including 104 each of his last two full seasons. That’s not what you want in a leadoff hitter.
His wheels have gotten him a lot of hits, and history shows that most speedsters lose a little in their 30′s. Barry Bonds declined every year in base-stealing once he turned 32 (although it would be interesting to find out when he bulked up). Rickey Henderson and Willie Magee did the same. Matt Kemp had hamstring problems last season. His physique is not unlike Crawfords and I would never expect Kemp to put up the kind of stolen-base totals he did earlier in his career. Stolen bases are great, but sometimes overrated. A healthy Crawford could wreak havoc on the basepaths. H-E-A-L-T-H-Y!
I fully expect to see him in LF on Opening Day. The other problem is his chronic troublesome left wrist which is allegedly devoid of cartilage. He will have to play through some pain or rest. I would love to see a Carl Crawford who hits .320 with 50 stolen bases, but I think it’s more likely that he will hit .270 with a .320 OB% and less than 30 SB’s. That ain’t bad, but it’s not what you want in a leadoff hitter.
For the record, being against Carl Crawford is not something new to me. On December 21, 2010, I wrote this:
Many people said that the Dodgers should have went after Carl Crawford. I totally disagree. Does it make sense to give a guy who has an OB% 10 points lower than Juan Pierre a $147 mil contract? Please….. I predict that the Red Sox will rue the day they did that. Can you say JD Drew?
Up until now, I have been absolutely right about Crawford, so don’t throw out that “You don’t know what you are talking about” crap! So far, I did! Hopefully, Carl will prove me wrong – God I hope he does – but he hasn’t in the first two years of the deal. If you expect big things from Carl Crawford, you are likely to be disappointed. That’s the long and short of it. Is he better than Tony Gwynn, Jr. or Jerry Hairston, Jr.? Well Duhhhhh….
The Dodgers gave up a lot to get Crawford and then they have to pay a lot. I remain skeptical, but boy will I root for him! If I am wrong, this will be the sweetest crow I have ever tasted!
Ideally, Hanley Ramirez will buy into playing 3B – that doesn’t seem likely, but maybe someone can convince him to do it. Currently, the Dodgers offensive weak link is in RF against LH pitching and 2B against RH pitching. The Dodgers need a platoon partner with Ellis at 2B and I don’t think Nick Punto is the answer. Ellis is an awesome 2B defensively and maybe they could live with him hitting 8th.
RF remains the problem as the Dodgers are paying Andre Ethier a lot of money not to hit lefthanders. It also remains unlikely that Andre will suddenly do that during my lifetime. In LA, Andre is becoming a platoon player. Do the Dodgers keep him or trade him?
There are questions on offense, starting with Adrian Gonzalez. I feel much better about him after reading Dylan Hernandez’s article in The LA Times today. I think Adrian will be a huge asset for years to come and provide excellence at 1B offensively and defensively.
Other questions are about Hanley Ramirez who is an amazing talent, but suffers from the malady that Matt Kemp once suffered from: “Head up my buttism.“ The Dodgers have to either hypnotize Hanley into loving 3B or leave him at SS. Here’s the deal: Hanley Ramirez could be the Dodgers IDEAL #1 hitter. He is capable of hitting .342 with a .400+ OB% and he can steal 60 bases. He still young and is slim and not bulky like Kemp and Crawford.
Based upon the current roster, here is the lineup I favor:
- Ramirez 3B
- Gordon/Cruz SS
- Kemp CF
- Gonzalez 1B
- Ethier RF
- Crawford LF
- Ellis C
- Ellis 2B
Ethier has value, but not as much as some might think. Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig could both factor into the Dodgers plans next season. Maybe patience is a virtue. Will Hanley be convinced? I doubt it…