Categorized | Mark Timmons

Just Wait Until Next Year…

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:

  1. Ramirez  3B
  2. Gordon/Cruz  SS
  3. Kemp  CF
  4. Gonzalez  1B
  5. Ethier  RF
  6. Crawford  LF
  7. Ellis  C
  8. 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…

About Mark Timmons

When you see the invisible, you can do the impossible!

22 Responses to “Just Wait Until Next Year…”

  1. Badger says:

    You have made it clear what you think of Crawford, and I get it…. you don’t think much of him. I believe most of us have stated what we expect out of Crawford and it isn’t really “big things”. We all realize he is WAY overpaid, but the Dodgers don’t seem to care. What they care about is a guy who can get out there, play solid defense and make the top of the lineup better. You have him batting 6th? No way. He will hit second. His OBP was actually pretty good until he started playing injured. Maybe he will get it back to around .350. I say Gordon will make the team and bat lead-off. Ellis, who had a good year, not a great year but a good year, will be 36 and could make a great back-up utility guy. So will Punto, Castellanos and of course, there is that Uribe fellow. Might be some movement around that issue.

    The lineup I favor:

    Gordon 2B
    Crawford LF
    Kemp CF
    Gonzalez 1B
    Ramirez SS
    Ethier RF
    Cruz 3B
    Ellis C

    I hope Dee Gordon plays a lot of winter ball and comes to ST ready to go after his sophomore year. Don’t forget, he only has 525 plate appearances. He is going to be 25 so he isn’t a kid anymore. He will be better.

    Looks like it may not matter that Ethier struggles against LH pitching. He numbers are .284, .350 with an .812 OPS. That will do. Sure, he is overpaid too, but it’s time we just accept many Dodgers will be and the Guggendiesel driving this hippodrome Hummer just don’t care about that. It’s about scoring runs and keeping teams from scoring runs. I like what they have done so far. Sounds like Mark doesn’t. We’ll just see how it turns out.

    One more thing….. damn Yankees.

  2. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Agree with Badger. I’m hoping that part of Gordon’s education this winter will include work on his bunting, and selectivity at the plate. He just needs to get on base. If anyone on this team steals a lot of bases it will be him. Crawford I see stealing less, and just using his speed on defense and to take extra bases. And Crawford should benefit from being surrounded by stars like Kemp, Gonzalez, Hanley, and even Ethier.

    Ethier’s problems against lefthanders baffles me. If memory serves, he actually hit them very well his first couple of years with the Dodgers. If he can find what he was doing then, it’s possible he might actually hit lefthanders in Mark’s lifetime. Personally, I think Ethier just has to concentrate on going up the middle and to LF against southpaws. It’s in him, he just has to find it.

    Yes, “…damn Yankees”. But also good to see the midgets lose again.

  3. Mark_Timmons says:

    Badger,

    Here\’s Crawfords\’ stats:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/crawf

    Out of 11 seasons, he has had s seasons with an OB% over .350.

    No way he is as fast at 32 as he was at 23-29.

    Logic suggests that his OB% won\’t be as high as it once was because he used to get lots of leg hits.

    I would love to see Gordon lead-off, but don\’t know if you want 2 lefties back-to-back in the 1,2 spots.

    Gordon is capable – I still don\’t see him at 2B. I\’ll watch where he plays this winter.

  4. Badger says:

    Mark…. thanks for posting Crawford’s stats. I have been studying them, articles, pictures, histories, whatever I can read about him for the last several weeks. Believe me, I know what he has already done. If you notice, from 2006 to 2010 he was at .348 or over 4 times. I said “around .350″. I would of course take anything .333 or over. Same with Gordon really. Both of those guys know that if they can get on base for the middle of that order, this team will score. Crawford scored over 100 twice with an OBP of .331. And something else, I KNOW that you know base running and base stealing is not just about speed. Rickey Henderson stole 66 and scored over 100 runs when he was 39. He even stole another 100 after he turned 40. Running the bases is as much about being smart as it is about speed. And, Crawford is not 32 yet. He won’t be until next August.

    I get the two lefties point, but I don’t think it matters all that much. Only 26.7% of pitchers in the ML are left handed, so they will be looking at right handed pitching a far majority of the time. What you want up there are guys that can get on base and take the pitchers attention away from the strike zone. I think with either Gordon, or Crawford (or both) on base, the pitcher’s mind might be just a bit distracted. He doesn’t have to steal 60 again. Just take a base now and then….. 30+ would be nice.

    f the midgets. Sorry…. couldn’t help myself.

    Like I have mentioned, for two years in ST I watched Ethier work on taking pitches to left field and, in batting practice, he was very good at it. When I watch him now, he does not appear prepared to do that, especially with two strikes. Baffles me too Brooklyn. It seems like such a logical approach, from my recliner anyway. I have just come to accept that Ethier will hit .284 with a .350 OBP and an OPS around .800. I have always believed he could do better. He has the skill to win a batting title, but not if he continues to deal with left handed pitching the way he does.

    • Badger says:

      One more thing…. just to belabor the point…..Crawford…… since he became a regular, at age 21, if you don’t count the two years he was injured in Boston, his OBP averages out to .340.

      Would you take that?

  5. Bobby says:

    What I would like:

    Gordon SS
    Crawford
    Kemp
    A-Gone
    Hanley
    Ethier
    Cruz 2b
    AJ Ellis

    This of course predicated on Hanley becoming an actual team guy and realizing he’d be a good 3b for the next 5 yrs. This of course predicated on Gordon hitting more than .220 and not making a ton of errors. This of course predicated on Cruz being able to be a good 2b defensively.

    It’s gona be a fun offseason. Actually, with SF losing 2 games at home already, it’s already a good offseason! Now if Cincy can sweep them, I’d say the offseason started off with a bang for us!

    Great forum again Mark. I say it every now and then, but it’s nice to have bunch of guys present their arguments and disagree, but come with some good takes and reasons.

    Go Bears!!

  6. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    There could be lots of reasons a player’s speed will diminish. And that will happen to any player as he ages. However, if I remember correctly, Kenny Lofton was still pretty fast at 40, and so was Ricky. Even if Crawford has lost or will lose something, it doesn’t mean that his speed doesn’t remain a weapon. Because even as he ages, his speed is likely to remain good in comparison to most big leaguers. So, while his stolen base number may decline, it doesn’t mean he’s no longer a distracting presence on base, and that he can’t stretch a single into a double and a double into a triple, and that he doesn’t have that extra gear to go from first to third, or from first to home on a long double.

    The two lefthanded hitters at the top of the order can be a concern. But as Badger points out, the overwhelming majority of pitchers are righthanded. Also, there is no reason why the lineup can’t be juggled every now and again. For example, maybe Hanley could hit #2 on occasion. Furthermore, the more lefthanders Gordon and Crawford see (and Ethier too) the more likely they’ll make adjustments, and hit them better. And if Gordon can hone his bunting skills, I don’t think it will matter as much if the pitcher is right or lefthanded. And if Gordon were to end up in a platoon with Mark Ellis, the whole thing would be moot.

    A lot is going to happen between now and next year. At this stage I wouldn’t worry about the lineup. More than likely that issue will take care of itself. We don’t even know for now exactly who will be playing and where they will be playing. And no matter who is at the top of the order, if the guys behind them are hitting, they’re going to be seeing an awful lot of fastballs.

  7. Bobbie17 says:

    Brooklyn: In response to an earlier question, the closer in the minors is Steven Ames
    at AA. He has good numbers across the board. Paco Rodriguez also did some closing, and he was good with the big team this year. Maybe not a hard thrower, but he gets guys out.

  8. jerry says:

    since hanley cant get the ball out of his glove..i dont think third is a good spot for him..he need to be at second..where he has time to get the ball out.. so what do you think about that.

  9. ken says:

    I think that it might be easier to convince Hanley to move to 3B than to go back in time to reinvent himself as a batting champion. It would be a miracle if he did both in one season resulting in Ned earning GM of the year. I vote for changing his approach to hitting as his #1 priority.

    Why can’t the dodgers just hire Gonzo to be Ethier’s batting coach?

    Badger – Looks like I finally convince someone that Gordon should start at 2B next year, at least 73.3% of the time. :)
    Actually, I believe that Gordon is a much better athlete than Biggio and therefore should easily be able to make the transition to 2B. Biggio C = 428 games; OF = 363 games; 2B = 1,989 games. Anyone not happy with Gordon having a career as good as Biggio at 2B?

    Crawford’s 2012 stats converted to 155 games (Not Bad)

    AB 585
    R 115
    H 165
    2B 50
    3B 10
    HR 15
    RBI 95
    BB 15 OOPS!
    SO 110 OOPS!
    SB 25
    BA .282
    OB .306 Work on this
    SLG .479
    OPS .785

    Looks like with a new approach when he has 2 strikes will cause him to be an above average player, and at least an average LF.

    Carl Crawford still looks fat and even calls himself “Fat” on his Myspace picture :)
    http://www.myspace.com/carl.crawford#!

    1. Crawford – LF
    2. Rameriz – SS
    3. Gonzo – 1B
    4. Kemp – CF
    5. Ethier – RF
    6. Cruz – 3B
    7. Ellis – C
    8. Gordon/Ellis – 2B
    9. Pitcher

    Now go sign League

  10. Badger says:

    Carl Crawford still looks fat and even calls himself “Fat” on his Myspace picture :)

    Touche. You got me.

    I am ok with ken’s lineup, but I would so much rather have Crawford in the 2 hole. Why? That is where he has been most of his career, and his career numbers there are .302, .345 and .460.

  11. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=ames–001ste

    B17, no doubt that Steven Ames has good numbers. Yet although he will be 25 in March, and has been in the Dodgers system since 2009, he hasn’t advanced past AA. Of course, maybe the Dodgers just want to keep him out of ALBQ. But in looking back through Baseball America’s Prospect Handbooks for 2010, 2011 and 2012, I don’t see his name mentioned even once in the Dodgers’ top 30.

    So, while he may be a prospect, it’s pretty clear that he’s not considered among the elite. I believe I saw him pitch in spring training once or twice, and I don’t recall that he left any kind of lasting impression with me. Maybe he’s under-appreciated by the Dodgers talent evaluators, or perhaps he’s just a guy with good control, and not so great stuff, whose mastery against minor league hitters might not translate so well with big league hitters. At least it appears that’s what the Dodgers think. And maybe Ames will prove everyone wrong. But for now, I’d stick with Jansen, and hope that Ames might be able to work his way up to the Dodger bullpen. Given who’s already in that pen, I don’t think his chances look very promising.

  12. ken says:

    Not much happening, except behind the scenes, until November 1st -

    IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE WORLD SERIES
    Eligible players become free agents

    SIXTH DAY AFTER COMPLETION OF WORLD SERIES
    First day that Major League and Minor League free agents may sign contracts with teams other than their former clubs

    12TH DAY AFTER COMPLETION OF WORLD SERIES
    Midnight ET, last date for a player to accept arbitration from former club

    NOVEMBER 30, 2012
    Midnight ET, last date to tender contracts

    DECEMBER 3-6, 2012
    Baseball Winter Meetings, Nashville, Tenn.

    DECEMBER 6, 2012
    Rule 5 Draft, Nashville, Tenn.

    MARCH 7-10, 2013
    World Baseball Classic, First Round
    Pool D – Phoenix, Ariz. (Chase Field & Salt River at Indian Fields): United States, Mexico, Italy, Qualifier TBD

  13. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Here’s the link to what Ken just posted:

    http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/schedule/important_dates.j

    Looks like a rule change to me. I believe it used to be several days after World Series before players could declare free agency. And I think the period when free agents could begin signing with teams other than their former clubs was about 2 weeks, give or take. Of course, relying on my memory is in itself highly unreliable.

  14. Ken says:

    2013 Estimated Minimum Player’s Salaries – Not counting any players who are free agents

    33 Total = $200,000,000.00
    6 Deferred = $12,833,333.00
    1 Puig = $3,714,000.00
    1 Bills = $11,000,000.00
    25 Active = $172,452,667.00
    8 Pre-Arb = $4,000,000.00
    17 1% Vets = $168,452,667.00

    Will the dodgers go with as many as 8 pre-Arbitration eligble players?

    Jansen
    Belisario
    Guerra
    Elbert
    Fife
    Tolleson
    Federowicz
    Cruz

    Is there really enough money in the budget to improve this team? Ned better do whatever is legal to improve the existing players during the off season, just in case.

    • Badger says:

      Maybe it’s brain cloud from all the chemtrails around here, but I am having trouble interpreting that list Ken.

      Payroll is over $200MM. That’s all I know. Pre-arb players are a drop in that bucket and every one of those guys listed should be in shape and ready to go.

      And to answer your question – yes – apparently there is money in the budget to improve the team.

  15. Gionfriddo says:

    Once again, I’ll wait to comment further on the Crawford effect til we see what production he gives the Blue in ’13– remember, take the 142 million out of the equation because that is irrelevant when it comes to his #’s. Name one MLB player who has garnered a huge pay day who is worth and has lived up to his 50, 75, 100, 200 mill deal?? — the list will include…. that’s right, NO ONE will be on that list.

    Mark Ellis is our everyday 2B going into ’13 and that is not changing– rather than suggesting Gordon be moved to 2B, I would suggest to Ned & co. he be given an OF glove as well to become a super sub ala Chone Figgins when he was with the Halos– have Gordon work out this winter at 2b, 3B, and OF.. IF Crawford is out any time in April, have Gordon be the LF– when Ellis needs a break @ 2B, have Gordon fill in for him, same with Hanley @ SS… just a thought.

    Not going to bother putting down my preferred opening day lineup simply because I believe there are going to be some Dodger moves this hot stove season that are going to shock all of us– The Ramirez and BoSox deals were just appetizers for us– just my IMO.

    Finally, the list is LONG of MLB players who are or were better athletes than Craig Biggio– however, the list is very SHORT of guys who were better baseball players than Biggio.. 5th all time in doubles (668) and 15th all time in Runs (1,844)— let’s hope that young Dee can figure it out and a become better overall SS than Craig Reynolds at this point in time…

  16. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    “Not going to bother putting down my preferred opening day lineup simply because I believe there are going to be some Dodger moves this hot stove season that are going to shock all of us– The Ramirez and BoSox deals were just appetizers for us– just my IMO.”

    I could not agree more. And as for Gordon. He’ll likely spend the winter working on enhancing his on base skills. Bunting, strike zone judgment, keeping the ball out of the air, etc., etc., etc. If he can improve those skills, the Dodgers will do their best to get him adequate playing time, and give him a chance to work his way into the lineup. Ellis likely opens the season at 2B, and Cruz likely opens up at 3B. No guarantee that they end the season as the starters in those positions. After all, who would have predicted that we’d end 2012 with Gonzalez at 1B, Hanley at short, and Cruz at 3B?

    And Badger is correct. There apparently is money in the budget to improve the team. LOTS OF MONEY!!!!! This ownership spent over $2 billion because they see a goldmine ahead. They didn’t just buy a sports franchise. They’re likely looking at reaping huge benefits from media, sponsorship, and real estate assets that over time could be worth BILLIONS. And they apparently have the available cash to make it work long time. They are likely in the midst of planning a huge TV deal or the establishment of a lucrative regional network with English and Spanish stations, looking to build attendance to over 4 million per year, and to promote globs of revenue via growing sponsorship and merchandise sales. And, if recent reports are true, they’re also considering the purchase of AEG, which I imagine could be part of a plan to establish a sports conglomerate. It may well be, that in media revenue alone, they’ll exceed the $200,000,000 payroll.

    Juan Uribe? Really, what’s $8 million in the greater scheme of things? Unless Uribe is able to demonstrate that he can actually contribute, I think he’s as good as gone. But the Dodgers are likely to put off that decision as long as possible, full well knowing that they’re probably going to cut Uribe loose in the end.

  17. Brooklyn Dodger says:

    Above, I meant “make it work long term” not “long time”.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] Just Wait Until Next Year… 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 [...]… [...]

  2. [...] the box right along with him. View full post on Yahoo! Sports – MLB – more… Just Wait Until Next Year… – ladodgertalk.com 10/08/2012 As I wrote last week, Carl Crawford was a major disappointment [...]


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