I’ve been wanting to write this one for over a week now, but haven’t found the time. Here’s a quick take.
Crawford is Over-paid
First, I was waiting all fall to see who would overpay for Crawford. I did not think it would be the Red Sox. Crawford is an athletic talent–but there is no way a player with an OPS under .900 should cross the 15 million a year mark. Especially not a 29 year old player built on speed with questionable career plate discipline.
Go look at what an exceptional speedster like Tim Raines did after his 29th birthday compared to before: from 1982 to 1988 Raines hit .306 / .392 / .447 with 75 SB, 90 BB’s, and 285 TB per 162 games. From 1989 to 1995, Raines dropped to .284 / .378 / .406 with 42 SB, 92 BB’s, and 246 TB per 162 games. Cutting off his shortened first year, from 2003 to 2010 Crawford compiled a .299 / .340 / .448 line with 56 SB, 40 BB’s, and 293 TB per 162 games.
My point in showing these numbers is two-fold–first, obviously, I expect that Crawford’s production, predicated on speed, will diminish as he crosses 30. Second, to show that Tim Raines‘ production was amplified by something that Crawford has never displayed–plate discipline. Even in his last two “big money” seasons, Crawford has only totaled 97 walks, while striking out 203 times. During the second half of his career, Raines never walked fewer than 61 times (and the 61 was in a strike-shortened 101 game 1994 campaign). Furthermore, during the second half of his career Raines never struck out more than 68 times and averaged only 62 k’s per 162 games (thus far, Crawford averages 102 k’s/162).
And, oh, by the way, does anyone think that Tim Raines was ever worth 20 million a season? Because that’s what we just paid Crawford. I’m not sure if I think Tim Raines is a better player than Crawford–but one can legitimately raise the question. And the very fact that you can entertain the question suggests the Red Sox made a big mistake (it also, I believe, suggests that Jacoby Ellsbury‘s long-term tenure with the Sox is in question, since the two are such similar players–but that’s left for another day, another post).
I’m a pretty big fan of Baseball Evalution’s Stat Geek Baseball–and they valued Crawford similar to Shane Victorino, projecting a contract of 5 years and 60 million. Everyone knew that he would get more than statistical value, but the Sox nearly doubled their projection. Boo.
As a Red Sox fan, this is “kinda” a tough trade deadline.
The Yankees got better, but not that much better. Kearns is a quality reserve; his career .258/.353/.426 line pretty much screams replacement player. I’m glad to see them pick up Berkman, just because I think that tank is empty and that contract is large (though the Astros are flipping part of the bill). Its fun to watch the Yanks give up prospects and waste money. Wood is the big pick-up here, and the one that the Yanks got for nothing. If Woods underperforms, the Yanks can cut him. If he returns to last years form, then the Yanks grabbed a quality arm on the cheap for what figures to be a ridiculously tight August and September.
The Sox, on the other hand, were uncharacteristically quiet. Of course, the Sox expect most of their position players to return in the next couple weeks, so investing prospects for temporary replacements didn’t make sense. Yes, we acquired Saltimacchia. This would have been front-page news a few years ago. As my cousin Andy put it, The Paw Sox got a nice upgrade at catcher for their stretch run.
But we didn’t acquire the one thing we really needed: relief help. In fact, we gave up on one arm–Ramon Ramirez, acquired in the Crisp deal a few years back. This really surprised me–because although Ramirez has struggled a bit this year, he’s a proven guy. I believe I heard whispers that he wasn’t too happy with his role on the team, and this likely mandated a move. Because, while his stats aren’t quite as good as 2008 or 2009, they are still better than a lot of relief pitchers around the league.
While I am disappointed that we didn’t get a reliever, I’m also happy we aren’t the Twins. Minnesota gave up one of their best offensive prospects, catcher Wilson Ramos to rent Nationals closer Matt Capps. In 1519 career plate appearances, Ramos has a .283/.330/.426 minor league line. And he can catch well. Capps is a vanilla closer–he’s never topped 30 saves in a season, has a craptastic K/9 ratio, and an un-inspiring 3.47 ERA. Yahoo has a great post up with all the complaints of Twins fans for overpaying for Capps.
The Sox were supposedly in the bidding for Capps. And the whole situation stings my memory with a needle from 1990. Remember the ghost of Larry Anderson? The Red Sox traded a first base prospect with a career .321/.390/.436 minor league line to the Astros to rent a journeyman starter/reliever. Anderson pitched X innings and won Y games. That prospect, Jeff Bagwell, hit 449 home runs, drove in 1529 RBI, and retired with a .948 OPS. Oops.
So while we didn’t really get any help, we didn’t make a regrettable mistake. I generally like the Twins, so let’s hope they don’t regret this trade 20 years later.