It seems crazy to suggest that the Werth signing was better than the Crawford signing but, as reader Jack Marshall pointed out to me over the weekend, Tom Boswell of the Washington Post does:
With the $142 million deal they gave to Carl Crawford, who has spent nine seasons proving that Fenway Park damages every part of his game, the Boston Red Sox just made the Washington Nationalslook smart. Or, at least, the Nats now look a lot less dumb for giving Jayson Werth $126 million … in lopsided Fenway Park, which works against all his tendencies as a hitter, Crawford has only hit one home run every 85 at-bats. In 338 career plate appearances in Fenway, a large sample over many years, he has an ugly .275/.301/.406 line.
There’s a name for speedy, weak-armed left fielders with those numbers. They’re called AAAA players.
Crawford’s line in Fenway Park is weighed down pretty heavily by his first three years in the league when he couldn’t do a damn thing there. He was up and down in Fenway between 2005 and 2008. In 2009 he posted a line of .342/.350/.500 in Fenway. In 2010 it was .324/.350/.432. Shocker: as Crawford has become a better hitter, he has become a better hitter in Fenway. And all of that, we must remember, comes against what have been very good Red Sox’ pitching staffs. I don’t think he’ll have a problem there.
Boswell also notes that Crawford’s defense is not suited to Fenway Park in that he has great range which will be wasted in that small left field. Probably worth noting that the Red Sox play 81 games on the road. Probably also worth noting that range goes side to side and not just forward and backwards. Again, this seems like a nit that Boswell is picking here.
Carl Crawford is a better all-around player than Jayson Werth. He’s younger. The Red Sox have more money to spend than the Nats. The Red Sox, unlike the Nats, are capable of challenging for the pennant in the short term, thereby justifying a deal that is more likely to pay dividends in the short, rather than the long term. I mean, yes, Crawford’s deal is long and expensive and may turn out to be bad, but I can’t see any way that it’s worse than Werth’s, and nothing Boswell writes here changes my mind about that.
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.
In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.
The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.
Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”
Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.
MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.