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.