clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Carl Crawford Press Conference Reaction: Tampa Bay Will Overcome

Ugh ugh ugh. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Ugh ugh ugh. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Getty Images

My first reaction to the news that Carl Crawford was signing with the dreaded Boston Red Sox was one of surprise.  When I heard the dollar amount and length of the contact I was befuddled and wondered if maybe the bizzaro Theo Epstein had taken over the reins of the Red Sox front office. Does Carl Crawford deserve to be the highest paid outfielder of all time or be the recipient of the 9th largest contract in MLB history? The only way to describe the media coverage, both locally and nationally, of Crawford's signing is nauseating. The premise of most stories is that the Rays organization has taken a giant step backward because of the loss of Crawford and that the Red Sox have elevated their organization as the team to beat in the AL East. 

The simple truth of the matter is that both the Yankees and the Red Sox bring star power to their roster every winter, and every winter the national media anoints the American League (not just the East) as a two team race. In just the last two plus winters, players of the ilk of Nick Swisher, A.J. Burnett, C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez, and Adrian Beltre were added to the Red Sox and Yankee rosters. The Rays will never be the front runner to win the American League East when the ball drops in Time Squares ringing in the New Year, at least, according to the media.

This year, the Red Sox and Yankee acquisitions sting a lot more than usual because of the loss of Carl Crawford and many other key players on the 2010 squad. There will be an impact on the Rays organization due to the loss of Carl Crawford and there will be an impact on the Boston Red Sox as a result of the addition of Carl Crawford, but how much? Can Tampa Bay overcome the loss of Crawford? And will Boston be a much better team with the addition of Crawford? The answers aren't as black-and-white as you may think.

The Tampa Bay Effect

Can a team overcome the loss of a player like Carl Crawford? A player who brings the ability to get on base, the ability to drive the ball in the gap for extra bases as well as the ability to hit the ball out of the park, steal bases, and bring a gold glove caliber defense to the park with him? 

A comparable player to Carl Crawford would be Torii Hunter who left the Minnesota Twins after the 2007 season.  The Twins finished 2007 in 3rd place with a 79-83 record. Even with the loss of Torii Hunter to the LA Angels and the trading of their ace Johan Santana to the New York Mets, the Twins would go on to finish 2008 in 2nd place with a record of 88-75. 















Carl Crawford














Torii  Hunter














As can be seen by the table above, both Torii Hunter and Carl Crawford brought mutliple offensive skills to the table. Replacing the sum of the components with one player would be a very difficult task, but replacing the offensive production of a Torri Hunter or Carl Crawford is possible over multiple positons. I believe the Rays already have the players on the roster that can replace these components; Desmond Jennings can replace Crawford's defense and speed and a return to full health and productivity from Ben Zobrist could replace Crawford's power and extra base hits.

The Boston Effect

Nobody would suggest that  the Boston Red Sox will not benefit from having a talented outfielder, especially one who will only be turning 30 during the 2011 season and is in the prime of his career. The question I have to ask is what skills will Boston be taking advantage of in 2011 and beyond. Crawfords defensive prowess would certainly be diminished by playing left field in Fenway Park, although the Red Sox will benefit from Crawford's defense on the road.  WIll Terry Francona give Carl Crawford the same free rein on the basepaths as Joe Maddon did? Will Francona try to utilize Crawfords speed only in opportune times to help avoid injury? If Francona decides to only utilize Crawfords speed in certain situations, then another component of Crawfords game has been diminished. If Crawford does not excel hitting leadoff and is dropped into the middle of the order, will the opportunity to run be diminished even more as most managers don't run when they have a powerful middle of the order?

As noted by Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, everything about Crawfords offensive game runs contradictory to Fenway Park (small sample size of 388 at-bats). Lifetime in Fenway Park, Crawford has a slash line of .275/.301/.406 with 1 home run every 85 plate appearances. So, what is Boston getting? A player whose defensive skills will be limited by the park he plays half of his games in? A player whose speed may not be fully taken advantage of because of the wear and tear that stealing bases causes on the body? A player whose hitting style seems to run contradictory to Fenway Park? At the conclusion of 2011, the Red Sox are finally out from under the JD Drew contract, but will they find themselves hamstrung by another bad contract? 


As I discussed in the beginning of this article, the premise of the national and local media is that the Rays have taken a giant step backwards in losing Carl Crawford and that the Red Sox have elevated their team to the top of the American League. It is my opinion that neither statement is correct. I believe that Carl Crawford's output can be matched with players that are already on the current roster. I also don't feel that Carl Crawford is a match for the Boston Red Sox, as his game will be limited due to the park he plays in and a manager who may control his running in order to protect the team's investment. I feel it will be more of a challenge for Boston to maxmize Crawford's skill set than it will be for the Rays to replace it.