A league-wide decrease in stolen bases has left some fantasy owners, like Paul, scrambling for help in that category.
I’m not big on mantras. Catchphrases are way cooler. But if there is one mantra/axiom/adage/proverb I espoused this draft season, it was, “Focus on power, there is tons of speed available in smaller chunks.” In 2012, there were 1.33 steals per game. That was down slightly from 2011’s 1.35, but both were up markedly from the 1.22 that held steady from 2009 through 2010. In 2011-2012, there were about 300 more steals in the league than there were in 2009-2010. Plus, they were more evenly distributed.
The 2009 season saw Jacoby Ellsbury lead baseball with 70 stolen bases, and Juan Pierre was just two off of that mark when he led the majors the following year. Michael Bourn and Carl Crawford joined Ellsbury at the top with 61 and 60, respectively, in 2009, before dropping to a trio of 42s (Nyjer Morgan, B.J. Upton, and Matt Kemp). Pierre was the lone member of the 60-steal club in 2010, but Bourn (52) and Rajai Davis (50) were still great, followed by Carl Crawford and Brett Gardner at 47, and then another trio of 42s (Upton again, Ichiro, and Chone Figgins) bringing up the rear of the 40-plus club.
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Taking another look at a deal that was immediately considered, by many, an easy Boston victory.
A narrative about last August’s Red Sox and Dodgers trade has grown up, certainly in Boston and to a lesser extent in the national press. Essentially, the Dodgers foolishly helped the Red Sox by taking a bunch of expensive garbage off their hands. The Red Sox gladly took advantage of the Dodgers, passing off said garbage while also acquiring two top pitching prospects in Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa. Weighed down by their expensive Boston detritus, the Dodgers now languish in last place while the Red Sox, freed from these obligations, have floated towards the top of their division. In short, win for Boston, loss for Los Angeles. But I’m not so sure that’s the case.
When the trade was made the players headed to Los Angeles were looked at as under-performing and expensive. That’s mostly because they were. Carl Crawford had played 161 games over two seasons for Boston, producing just over a win in the process, and had followed that up by undergoing Tommy John surgery. Adrian Gonzalez was in the midst of his worst season since his first in San Diego, and was supposedly one of the organizers of a meeting with the front office to complain about manager Bobby Valentine. In retrospect it’s hard to fault Gonzalez for that one, though the optics aren’t great. Josh Beckett had taken his reputation from World Series hero to clubhouse cancer and added the cherry on top of a five-plus ERA. Nick Punto was who cares I don’t know why he was included in the trade. Point is, the players Boston sent west were not at the peak of their trade value, yet L.A. took them, their full contracts, and handed over two pitching prospects to boot.
What can a closer look at Carl Crawford's shifting approach at the plate tell us about his likelihood of success in Los Angeles?
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Matt goes beyond the obvious and processes the Mega-Trade from Boston's perspective.
As you’re certainly aware, the Red Sox and Dodgers pulled off the super-crazy extreme mega-trade of this or any other century last Friday night. BP’s own R.J. Anderson and Kevin Goldstein already delved into the specifics of the deal, but if I may be permitted, I’d like to share some further thoughts.
It’s being called the Mega-Trade, and hooray for that because what we need now is to put names on specific trades that make them sound like Transformer knock-offs. The Dodgers next deal will be dubbed the Decepti-Deal and it will turn from a reasonable trade into a franchise stomping dino-car.
Before we can talk about what the Red Sox can do, we must figure out what the Red Sox are.
By July 31st, teams usually have a good sense of how their season is going. Some are doing well. Some aren’t. In either case that certainty, unwelcome as it may be in the latter case, makes decisions easier. First place teams are “buyers,” last place teams are sellers. As a GM you know that it’s time to bolster the major-league roster, or conversely, that it’s just not happening this year. Time to sell off some pieces and live to fight another year. Things are easy when it’s that simple.
It gets stickier when teams are in between those extremes. This is a land where cogent arguments for both buying and selling exist. You could even argue coherently for doing nothing and not be burned at the stake. Mostly though, it’s a dangerous land, one where the wrong decisions can haunt a franchise for years.
There are surprises that are awful, like Carl Crawford's collapse. Then there are the other kind.
As sabermetricians, we are imbued with the idea of sample size. The larger the amount of data we have, the more certain of our conclusions we can be. But sometimes it’s the strange things that happen over a third of a season, the very things you’d be nuts to predict, that make the season exciting.
Take, for example, Daniel Nava. He plays left field for Boston. That’s weird, you say, because the Red Sox have a left fielder. True. His name is Carl Crawford. He played nine years for the Rays/Devil Rays, displaying defensive brilliance, above-average power, and speed that could alter the molecular structure of water. Between 2004 and 2010, his last season in Tampa, Crawford hit .301/.344/.461 with gold glove defense (as opposed to Gold Glove defense which is often worthless). After that, the Red Sox snapped him up for seven years, $142 million. He was the heir apparent to Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, and Manny Ramirez.
Michael looks at the similar situations of Carl Crawford and Jose Reyes and examines what kind of payday is in store for Reyes this offseason.
Remember a few weeks ago when the careers of Jose Reyes and Carl Crawford were examined to determine whether Reyes was deserving of a Crawford-like contract, a claim with which Mets owner Fred Wilpon disagreed? Well, since that article on May 30, Reyes has hit .371/.408/.614, further cementing his MVP-caliber season and pushing one MLB executive to agree with the prior statement.
When looking at the two players and their careers side-by-side, they both bear an eerily similar resemblance to each other. Both players debuted in the majors with 60-plus game cameos at age 20, separated only by a single season. Both signed four-year extensions with their initial teams with club options that carried them through their age 28 seasons. Thus, both players would be entering their first foray into free agency at age 29. Here were their stats through age 28:
The mood in Fort Myers is positive, but Terry Francona cautions that Boston's new lineup hasn't won anything yet.
FORT MYERS, Florida—Terry Francona smiled but squirmed ever so slightly in his chair when it was suggested that the Red Sox are considered the favorites to win the American League this season and capture their third World Series in his eight years as manager.
Examining the speed of the free agent and what it means for his future prospects.
Carl Crawford is the most desired free agent hitter on the market. No disrespect to Jayson Werth, Victor Martinez, and the rest who filed for free agency, but Crawford’s speed, athleticism, and overall skill set are exceeded only by Ichiro. Given that Ichiro has never really hit the free agent market other than prior to coming from Japan to the Mariners prior to his historic 2001 rookie campaign, there’s little question why The Perfect Storm is as coveted as he is.
Some of the numbers on Crawford are pretty impressive. He’s stolen 409 bases in parts of nine seasons at a clip of just under 82 percent, which is well above the established break-even point of 75 percent. He reeled in his first Gold Glove in 2010, and if it hadn’t been for the Torii Hunter show running later than an afternoon Black Friday shopper, he may have snagged a couple more in the process, even if less than 4 percent of his career innings have been played in center field, a position Gold Glove voters tend to favor. His .279 career TAv is also nothing to scoff at, nor is his 35.5 career WARP.