Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Werth vs. Crawford

As promised, here it is. And in no surprise, I will say that I would rather have five years of Jayson Werth than seven years of Carl Crawford.

First point: The length of the contract. Using a term that I used first but Tim C most recently used, it's less likely that Werth becomes a Slurpee (good at the beginning, an icy shell of its former self at the end) than Crawford does, because the market will likely not dictate he gets more than five or six years. Crawford will get more. I anticipate the market being reasonably scared away by Werth's temperment and injury history, but sometimes that's the kind of thing you need to take a risk on for production. Crawford will likely command 8 years and $150 million; Werth may be had for half of that. And honestly, I fear filling a starting position and a roster spot for Carl Crawford at age 37 for no reason other than that he's making $20 million and was really good eight years before.

Plus, let's revisit the Werth injury conundrum one more time. He suffered his injury in March 2005. He was 26 at the time. He played the injury-sapped 2005 season and missed the 2006 season completely. He played half a season at age 25 in 2004, when he hit 16 home runs in less than 300 at-bats. If you want to rag on Werth for saying that he did nothing until he was 28, that's fine. It is also true that Boston's sweetheart 46 has done nothing except hit .353 in 30 games against minor leaguers and steal one base in the World Series before his 27th birthday.

Crawford, on the other hand, accomplished a lot by this age. In fact, he's only 23 months older than the Red Sox' young player with a lot of speed, youth, upside, and potential. But let's call it the Cal Ripken rule. He's played 150 games six out of the last eight years, and has played 140 in five out of the last eight. On artificial surface (though it was strictly field turf for several years now). Crawford has played 460 more games than Werth has. You gotta think it takes a toll on the body.

In fact, there are decades of baseball history that would suggest just that, especially for fast guys. Tim Raines stole thirty bases just once after the age of 32. Kenny Lofton stole thirty bases zero times after the age of 32. Even Rickey Henderson only accomplished that task twice after 34, regressing from a Hall of Famer to a league-average player for the last decade of his career. Andre Dawson's base-stealing days were over, done, finished by the age of 29, and the only reason he stayed relevant was the fact that he could hit the ball out of the park as well. By the time he played in Boston (age 38, the age Crawford would be at the end of his contract), the poor guy could barely freaking walk. The examples go on. Jose Offerman was once a league leader in steals.

Considering that Crawford, while good, is NOT Rickey Henderson, it is reasonable to assume that using a similar trajectory, he may become league average or below for the second half of this contract. I think his trajectory will be a bit kinder due to medical advances, but he's not going to be doing this forever. He might keep on hitting .300 with a low-to-medium walk total and less than 20 home runs a year. But is that something worth paying a fortune for? Yes, he's durable. But you can ask me this over the last year and a half: you're always durable until the first time you get hurt. Blocking an outfielder spot all the way to 2018 for a high-paid shell is not a good thing. You think the Red Sox would rather have JD Drew or David Murphy right now?

Also, Jayson Werth's tools are more aligned with the Red Sox' needs. Without even getting into the debate of whether speed is a worthwhile tool to have in baseball (notorious 46-hater Tony Massarotti points out that the Giants were last in the majors in steals this year), the team already has a fast guy in 46 at the top of the lineup (or the top of the DL). But assuming they lose Beltre, do they have a single guy who can hit 30 home runs? Maybe Drew will with the bullpens pushed in, especially if the Red Sox can find a way to only play games on Friday nights. But this is a team who will be unable to hit home runs, period. While this is not necessary to be successful (hello late-90s Yankees), it helps. Plus, it's not like Werth is Adam Dunn here. He can run. He can play defense, too. He can go after fly balls hard in situations that are actually useful for the team instead of costing the team the season on a foul sac fly. Thought you were gonna ask me about that.

I am not denying that Carl Crawford has tools. I am not even going to deny that Crawford will be a better player over the next one, four, or even five years. Years 6, 7, and 8 scare the crap out of me, though, while years 4 and 5 of Jayson Werth, where he still won't be hitting Crawford's CURRENT mark of 1235 games played, scare me considerably less.

Enjoy yo day.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

DV

A good post and the best part of it is this--the years. You're absolutely right about the fact that Crawford will get more years and more money per year (in all likelihood). In all honesty though, I'd rather have neither guy--use that money to sign Beltre or Martinez--neither Crawford nor Werth are as good as either of those guys.

PF

Maybe you're just a little antsy because Jeter hasn't re-signed yet (don't worry--where else is he going to go?) and so I won't get offended that you seemed to confuse my calling Lebron James 'gutless' and a 'coward' and confusing that with the idea that he's a bad player, or plays on bad teams. The Cavs had the best record in the NBA the past two seasons. The teams that finished first and second in wins last year were in the Eastern Conference. In 2008-09, three or the four winningest teams in the NBA were in the East. In 2007-08 the top two records in the NBA were in the East. This will be the fourth straight season where the West is weaker than the East.

--the Gunn

the gm at work said...

I was thinking about the Werth/Beltre thing briefly last night, probably about 80% of the way through writing this post. I was thinking, maybe that key 30-HR hitter is already right in front of us. But then I realized that there were years other than 2004 and 2010 in his career, and those years do not look good. That's why I decided to not pull the plug on this post.

Also, for the record, I do think 5 years of Crawford might be better for the team than 5 years of Werth. But you cannot purchase 5 years of Crawford in this current free agent market.

Lebron would tell you he plays on bad teams.

Patrick said...

gunn -

if jeter signs elsewhere, i'm not sure i would be much above indifferent. that's a story for another day, and while i obviously (emphasis added) would like to have him back from a leadership/consistency perspective, as well as the fact that i like him for a bounceback, i also don't think it's so important that if he went elsewhere it would crush the yankees chances of winning the 2011 world series. especially if the money isn't right. antsy would be the antithesis of how i'm feeling regarding jeter right now.

i think we both know that team(s) with the best record(s) is not the only thing that dictates best conference in the nba (or any league), and that it is entirely too narrow and uninformative statistic for this analysis. and that's because of the obvious - if you're in a softer overall conference, it should be easier for the better teams to have better records (since you play in conference twice as much as out of conference). it doesn't necessarily mean that they are better than teams with lesser records in other conferences, and more importantly definitely doesn't even speak to the strength of the conference after the first 2-3 teams, which is what we are talking about here in an 8 team playoff. the celtics were the best team in the nba in 2008, no doubt. but having them, and even 1-2 other teams that dominate the east, doesn't mean the east is tougher than the west. you have to look at how at least the first 8-10 teams match-up overall. you and i both spend a lot of time watching and reading about the nba. it was a pretty widely discussed and accepted analysis that the west was deeper and and better than the east, and i don't know how i could have seen that and you missed it. if that's the case i don't think we need to debate it. the east has never at any point in the last 5 years been able to put forth a league as deep as LA, new orleans, san antonio, utah, houston, phoenix, dallas, denver a few years ago. comparable teams in the east were washington, toronto, philly in the bottom of the playoffs. think about what the talent comparison of those teams was a few years ago. it's not even close.

i wasn't only referring to you with the lebron comments (because many more commented on his inability to win), but in addition to those things you, and others, did call him a "quitter". and it's not impressive, or difficult, to beat a quitter. and you may not have said the cavs were a bad team, but you don't have to because i will come close. the cavs were not a bad team, but they were not a really, really good team either. able to rack up regular season wins, but exposed against tougher teams because it was close to a one man show. the fact that this type of team was the main competition for the celtics in the east is not impressive. the fact that there was barely anybody in the conference after them (a little detroit, a little orlando, a quick flirtation with atlanta) speaks to a conference that lacked depth, and really lacked everything besides 1-2 good teams at the top.

TimC said...

Kind of between PF and Gunn here- I may have posted this yesterday- but I think last year was the turning point where East > West. The top four in the East- BOS, ATL, ORL, CLE- were in my mind above #2-#8 in the West. And the Lakers, top dogs, were at about the level of those four teams. Top heavy, like mentioned regarding some previous seasons, but with four teams there I think it overtook the West.

DV, signing anyone at Crawford's age for 8 years is too much. But would the Sox really sign this player for 8 years? I understand that his 'market-contract' may turn out to be as such. But are the Red Sox interested in the player for such a length? Perhaps if the bidding gets there and Crawford is adamant about the length the Sox just drop out, rendering that concern just about moot. I think the relevant question is to compare the contracts the Sox would sign the players to- and I suspect they would back off an 8-year deal. At what length does signing Crawford make more sense than signing Werth to five?

Anonymous said...

PF

I definitely called Lebron a quitter. Your connection between being a quitter and being a loser is more than fair. That said, the Cavs rolled the Lakers twice last year. They just had a bad match-up with the Magic in 2009 (nobody to match up with Howard). Last year? They just packed it in Games 5 and 6.

DV

Beltre has not been the most consistent offensive threat. But he's played in two MASSIVE ballparks. And he has had one bad contract year which means he's not exactly a turn it on/turn it off guy. I'm not saying he'll be an MVP candidate every year, but it's fair to expect him to hit 20-29 homers, play great defense, and rack up a lot of extra base hits.

--the Gunn

Patrick said...

timc -

as i alluded to yesterday, i would definitely accept the argument that last year things started to change. it was the first time in a while that it wasn't west>east. i would say it was pretty close to west=east. this year it is shaping up to be a bigtime east>west, as gunn pointed out to get this whole thing started yesterday. but prior to last year, it had been a few years of consistent, and in some cases dramatic, west>east. i mean not even close/debatable. akin to saying the yankees and red sox are better than the blue jays and orioles. just something that was commonly accepted.

Patrick said...

gunn -

absolutely. and like i said, it's not like we are dealing with a bad team. the cavs had one of the best players in the league and won a lot of games. everyone knows how i feel about the 7 game effort the cavs/lebron put forth in 2008 against the celtics. but they weren't better than the celtics, and they weren't better than a handful of teams in the west. last year i didn't watch that series and say "wow, the celtics really have to work to win these games against the cavs." they just dominated them the last few games. and the cavs were one of the best the east had to offer.

you original point that the celtics, and everybody in the east, have a tough road this year is well taken. certainly tougher than the west. i was just pointing out that prior to this year, and certainly prior to last year, the roles really were reversed. the west was a tougher league with better players and better teams that frankly was a lot more exciting to watch, especially come playoff time.

jason said...

how about felix hernandez

Anonymous said...

Gunn,

The west has been better than the east for a long time. I can't believe we are having this conversation. Next you'll be arguing in favor of communism.

Bandi