Thursday, December 9, 2010

Crawford Joins the Red Sox

Like I said late last night, things change from minute to minute during the Hot Stove Season.  Yesterday, the buzz surrounding Crawford had him going to the Angels.  This morning, he's a member of the Boston Red Sox.  

Mike Cole of the New England Sports Network reports that Crawford and the Red Sox have come to terms on a 7 year $142M contract to bring the speedy, multi-faceted left fielder to Boston.  His agent, Greg Genske, confirmed the deal as well.  Crawford's deal is the second biggest ever given to an outfielder, behind only Manny Ramirez's 8 year $160M given during the 2000-2001 offseason by the Red Sox. 

So what does this all mean?  For the Red Sox, it's simple.  They get a tremendous player that will consistently provide a .370 wOBA, Fielding Bible Award quality defense, 40-50 steals, and 5-6 WAR in value per season.  (At least for the next couple of years.)  Additionally, Crawford's signing makes the Red Sox lineup much deeper.  It shouldn't surprise anyone if the Red Sox have the number one offense next season in terms of runs scored and team OPS.  Here is my version of the Red Sox lineup in 2011:
Ellsbury CF (left-handed)                             
Crawford LF (left-handed)                            
Gonzalez 1B (left-handed)                             
Youkilis 3B (right-handed)                            
Ortiz DH (left-handed)                                  
Pedroia 2B (right-handed)                             
Drew RF (left-handed)                               
Saltalamacchia C (right-handed)                       
Scutaro SS (right-handed)                                  

My first thought is that this is a pretty scary lineup.  It has speed, power, and patience.  What more could you ask for out of a lineup?  The only problem with their lineup is that it's heavily tilted towards left-handed hitters, especially at the top.  A team that's heavy on strong left-handed pitching (like the Yankees could become if they sign Cliff Lee) could potentially dominate this lineup.  As a result, this should probably be our lineup versus right-handed pitching.  Here's my projected lineup against LHP:

Ellsbury CF (left-handed)
Pedroia 2B (right-handed)                            
Gonzalez 1B (left-handed)                               
Youkilis 3B (right-handed)                              
Crawford LF (left-handed)
Drew DH (left-handed)
Cameron RF (right-handed)                                
Varitek C (right-handed)                          
Scutaro SS (right-handed)      

This line up is a little more balanced.  I put Drew at DH in place of Ortiz against lefties, which allows the right-handed Mike Cameron to play the outfield.  Ortiz has hit poorly against LHP over the past few seasons, and I don't see him improving as he ages.  While it wouldn't be terrible for him to occasionally hit against lefties, I wouldn't suggest he do so too often.  Perhaps he only does it when Drew is either injured or in need of a rest.  It's no secret Drew is injury prone, so giving him time at DH lowers the likelihood of him getting injured.  Like him or not, the Red Sox are better when he's in the lineup.

I also put Varitek in the lineup (against LHP) in place of Salty.  I'm not sure this actually helps the team, as Tek is a better hitter from the left side than the right.  Also, I don't see a pure platoon situation at catcher.  I envision Varitek catching for Beckett and possibly Lackey, while Salty takes on the remainder of the load.  This would allow both hitters to bat against lefties and righties.

With a deep lineup and a potentially deeper rotation, the Red Sox should be viewed as the favorites to win the AL East next season.  If they can add a key bullpen piece or two, we may be looking at a team that could make a run at 100 wins.


  1. Alright. Here is what I don't get. I haven't heard or seen anything that has talked about the favorable splits that RS players have vs. left-handed pitching.(Mazz had the most in depth report
    There must be something that I am missing... because in looking at the projected starting day lineup, three are better hitters against LHP than RHP. Here are the splits, vs. LHP first (2008-2010 courtesy of ESPN):

    Ellsbury CF l .305/ .278
    Crawford LF l .259/ .316
    Gonzalez 1B l .337/.278
    Youkilis 3B l .328/ .302
    Ortiz DH l .218/ .274
    Pedroia 2B r .284/ .315
    Drew RF l .246/ .279
    Saltalamacchia C s .194/ .263
    Scutaro SS r .274/.276

    *Lowrie SS/2B s .324/ .216
    *Varitek C s .252/ .205
    *Cameron CF r .289/ .236

    Ellsbury, Gonzalez, and Youkilis all crush lefties, posting significantly improved batting averages (OBP, SLG, and OPS all follow BA trends in this case) Pedroia hits them well and Scutaro is a push. Both Lowrie and Varitek are better vs. lefties. Lowrie has a fairly small sample size but it still tells us that he has the ability to hit big league southpaws. And I agree with you about Varitek, he has rarely, if ever, been inserted into a lineup based on his bat, so he will hit against the pitchers that match up with whoever wants him as their catcher.
    Crawford and Drew are at about .250 as a tandem which isn't awful. It makes some sense for Cameron to play vs. lefties if he, Ells, or Crawford can play Right field. That leaves Salty and Ortiz. They struggle. No way to sugar coat that. They probably will hit anyway because the RS don't have that experienced lefty killer as a backup (Reddick is 2-5 with a double, McDonald is .312/ .228 but I don't see him pinch hitting for Big Papi) and pitchers still need to be on top of their game pitching to Ortiz no matter which hand they throw with.
    It looks like the RS, while being predominately left handed, are pretty well balanced overall and are particularly suited to hit left handed pitching. Do you have some insight for me? Why is no one talking about this?

  2. Let me look into this for you Khalid... I'll respond soon.