Jayson Werth vs. Jose Bautista vs. Carl Crawford
By Brian Phair
The news came out Tuesday that the Boston Red Sox proposed several trade options to the Toronto Blue Jays for 3B/OF Jose Bautista before eventually signing Carl Crawford to a mega-deal. These proposals apparently came after the Sox had taken a run at Jayson Werth and watched him sign with the Washington Nationals. This new information certainly sparks my imagination. What if the Red Sox had signed Werth or Bautista instead of Crawford. Given the beauty of hindsight, did the Red Sox make the correct choice by dumping a ton of money into Crawford or was a trade for Bautista or the signing of Werth better for the franchise. Let’s examine each scenario and determine if the Red Sox made the correct choice. (more after the jump)
Scenario #1: Jayson Werth
Starting in apparent chronological order, let’s take a look at Jayson Werth. I have made it very clear in the past that I do not particularly care for Werth, but for this situation, let’s look solely at his stats and his fit within the Red Sox lineup, eliminating as much bias as possible (even though that is physically and mentally impossible). Werth is a career .272 hitter, belting 120 home runs during his 8-year career. Most of his career home runs have come over the past 3 seasons (87) during his emergence as a serious slugger. He has played in 315 of the Phillies 324 games over the past 2 seasons and has proven to be a formidable middle-of-the-lineup type guy. In 2010, Werth hit .296 with 27 home runs and 85 rbis, which would have made him a strong #3 or #5 hitter in an already powerful Red Sox lineup. His defensive ability leaves something to be desired however, and with the green monster in left-field at Fenway Park, it would be a difficult position to play. If the Red Sox were looking for a pure slugger, Werth would not have been a bad option.
Overall Rating: B-
Scenario #2: Jose Bautista
As skeptical as I was about Werth, I am equally, if not more skeptical about Jose Bautista. Pushing that aside once again, let’s look at what Bautista brings to the table. In his 7 seasons at the big-league level, Bautista has hit .244 with 113 home runs. To say he played 7 seasons is actually misrepresenting the righty, because in 2004 and 2005 he played a total of 75 games for 4 different clubs. It is unfair to judge someone who is bouncing around like a ping-pong ball, so let’s look at just his 2006-2010 numbers. The problem for Bautista, is that his numbers don’t improve much when eliminating his 1st 2 seasons in the league. He has hit .246 and all 113 of his career home runs since 2006 with the Pittsburgh Pirates and Blue Jays, but has struck-out 503 times in 661 games as compared to just 303 walks. His home run total also seems low when you consider he hit 54 of his 113 home runs in 2010, while batting .260. By any standards, Bautista had a great, breakout 2010 campaign, but the rest of his career has been a big question mark. Can he repeat his 2010 numbers again or was it a fluke?
Overall Rating: B+
Defense: B (because he can play 3B and OF)
Scenario #3: Carl Crawford
Obviously, this is the scenario the Red Sox find themselves in right now. Unlike both Werth and Bautista, Crawford is not a power-hitting slugger with limited speed and defensive ability, as a matter of fact, he is almost the opposite. Crawford is a speedster, who hits for a solid-to-high average and is one of the best defensive outfielders in the game. In 8 seasons, Crawford has hit .296 with 104 home runs, and has seen his average climb above .300 for a season 5 of the last 6 years, including a .307 mark in 2010. He surpassed his career home run mark for a season last year with 19, which is clearly less that Werth and Bautista, but he also added 30 doubles and 13 triples to his stats. Where he really stands out from the other 2 players is his speed and defensive ability. When he gets on base, he has the potential to wreck havoc by stealing at will and scoring from 1st base on a well hit ball. He will take away opponent runs with his defensive range and uncanny ability to make spectacular diving catches on a regular basis. What he lacks in power, he makes up for in every other aspect of his game.
Overall Rating: A
For many reasons, Crawford is the best fit in Boston, but it is also a bit unfair to compare him to other players without similar skill sets. Werth and Bautista are power-hitting sluggers who are expected to sit in the middle of the lineup and drive in runs with big flies, where Crawford is a table-setter, on-base percentage type of player who adds value in the field and in the box. Sure, he can hit home runs, but the Red Sox signed him because he is a true 5-tool player and can hurt the opponent in many different ways, not just with the long ball.
Another issue with this comparison is that money was not considered. There was an assumption that money was no issue. For Werth of Crawford, that meant 7-years and a whopping $100+ million and for Bautista, it means the value of the would-be players traded for him. Boston is a big-market club and is lucky enough to have the resources (both financial and prospects) to be able to bring in big-name players. They also have owners willing to invest in winning, which is not the case for every MLB team.
The 3rd and final assumption is that the Red Sox felt they would get their money’s worth from each of these players. For example, Werth ended up signing a mega-deal with the Washington Nationals, a contract the Red Sox would never have offered the slugger. Another example was with Bautista. Trading within a division usually ends up costing more than normal, so to bring in Bautista, it would likely have cost the Red Sox more than they were willing to spend (again, both financially and in prospects). I’m not saying the Crawford deal wasn’t over-inflated or ridiculous, because I think it was, but as we have seen above, he brings more to the table than Werth and Bautista. No matter how you look at the numbers, Werth is not worth (no pun intended) as much as Crawford to the Red Sox. A team without a middle-of-the-lineup hitter may value Werth more than Crawford.
Overall, Crawford was the right choice for the Red Sox. They already have power in their lineup and now they have balance. With speed in Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford, they also have the flexibility to move guys around and not just balance the team, but balance the lineup on any given night. The season is approaching quickly, pitchers and catchers report in just 18 days…