Why Angels Are Desperate For Crawford
Baseball’s free-agent sweepstakes are about to begin, and yes, in case you were wondering, those are the Angels literally panting whenever Carl Crawford’s name is mentioned.
Saying they’ll be involved in the Crawford bidding is like saying the victorious GOP is about to get involved in waylaying everything President Obama suggests in the next two years.
In other words, it’s a bit of an understatement. The Angels aren’t just interested in Crawford. They desperately covet him. Here’s why:
1. He is the prototypical Mike Scioscia player. He hits .300, delivers 15 to 20 homers and 80 to 90 RBIs and he steals 50 or 60 bases. He is a one-man offensive catalyst for a team that currently has no one to put at the top of its lineup. (No, I haven’t forgotten Peter Bourjos. I’m just not convinced he can hit well enough to bat that high yet.)
2. Crawford is a Gold Glove left fielder. Considering the train wrecks the Angels started at the corner outfield positions most of this past year, he would be a huge upgrade defensively, one the pitchers would endorse enthusiastically. Crawford has speed, a good arm and covers so much ground, Torii Hunter could go back to playing center if Bourjos isn’t ready to play every day. If Bourjos is ready, Crawford’s addition would give this team the best defensive outfield in the major leagues.
3. From all accounts, Crawford is a class guy and buddies with Hunter,
who has been recruiting him hard for months. He’s also someone who knows how to win and is familiar with the Angel way, considering his manager for the past few seasons was Joe Maddon, Scioscia’s old bench coach in Anaheim.
So it should be a done deal for the Angels, right? Uh, to quote ESPN’s Lee Corso, not so fast my friend.
Crawford is one of the Big Three, all of whom are about to enter free agency. The other two are Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth. Each is expected to sign for something more than $100 million.
Crawford will be getting the hard sell not only from the Angels, but from the Red Sox and, if they don’t sign Lee, from the Yankees. Going against the big wallets in Boston and the Bronx is never easy.
Remember what happened with Mark Teixiera? Arte Moreno does. He vowed never to get into one of those heavyweight bidding contests again.
Well, guess what, Arte? You’re about to dive into another one.
Or are you? The Angels’ owner has vowed to spend whatever it takes to get back to the playoffs. And while that promise looked good in the newspapers and online, let’s not forget the Angels’ payroll is already high and there are several key players who are coming up for arbitration, meaning the total could go even higher.
So if the Red Sox and Yankees bump up the Crawford price tag past $120 million, will Moreno hang in? Or will he bail and try to sign somebody like Adrian Beltre, instead. Somebody who would come considerably cheaper?
Those are interesting questions, and we probably won’t have the answers until sometime in the next couple of months.
You have to know this much, though: Give Scioscia his choice of all the free agents out there, and it is no mystery whom he would pick first.
Mr. Crawford, the next move is yours.
— STEVE BISHEFF