Why Angels Must Move Fast On Crawford
The word is the Angels and Carl Crawford already are deep in talks, and that’s a good sign.
An even better one would be for the club to lock up the much-coveted free agent outfielder to a multi-year deal.
Because if they don’t get this done quickly, their chances of winning the Crawford Derby could diminish greatly. You see, their primary rivals in trying to land the Tampa Bay All-Star are believed to be the Yankees and Red Sox.
The gentlemen from the Bronx have a different first priority, however. They want — no, they feel they must — sign pitcher Cliff Lee. Knowing the size of their bank account, they probably will. But if, for some reason, they don’t, many think Crawford becomes their Plan B.
It could be the same for the Red Sox, who are known to be deeply interested in outfielder Jayson Werth and Crawford. If, as some think, their first preference is the more powerful Werth, that leaves the Angels a window open to themselves to pursue Crawford. But again, if Boston fails to land Werth, guess whom their interest immediately turns to? That’s right, the speedy Mr. C.
So the Angels need to be on top of this. Both Arte Moreno and Tony Reagins have to be fully involved, and Torii Hunter, Crawford’s good buddy, should be texting and tweeting his heart out.
Here is another reason the Angels should be going all out on Crawford before Thanksgiving: Peter Bourjos, the young center fielder they were so enamored with in September, is struggling mightily in the Domincan Winter League. Bourjos, who fought to stay above .200 for most of his brief big league stay, is currently averaging .203 with a paltry on-base percentage of .292 in winter ball.
Whatever he hits down there, the Angels are likely to start the season with Bourjos and his gifted defensive skills in center field. But if he can’t hit consistently enough to stay there — and there are those who think that could happen — Hunter might have to return to center from right field, and there will be an urgent need for another quality outfielder.
Before Angels fans get too discouraged, they should also know that young Mark Trumbo, the best power-hitting prospect in the organization, is lighting it up in winter ball. He currently has a .336 average with 5 home runs and 21 RBIs in 101 at-bats in the Venezuela Winter League. That includes a glittering .405 on-base percentage and .579 slugging percentage.
That should be enough to give him a long look in spring training, maybe as a possible left fielder, especially if Crawford isn’t signed, or as a potential DH. Trumbo, like Bourjos, didn’t hit much in his even briefer big league opportunity in September, but that power is real and he’ll certainly get a chance to show it in the spring.
Realistically, though, he would also have to show he isn’t a defensive liability in the outfield, where his experience is limited. More likely, if the Angels decide that’s where he’ll have to play with Kendry Morales locked up at first base, Trumbo would be sent back to Triple A, at least for part of the season, to polish his new outfield skills.
Whatever way you look at it, acquiring Crawford remains pivotal for Mike Scioscia’s team. Precluding everything else, this is a guy made to order for this manager’s style. And right now, there is a gaping hole at the top of the Angels’ line up.
If I’m Moreno and Reagins, I make him a fat offer before the end of the week.
Chances are, Crawford will want to wait a while before making his decision, hoping to get teams to bid against each other. All the more reason the Angels’ owner and GM should act now.
Seriously, guys, just think how much better that turkey would taste on Thanksgiving if you knew you had arguably baseball’s most versatile player already in the fold.
— STEVE BISHEFF