Don't fall in love with Carl Crawford, Cubs fans.
So now that the World Series is over, the hot stove can finally begin! We already have some movement via Kenny Williams and the White Sox/Royals but taking a look at some of the more attractive free agents out there (and there's quite a few) Cubs fans can salivate over what could be next year.
It is no secret that the Cubs need more outfield power and speed. No longer can the Cubs rely on a healthy Soriano because, well, he hasn't been healthy since being in a Cubs uniform. And to get the most out of their current outfield, Soriano will have to stay in left and Kosuke must be moved back to his "normal" position (RF). That leaves CF open. Reed Johnson is a free agent now but I expect the Cubs to resign him because he's a solid defender and can platoon with another person (Sam Fuld perhaps?). But that still doesn't address the issue of power and speed. You would essentially have the same team next year as the 2009 team.
I took a peak at some of the outfielders available and I immediately fell in L-O-V-E with Carl Crawford. His speed, stolen bases, on-base percentage, slugging percentage are as attractive to me as Kim Kardashian in a Jasmine Halloween costume--it can be love at first sight. But what lurks underneath the costume and makeup?
The GOOD: In 2009, Carl Crawford had: -UZR 17.6, -60 stolen bases with a success ration of 79%, -on base percentage of .364, -slugging percentage of .452, -BABIP of .346, -wOBA .367, -WAR 5.5, -Dollars 24.6 mill -Salary 8.3 mill
Defensively, Crawford has been a S-T-U-D in left for Tampa Bay since 2002 (with some great UZR numbers in '03,'04,'05,'08,'09). His average UZR equates to 13.2.
The BAD: He plays LEFT FIELD (a position known by most in baseball where you stick your worst outfielder). If the Cubs were to legitamitely pursue him, they would have to move him to center. The reason why Crawford is in left is because of his arm, sure he could cover a lot of ground with his speed but what's the point if he can't throw to the cutoff man? AND he would be playing in the cold for a good month and a half. I don't care if the field in Wrigley has been redone, cold earth is cold earth and when you dive, it will hurt. Another thing to ask is how will he fair when he reaches that warning track? The warning track is the great equalizer at Wrigley because it separates the men from the boys. The men know they will be colliding with an immovable brick wall but they go after the ball anyway, the boys do not. They hesitate and allow the ball to pass their glove. Another thing to consider is his leadership quality. The center fielder is the captain of the outfield. Could he take on this added responsibility?
More BAD: One major problem is his age. He's 28 now. His best years could have been 2008, 2009. Plus, whenever a team signs a free agent, there's always an adjustment period (that includes, getting use to the city, fans, ball park, coaching staff, pitchers, etc, etc) and sometimes these players take the majority of the season (or a whole season) to adjust. So expecting the same level of production is too high of expectations. PLUS-his agent will more likely find a team that signs him to a 5 or 6 year contract basically handcuffing this team when Crawford is well past his prime (but hey, it's all in the best interest of his client).
My colleague Brad had to take off my beer goggles about Crawford's stats and told me the following:
In summary, Cubs fans, don't fall in love with the numbers. Sure they may look good on paper; all the stolen bases, OBP, SLG, UZR, etc, etc...
...but so did Soriano's.