Monday, March 29, 2010

Looking Way Ahead: Crawford or Werth?

Barring a breakout season by Brett Gardner, the Yankees will likely be in the market for an outfielder next off-season. Two of the biggest names on the free agent market will be Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth, and the Yankees will surely take a look at both. The questions the Yankees will have to ask themselves will be which of the these two corner outfielders should they go after? You figure that whichever player is their main target, the other will be the backup plan, so I think there's a good chance one of these guys will end up in Pinstripes.

Now, I know I'm getting ahead of myself here, but with this report about Reggie Jackson's relationship with Jayson Werth, plus, the earlier reports this spring about talks between Carl Crawford and the Rays being put on hold, I couldn't resist.

First, a little bit on the Jackson-Werth connection from Joel Sherman:
The Yankees may have a Werth-y asset when it comes to free-agent recruitment next offseason.

Reggie Jackson has a longstanding relationship with the family of Jayson Werth. He became good friends with Jayson's step-dad, Dennis, when both men were Yankee outfielders from 1979-81. Jayson's mother, Kim, is a sister to Dick Schofield, who was Jackson's Angels teammate from 1983-86.

It was in the role of old family friend that Jackson said he had lunch yesterday at the Tampa Hyatt with Werth, the Phillies right fielder who is expected to be one of the most sought-after free agents next offseason.
Jackson insisted that the meeting was not about trying to recruit him, "this was for old-time's sake," Jackson said.

Moving on to the question at hand, either would be a great addition, and both offer the Yankees a different look offensively.

Crawford, 28, is a top of the lineup speedster, who will hit for average and does have a little pop. He's a career .295 hitter and he's coming off a solid 2009 campaign, hitting .305/.364/.452, with 15 HR, 68 RBI, and 60 stolen bases. He has now stole more than 45 bases in six of the last seven seasons. On top of that he's a great left fielder.

Werth, 30, is finally reaching his potential. After a few quiet years in Toronto and L.A., his career has taken off the last two seasons in Philly. In 2008 he hit .273/.363/.498 with 24 HR and 67 RBI. He followed that up with an even better 2009, hitting .268/.373/.506 with 36 homers and 99 RBI. While he's probably thought of by most as a slugger, he is much more well-rounded than that. Not only has he shown some speed stealing 20 bases in each of the last two seasons, but like Crawford he's also a great defensive outfielder.

Value wise, they both had good 2009's in terms of WAR (Wins Above Replacement), with Crawford putting up a 5.5 and Werth putting up a 4.7. There three-year totals show a different story with Werth racking up a 13.6 to Crawford's 11.3.

If you want to look at it from a money perspective, Fangraphs put Crawford's 2009 dollar value at $24.9 million, a huge jump from $12.2 in '08, and Werth's at $21.0, down from his '08 value of $24.2.

As you can see, both players have a lot to like.

If it were up to me I'd probably go with Crawford, I think he's more of what the Yankees need, plus being a couple years younger helps. But don't get me wrong, Werth would be a great addition as well, but he is going to be 31 next year and has only really had two good seasons in the majors. What they both do this season will obviously also be a factor in this decision for the Yanks, as will there contract demands, which will probably be higher for Crawford. It's not going to be an easy decision for Cashman.

This is a topic of discussion that will come up again, but as of now, who would you make your no. 1 target?

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