Now, that's the Bossman we've been looking for all year. Last night BJ Upton put on a big show, going 2 for 3 with 3 RBI's in the Rays come from behind win over the Seattle Mariners. He also made a spectacular game-ending catch to make sure the Mariners didn't rise from the dead. And Bossman's performance last night is a perfect example of why Bossman may be in the 2010 outfield without Carl Crawford.
I know. You wish Bossman would just go away. He's been so disappointing. I've heard over and over again from Rays fans that the team needs to part ways with their center fielder. Last year, it was Fernando Perez that was going to take his spot. I hear Rays fans whispering now about Desmond Jennings. The chorus calling for the ouster of Bossman grows with each strikeout, with each base running mistake, and each day his average sits below .250. Heck, I was even mocking him earlier in the year for not being able to break the .200 mark.
Yet despite fan protests and despite the rough season, I fully expect BJ Upton to be starting center field for the Rays in April. And it could be an outfield without Carl Crawford. That's right. I said it. An outfield without CC that includes the Bossman.
Blasphemy, you say! CC is a fan favorite. The team would never trade him! Why would they keep Bossman over the face of the franchise, Carl Crawford? The reasons: Money and risk.
Right now, BJ Upton is arbitration eligible for the 2010 season. Based on his performance this year, I would expect the Rays to come out pretty good when it comes to Bossman's 2010 salary. With Bossman's talent, that could make him a real bargain. A bargain they couldn't get anywhere else. So if the Rays think 2009 was anomaly and not proof of Upton's future, than they would be crazy to move him now.
On the other side, there's CC. He was one of the Rays most consistent players, he's a fan favorite, he was even the All-Star MVP. Yet, the Rays may still move him. CC is one of the "big 3" when it comes to salary next year. CC, Carlos Pena, and Pat Burrell are expected to make almost $30 dollars combined next year. CC would be worth $10 million. One of these guys has to go.
While Pat Burrell would be the obvious choice, it may not be as easy as you think. The Rays would have to find a team willing to take on the salary of a guy who appears to be the shell of his former self. John Romano from the Times suggested that the Rays talk to the Cubs about trading Burrell for Milton Bradley. However, that would only work if the Rays can convince the Cubs that American League pitching and the DH role are behind Burrell's slide. The Rays would also have to decide if bring a guy like Bradley to the team is good for clubhouse chemistry. At the end of the day, the Rays may be stuck Burrell for at least half the season.
As for Carlos Pena, I think the Rays are too thin at 1B to get unload Pena. He's their power-hitting left-handed bat with a good glove at 1B. I just don't think the Rays have a guy that could step in and take his place. They could check out the free agent market, but are they really going to find any value. They may be better off just keeping Pena.
That leaves Carl Crawford. He's coming off a great year and his value may never be higher. The Rays have plenty of outfielders waiting in the wings that could take over in left field, including Ben Zobrist or Desmond Jennings. The Rays could get some real good ball players for CC at bargain rates. It could also leave the Rays in a position to address some of their other glaring needs like catcher and bullpen.
Would I like to CC gone? Absolutely not. Crawford is the face of this franchise, both the good and bad years. We've watched him grow up along with the team. But, I think the Rays are going to put aside emotion and look at CC's value strictly be the numbers. Ownership has already show that they can be very cold when it comes to making moves (trading Kazmir). As long as I keep the $$$$ in mind, moving CC while keeping Upton makes perfect sense.