Thursday, September 24, 2009

2010 Outfield: Bossman stays, CC goes

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.


Joel said...

There's one plausible scenario you didn't mention: Bartlett. The guy has been solidly average as a hitter for his entire career; without much in the way of a trend in his past, suddenly he's got stats similar to Derek Jeter with better defense. Do we really expect him to play like that again?

Sure, Crawford's trade value is higher than Bartlett's; but Bartlett's value is a lot more volatile than Crawford's, and I'm pretty certain Bartlett's value is as high as it'll ever be.

Of course that raises the next question: what do we do at SS then? I don't think they want to put Zobrist at SS; that leaves Brignac, a player from another team or - and this is the part that makes me think most about a Bartlett trade - Sean Rodriguez.

I remember the night of the trade deadline, Friedman said they were very close to a deal that didn't obviously go through; then he mentioned that the Garza/Bartlett was a trade that was brewing for a long time. I still think that trade that didn't happen was the Kaz trade, and Scotty's poor performance was what kept it from happening.

Working under that assumption, and the fact that the FO always talks about deals not happening in a bubble, what are we to think when the Rays go aggressively after an infield prospect who really should be MLB-ready in 2010? There are other possibilities (insurance for losing Aki, the FO not believing in Brignac), but it makes sense in the grand scheme of how the Rays operate.

Michael Weber said...

I don't think Bartlett's arbitration is going to kill the Rays and I think for the salary he's going to command, it really doesn't matter if he regresses a bit. Any offense the Rays get from Bartlett is bonus. Bartlett's job is play a good defensive shortstop and help the pitchers out by cutting down on the number of hits.

Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac, or Ben Zobrist just don't have the glove that Bartlett does at SS. I think it's real important to this team to have a guy who can really flash the glove at SS. I don't think Bartlett will be a Ray forever, but I think the FO is going to try and do what they can to keep him around for next season.

CocoFabulous said...

Sitting in the empty stands last night, it felt like the last time I was going to see CC in a Rays uniform. I'm making my peace now to the inevitable isn't so jarring. :o)

Joel said...

Don't short-change Rodriguez - he was actually much more valued for his defense before he started raking at triple-A.

And as good a season as Bartlett has had at the plate, he regressed defensively. In fact, having a look at his career defensive numbers at, Bartlett has regressed defensively pretty much every single year since his first year of substantial playing time in 2005.

This isn't to say I don't agree that CC will be traded - while I think it's not the slam dunk people are making it out to be, it really does make the most sense. I just think the FO would be crazy to not look for some good trade value out of Bartlett.

Forgot to mention one other thing: while I agree with you that the Rays are probably too thin at 1B to trade Peña, I did learn one thing yesterday that made me a bit nervous - Peña is a Scott Boras client.

Bud Light said...

Your wrong about CC UNLESS a super-star type becomes available...Why
The FO now has a feel for public backlass on trading certain players...
There 10 fans who like CC for every 1 who gives a damn for BJ....
Plus here's a big one..on the Rays site they are using CC to help get 2010 season tickets off the ground...I haven't seen any printed material yet but what a nightmare with season ticket buyers if no CC....and they bought tickets!!
CC will be here 1 more year..than young players will be ready.. and can sell BJ with a better 2010!

Michael Weber said...

Good points, Bud. I'll keep my eye out on printed materials for 2010 featuring CC. I still think that the $$$ are more important the fan backlash.

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