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If the Yankees can’t get Cliff Lee, plan B is Carl Crawford

Nov 18, 2010, 10:01 AM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays' Carl Crawford makes a sliding catch against the Seattle Mariners during the third inning of their MLB American League baseball game in St. Petersburg

If the Yankees don’t get Cliff Lee, they’re not going to go with the so-called second best options on the market to bolster their rotation. Mostly because those second best options are allegedly Jorge De La Rosa, who isn’t that good, and Carl Pavano, who the Yankees wouldn’t sign again if he was the last ballplayer left on Earth.

Nope, According to Ken Davidoff of Newsday, the Yankees will pursue Carl Crawford if they are unable to sign Cliff Lee. The thinking being that they can then trade either Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson or Nick Swisher for a starting pitcher. That’s certainly not ideal, in that the Yankees would no doubt love to keep their relatively low-cost outfield intact and spend to get Lee instead. But it sure beats trying to sift through a bunch of unpalatable options on the free agent market.

This may all be academic at this point, of course, because I’m still having a hard time seeing the Yankees not get Cliff Lee.

  1. BC - Nov 18, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    If they nabbed Crawford and swapped Granderson for a pitcher, that would be huge.

    • WhenMattStairsIsKing - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:46 PM

      Granderson has some value to rebuild. I’d deal Swisher.

  2. Kevin S. - Nov 18, 2010 at 10:13 AM

    Question is, who are the pitchers you’re looking to deal for? I think Granderson would have to be the guy traded, since Swisher’s the only one who can really play right and no one in hell is going to give fair value for Brett Gardner just yet. So, Granderson for Matt Cain? Cain makes $7 million next year and $15 million in ’12. Granderson makes $8 million next year, $10 million in ’12, and has a $13 million club option with a $2 million buyout in ’13. Basically similar money, with advantage in Granderson’s contract being a team’s choice at extending control. By fWAR, Matt Cain’s been worth about an extra win or so (total) over the past three years, so talent-wise it’s pretty much a wash, too. Giants get an actual offensive player, Yankees still manage to land a pitcher.

    • Ari Collins - Nov 18, 2010 at 10:29 AM

      I really could be wrong, but I BELIEVE fWAR underestimates Cain because it uses xFIP, which assumes that Cain should be giving up more HRs/FB, but he’s fairly well proven he’s exceptionally good at avoiding the long ball.

      Further, fWAR would (I think) overestimate Granderson, because it’s not taking into account the leverage of the situations in which lefties eat him up.

      But all that aside, unless the Giants are seriously winning the trade (not just breaking even), I don’t see them trading their World Champion 1A Pitcher(tm).

      • Kevin S. - Nov 18, 2010 at 10:55 AM

        Is it Matt Cain who controls his HR/FB, or is it his home ballpark? I actually wish xFIP would regress HR/FB to a park-adjusted number instead of just league-average, but Matt Cain consistently beating his xFIP isn’t necessarily on him.

        Also, fWAR is based on FIP, not xFIP, so Cain actually does get credit for not giving up those HR.

        Finally, on Granderson, how much do we think the ability of other managers to leverage LOOGYs against him really hurts? Fangraphs clutch rating has Granderson as essentially neutral in high-leverage situations, relative to what he does in other situations.

    • Lukehart80 - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:50 PM

      The Giants aren’t trading Matt Cain for Curtis Granderson. Come on.

      • Kevin S. - Nov 18, 2010 at 3:33 PM

        The Giants have pitching depth, they need position players. Cain and Granderson provide similar value, have similar contracts, and allow each team to fill their needs from their strengths.

      • Lukehart80 - Nov 18, 2010 at 4:14 PM

        Sure, their value has been close (by fWAR, bWAR has Cain far ahead in 2010), but Cain is also 4 years younger and has not declined over the last couple years. I’m sure there are outfielders the Giants would trade Cain for, because as you said, they’ve got more pitching than hitting, but not even Brain Sabean would make this deal.

      • Kevin S. - Nov 19, 2010 at 4:10 AM

        Except Granderson hasn’t decline, he regressed back to his baseline after an outlier year. I didn’t look at their ages, you’re right on that. I think that matters more if Sabean looks at this trade beyond the years already contracted.

  3. Jonny 5 - Nov 18, 2010 at 10:52 AM

    If trade is in the future for a pitcher, why pick up Crawford at all? They still have a solid OF that doesn’t need Crawford, and they should have plenty of lower level talent to trade off for a pitcher who’s on a team looking to unload a “biggish” salary. Unless they’re looking to supplement the hole that’ll be in the lineup after Jeter gets on his 3-4 year retirement tour? Has Cashman learned nothing from Amaro with the pitchers he’s been able to land? For “peanuts” mind you.

    • yankeesfanlen - Nov 18, 2010 at 11:19 AM

      The simple answer to the Carl Crawford puzzle is that the Universe believes he beats them with his base stealing ability, and when they think that, you know they’re gonna sign him. As for pitchers, they’ll get Cliff Lee too (it’s an even number year) and they can trade the FAT TOAD for a load of spit (except for Farnsworth, then they’d have to take the load).
      Gardner will be the best 4th outfielder we’ve had in years, just give him 2-3 years to learn how to hit.

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:00 PM

        But, But, But it’s going to already take a boatload of $$$ to retain Jeter and Rivera. Then add Lee and Crawford? On top of that, what’s 22% of that that’s going to be pi$$ed away? I tend to think that may even be too much for the Dark side to swallow.

      • yankeesfanlen - Nov 18, 2010 at 12:35 PM

        I get your innuendo, here I thought for a while you were coming around to make us at least your AL (true baseball) team.
        Now, I must say for the first time this post season- Leave ARod Alone!

      • Jonny 5 - Nov 18, 2010 at 2:54 PM

        Naaaa, i’d have to say The AL is for guys who can’t play defense but can tear a cover off a ball, pitchers that can’t hit, and the fans that will accept that nonsense… ;) If i had to pick an AL team to root for it couldn’t possibly be the team that beat My Phills in the WS. Heavens no. I have no rooting interest in an AL team honestly.

  4. jfk69 - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:43 PM

    Yea that makes sense.LOL
    i know you need to trade the swish as his contract is up next year and garder is 4 years youngrer and the same player with like numbers for 500k…So who do think would have leverage in this deal. i TAKE ON 15 MILLION IN CONTRACT ON THE HOPES I CAN MAKE A TRADE…IF THATS PLAN B CASHMAN IS AN IDIOT.

  5. aious - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    The Yankees problem was pitching, not hitting

    Over-paying severely for CC won’t do anything to help them win the World Series

  6. jfk69 - Nov 18, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    PITCHING WINS…THAT IS WHY YOU HAVE A FARM SYSTEM AND THE KILLER BEES.
    i have an outfield for next. Crawford at 15 million per is a luxury.UNLESS JOSH JOHSON IS THE REASON FOR THE DEAL.

  7. jh0088 - Nov 18, 2010 at 4:48 PM

    I almost don’t care who plays Left for the Yanks next year as long as Jeter is no longer the lead off hitter. With his average down and ability to steal bases distinctly missing Jeter is no longer a viable option to lead off for this team. Either Gardner or Crawford, if they get him, must be the leadoff hitter next year. Jeter should go back down to his traditional number two slot, the one where he played when they won tons of championships. He then can revert back to being a solid patient hitter with a speed demon on the base paths in front of him. If Jeter can stop swigning at the first pitch and allow Gardner or Crawford to steal and/or hit and run they’d be up 1-0 or with a runner on Third and no more than one out for Tex to start every game probably at least 33% of the time.

    Give Jeter the 4 years he wants but tell him his days as the leadoff hitter are over. And THAT is for the betterment of the team.

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