Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.
I can absolutely see the attraction that Cliff Lee holds as a free agent, and from the New York Yankees’ perspective, Cliff Lee is basically the reason their season ended in October rather than November. To be able to add a pitcher like Lee to the Yankees rotation would absolutely be a major plus, but if Brian Cashman and the Yankees organization are afforded the ability to only sign one free agent this off-season, then Carl Crawford should be the primary target.
This is a simple question of need versus want for the Bronx Bombers.
Do they NEED another pitching ace? In short – no.
C.C. Sabathia remains one of the frontrunners to win the AL Cy Young Award AGAIN for his performance in 2010. He was the only 20-game winner in the American League this past season, and at a pricey $25M per season, he is the undeniable anchor of the Yankees’ pitching rotation.
If the Yankees were to sign Lee, he would become a luxurious complement to Sabathia, but he would neither supplant nor replace Sabathia as the top pitcher in the Yanks’ rotation. As much as the Yankees may enjoy opening up the check book, I don’t think they NEED to pay upwards of $150M for a number-two pitcher.
Now, left field in New York is a different story.
Brett Gardner had a decent season in left, but this is an area where they could absolutely use an upgrade. Enter, Carl Crawford.
At the plate, Crawford is exponentially more productive than Gardner. In 2010, his average was 30 points higher, and he racked up 52 more hits, 14 more home runs, and 43 more RBI than did Gardner.
Just imagine Crawford at the plate in pinstripes, batting behind, say, Derek Jeter (who I am confident the Yankees will re-sign). Yankee Stadium is a home run paradise for left-handed hitters, which should inflate Crawford’s home run total, and Jeter will give Crawford many more RBI opportunities than Jason Bartlett, Tampa’s leadoff hitter. As for those at-bats where Crawford doesn’t go yard, his base-running ability will be another huge boost for the Yankees, who have hitters like Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, Alex Rodriguez, or Robinson Cano to move him around the bases.
The best lineup in baseball just got better. Oh yeah, did I mention that Crawford provides an upgrade in the field as well?
Gardner may have only committed one error in the field for the Yankees last season, but Crawford’s speed, range, and athleticism make him a much better defensive left fielder, especially when paired with Curtis Granderson in center field.
Crawford, who is in line for his first career Gold Glove award this season, led all left fielders with a range factor of 2.24, and his 306 put-outs were second only to Juan Pierre (307) of the Chicago White Sox.
The addition of Carl Crawford to the New York Yankees further solidifies their positioning as the best lineup in baseball, and elevates their outfield into the ranks of being the best defensive trio in the league.
Any way you look at it, Carl Crawford IMPROVES the Yankees, while Cliff Lee only COMPLEMENTS them.
If Hal Steinbrenner signs only one free agent this off-season, it had better be Carl Crawford!