Crawford, Gardner, Ross
The question I probably get asked more than any other this time of year is “what do you do in the offseason?” It’s assumed by some that baseball writers go into a bunker for the winter and lounge around watching Oprah while eating Bon Bons. I can assure you that’s not the case — I don’t even like Bon Bons.
There will still be a lot of stories going up on Reds.com and MLB.com over the next few months. Many of them will be of the hot stove variety — which players are going where in free agency, trades, etc.? I often get a lot of questions from Reds fans that start salivating for the trendy expensive free agent.
The one player I can already tell will be asked a lot about this time around is soon-to-be free agent and about-to-be former Rays outfielder Carl Crawford. I have two words for you on that:
Crawford won’t be wearing the Reds wishbone ‘C’ on his hat. Yes, he’d be the ideal guy that fits all of the Reds needs — leadoff type hitter, good defense, hits for average and has a high OBP. But even though he’s never hit 20 home runs in his entire — all of this has reportedly added up to an expected $100 million contract on the market. After making such good use of their system for this past season, the Reds aren’t going to get into that game now. And they’re not going to win a bidding war vs. the Yankees, Angels, etc.
The Reds have vast pitching depth, especially starters. I do envision them cashing some of those chips to make a trade for a leadoff hitter. Not many guys are really jumping off of the page at this early stage. But if the Yankees signed Crawford, young Brett Gardner would make some sense if he became available. He’d be relatively cheap as someone not arbitration eligible. He batted .277 with a .383 OBP and 47 stolen bases this past season. He’s a left-handed hitter and an outfield defense with Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs and Gardner might be tough to top in the NL.
*Cody Ross is a popular dude with four postseason home runs and I tweeted last night about his very brief stay with the Reds. Ross was in Cincinnati for one month and played all of two games. He was acquired in April, 2006 from the Dodgers for LHP Ben Kozlowski and traded to the Marlins for cash in May. In his first plate appearance with the Reds, Ross was hit on the hand by a Roy Oswalt fastball and went on the DL. He played one game after that and was dealt when the Reds needed roster space to activate Kent Mercker.
Very quickly after that tweet, someone commented that the Reds weren’t wise to let Ross get away. At the time though, he had 63 MLB at-bats with three teams over three years and a combined .190 average. The Reds outfield was crowded with Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns and Ryan Freel. There were a ton of transactions that season and I know former GM Wayne Krivsky really liked Ross and didn’t want to deal him. But he needed the roster space. It goes to show you never know what will become of some guys that simply come and go.
Follow me on Twitter at