A WORD TO THE PROSPECT-LIST UNWISE
A word to the wise ain't necessary; it's the ignoramus at SSI who needs your advice. As you know, there are two things Dr. D couldn't care less about:
1. The National League
2. National prospect lists
So you can just imagine how mighty Dr. D's erudition on J.P. Crawford was, before Crawford became a Mariner.
As it happens, lately there has been some cause for Dr. D to review a prospect list or six, and at some point recently he realized that a certain fledgling shortstop was on everybody's top 100 NOT top 100 that's top TEN (10) lists. Crawford was #4, #7, #anything in the top 10 before 2016 and 2017. Also before last year he was in everybody's top 50, usually 20.
He got a couple of tastes in MLB at ages 22 and 23 and OPS+ed 85 in a few AB's, whereupon Philly fans boo'ed him off the field, metaphorically. Take for example this MLBTR thread, which is either the funniest or saddest you'll see. The commenters are no more eligible for "words to the wise" than I am. In the words of one wag:
Personally, I see a very athletic, toolsy player that has yet to successfully make any adjustments to his swing, bat path, and mental approach at the advanced levels of MiLB. I see a capable, average defender, who’s athleticism allows him to handle multiple positions; however, Crawford really does not grade out as a plus defender anywhere.
To me, a top prospect is a player that should immediately help and positively impact their ML team, upon their arrival at the ML level. Over the past three seasons, there was never a time I once felt that way about JP Crawford.
In other words, they're spitting mad that Crawford didn't give them a Corey Seager-style MVP candidate right off the bat. Crawford didn't hit three homers in his first week and slowly get hot from there.
You might not be any more interested in the NL than I am, but you know all about age-arcs and what it means when a prospect makes the bigs at 22, 23 or 24.
PLUSSES AND MINUSES, DEPT.
Why was Crawford such a whale on the draft lists? Baseball Prospectus said, for example, in late 2017:
Scouting Report: All the party pieces are present for an on-base machine that plays above-average defense at the six-hole, and that’s still a star even in the days of everyone uppercutting a potentially juiced baseball. Crawford has a silky, fast swing from the left side that still projects as average-to-plus at the major-league level notwithstanding some mediocre batting averages in the high-minors. He pairs that with some of the best plate selectivity in the minors, and the combination could coalesce to post some shiny OBPs during his peak. Defensively, he’s a no-doubt shortstop with smooth, strong actions and more than enough arm for the position; he shouldn’t have any issues at second or third if the Phillies so desire, either.
The two remaining tools here aren’t nothing, either.
Ah. So on the plus side, he's an "OBP Machine" with a "silky, fast swing" who plays "No Doubt Shortstop." And could be 20+ homers into the bargain. (Crawford smacked 15 homers in 400+ at bats in AAA at age 22.)
On the minus side, at age 23 in the bigs he had only a 90 OPS+ in 117 at-bats. He did not "immediately help and positively impact the Phillies" when he arrived. I think I can put two and two together, can't you?
Get what? Why Dipoto would chuck Jean Segura out the car window at 75 MPH and grab a Corey Seager type who should be ready in 2020 or 2021. (Split that trade out: Nicasio and Pazos for an aging 33-year old star, and Segura-Crawford.) You might disagree. Dipoto's own opinion is clear. He thinks Crawford is a top-10 prospect.
2023 vs 2024? WHAT'S A YEAR BETWEEN FRIENDS?
My Northwest (Shannon Drayer) quoted Servais thusly:
As expected, Crawford will start the season in Tacoma. Service time no doubt plays into this decision, but coming off a rough first full season in the big leagues with the Phillies, the Mariners want him to be ready and clicking on all cylinders the next time he plays in the big leagues. That’s a philosophy the Mariners hold with many of the younger prospects in the organization. “I think he made some good strides defensively, there are still some things in his game offensively,” Servais said of Crawford. “I know he didn’t swing the bat maybe as he is capable of. We will get him going at Triple-A and when he gets going good he will be back with us.”
The service time issue runs thusly:
Crawford came to the Mariners with a year and 20 days of big league service time, meaning he’ll need to accrue 152 days of service in 2019 to reach the two-year plateau. As it stands, the Mariners control him through the end of the 2023 season, although if he remains in the minors for five weeks, the Mariners would control him through the end of the 2024 campaign. (MLBTR)
Philly baked the cake; now we're going to eat it. Crawford has mastered AAA and had two MLB cups of coffee, with winters to digest them. To call him ML-ready would be an understatement; leaving him in AAA for any longer than this would be...
Well, it would be handcuffing him to the piano for 2024, is what it would be.
Oh by the way it's this, and the fact that they cut Sheffield and Swanson, that lets you know Jerry's not exactly kidding when he says they're targeting 2020-21. The pitchers will only need to stay down a couple weeks, right? But stay down they will; 2019 is not the very top priority.
IN THE MEANWHILE
Tim Beckham projects to 4.1 runs per 27 outs this year, per Shandler. At $1.75 million salary, he's a (very) quality placeholder. Omar Narvaez at 4.7 runs per game isn't. Between the two of them they look like a rock-solid #7-#8 in the lineup to me.
EMOTICON DUSTING HANDS OFF Dept.
Well, that does it for us. We've got our thoughts organized on the J.P. Crawford trade. An ML-ready blue chip shortstop who boasts a high-OBP left hand bat, in return for a minor star who's making $15M per year.
So what's to see here? Looks like a cliche'd Billy Beane moneyball trade to me.