JP Crawford and Tim Beckham
the Mainframe crunches the logic of the situation

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

Enjoy,

Jeff

Blog: 

Comments

1

I like it.  I like him.  ‘Nuff said.  The guy has had a 100 pt Eye, wherever he has played.  He can pick it.  He will hit a hat full of homers.  I am not particularly concerned if he K’s a bit.  He’s cheap.  

OK, he isn’t Segura with the bat but he isn’t Segura in the locker room either.  Without hard evidence, I admit, it still seems like Segura is a headache in some ways.

Get J.P up here in 35 days and give him the position for 11o games or so.  Don’t dink him around, the position is his, let him own it.  

2

I doubt any baseball person outside the M's expects Crawford to make it.

From BHQ:

  • Crawford has seen his contact rate plummet as he has climbed the ladder through the minors...even when his contact rate was higher, his batting average results have not been good.
  • He's shown flashes of power, but his HctX and xPX have been terrible. 187 AB isn't a large MLB sample, but from what wle've seen so far, he's looked overmatched at the plate.
  • Speed has been his best and most consistent skill, but his stolen base success rates have not been good. 

I think it was Shandler that coined the phrase, "once you demonstrate a skill, you own it."  But what if you've never demonstrated anything?

Anyway, more to the point is Segura.  We all know who he is and what he can do.  But do we really know who he is?  Moe suggests the same thing a lot of people mull...clubhouse poison?

Here's what we know:

--JD had him in the Angels system in 2011 and part of 2012.  Presumably, if Segura were a problem then, JD would have known about it

--JD traded for him from Arizona in 2017.  JD still had friends in that organization from his GM term there. If Segura were a problem, why would JD not have known about it?

--JD signed Segura to a 5 year extension later that year.  If Segura were a problem, why would JD give him the contract?

So the logical assumption here is that something had to happen last year either in the clubhouse...or personally between JD or Servais and Segura...to force the abominable trade for Crawford.  One is asked to consider why, on a team that prides itself on building 'chemistry' and close harmony, it wasn't able to take an all star shortstop and make him happy enough to continue being productive.  (Note: he really didn't fall off the second half--can't blame him for the team collapse.  High sky BABIP did fall, but walks were up and strike outs down.)

For me, the problem is with management, not the player.

3

After starting the season in a bad slump,1 for 25 he finished up much better with a  .255/.369/.479 line.  I'd take that.

4

... if we're going by his fifty games last year, that is.  :: friendly chuckle ::

He hit .214/.319/.393 which, park-adjusted, gave him a 96 wRC+ or 90 OPS+.  Since when is a 90 bat a washout at shortstop?

SS's last year who clocked in below 96:  Semien in Oakland, Brandon Crawford, Alcides Escobar, etc ... only 12 clubs had regular shortstops over that figure.  Oh by the way Jean Segura had performances of 67 and 64 at ages 24 and 25.

*I'm* not making Crawford's age-23 cup of coffee the be-all and end-all but if you were going to, his showing was fine.  BaseballHQ calls him a "pedigreed shortstop" with some growing to do.  I don't think they're based in Seattle.

.....

He'll be up in six weeks, right around there, and we're likely to have a lot of fun watching him over the next several years.  There is a Dustin Ackley scenario but there is also a Jean Segura (plus) scenario.  His OBP skills at a glove position make him a very high-floor player.

5

LOL.  You may be right, or I may be right--or he could wind up somewhere in the middle.  Time will tell.

But I'm musing over your comment that he's a "high floor" player...when his floor is already so low!  :)

6

1. Is it OK if I start rooting for Ryon Healy now? I'm pleased that Vogs is on the 25/28/30-man roster; I was all ready for Healy to be sent down. Now... how convenient that he can just fit into Kyle Seager's 3B glove! (And, that he has started to swing the bat- 2HRs in his last three games!) Will we remember Seager as the modern-day Wally Pipp? (We can dream!) 

2. If Mallex Smith keeps one of the 28-man places, then we have to not suit up 3, and then cut six to save him a place. I expect the six will include Ichiro, Bishop, Lobaton (although they're not giving up on him just yet), Rumbelow, Festa, and Milone (my biggest 31-man roster surprise!) 

3. Does Ichiro play in the OF- 1 or 2 games- 0r content himself with DHing? I hear the Tokyo Dome has a small OF. (Could that have factored into their planning, about playing there in March, and making this Ichiro's "swan song"?) 

4. I'd like to see Braden Bishop get a runaround- even if he comes in only to play defense for Ichiro. 

5. Along with Healy, Jay Bruce's bat has picked up, big time, in the past few days. 

6. Agreed- still waiting to see "vintage" Edwin. He has to play himself into a trade- we can't expect the Yankees to offer to take him off our hands, if he's not hitting!

7. The Mariners are setting themselves up to have a really strong group of LH starting pitchers- Marco, YK, with Sheffield on the way, and Elias looking great. And Leblanc is holding his own. Which was the last MLB team to include 4 southpaws among their starting five? Has any MLB team ever started five (5) leftys?

8. After Smith, we have three injured RPs and a 3B coming back. Who goes to make way for them? If our bullpen looks really srong in April and May, do we use 1-2 RPs as "sweetners" for someone taking Edwin's or Bruce's contract (as, perhaps, we did with Nicasio and Pazos)? (Is it possible that our bullpen could "look really strong in April and May"?!)

9. Will be very interesting- to me, who follows these things- to see where each of our "stud" milb players is allocated. We keep hearing about the super outfields in West Virginia (still snow in the outfield?) and Arkansas (Lewis, Fraley, DTW). Who ends up in Modesto and Tacoma? (Tacoma outfield looks like Bishop, Miller and Polo; infleid includes Negron, Crawford, Long and Curletta? Catchers are Lobaton and Nola; rotation must include Sheffield, Swanson, Milone, and who else?) 

10. With Gamel traded for Santana, Haniger still on the roster, Seager out for 2-3 months, Beckham filling in for Crawford, and Santana traded for Encarnacion- suddenly the batting order looks a lot less left-handed than it seemed around Christmas. We're up against RHSPs in Japan, so perhaps we start Vogs at 1B and Bruce at DH- or, vice versa- but we'll have a fair mix of LH (Narvaez, Gordon, Ichiro) and RH (Healy), bats to draw from. 

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