Inside Mr. Met's Head

September 10, 2009 3:31 PM

Odds of Landing Crawford, Fielder Slim to None

Carl Crawford's name has been thrown around lately for being a potential option for the Metropolitians in left field. He is an excellent defender (13.2 UZR/150 in LF), a good hitter (.813 OPS), and is very fast (56 stolen bases this season). He would definitely have a sizable impact on the Mets considering his Wins Above Replacement is 5.0 and creates 90 or more runs a season. He is exactly the kind of player the Mets need to add to their team.

Prince Fielder is another popular name. There have been reports that he is unhappy with his contract situation in Milwaukee even though he just signed a 2 year/$18 million contract. His impact on the Mets would be even more substantial than Crawford's. A huge power hitter with a good petigree, Fielder is an absolute monster at the plate. His OPS is over 1.000 and has a higher WAR than Crawford even though his defense is lacking (-0.9 UZR/150). He would be the savior to the Mets 1B hitting woes and would be a shot in the arm for their stagnant offense.

There's only one problem: the Mets cannot and will not acquire Carl Crawford or Prince Fielder. It's never, ever happening barring bizarre circumstances.

Let's look at the situation. The Rays recently traded Scott Kazmir to the Angels in a salary dump. Rays GM Andrew Friedman confirmed that, saying that while saving money was not the "primary motivating factor" he did admit that the trade was party because of money. According to an article in the St. Petersburg Times, Friedman said, "This is what we do and have to do to balance the now and the future." It is not a impossibility that the trade occured to save money to resign Crawford. 

Nonetheless, Crawford may end up being traded in the future. He has a $8.25 million option this season with a $2.5 million buyout. In 2010, the option becomes 10 million. The Rays are notorious penny pinchers. They may figure that Crawford no longer fits into their future plans.

Even if that does end up happening, don't assume that the Mets are going to acquire him. The Rays would have to be absolutely brain dead to just let him walk. More importantly, the Mets simply do not have the prospects to land Crawford or Fielder through trade, assuming the Rays pick up his option. The Mets just don't have the pieces to give these teams to make a trade worthwhile. It's fun to talk about potential players being on the team but to believe for one minute that either of these superstars could ever be acquired is flat out fantasy. 

Who do the Mets trade to get Crawford or Fielder? Here's some popular names and why they wouldn't work:

Trading Jose Reyes could potentially be one of the biggest mistakes in baseball history. You simply do not trade a superstar shortstop in his prime, especially when his value is lower due to injury. It just doesn't make sense. From 06-08 his wRC was more than 100. His BABIP is not inflated so essentially his batting average is right on line. His OPS in 06 and 08 were both over .800. His WAR has consistently been over 5 (bordering on 6 in 08). This is not a player you trade. In fact, according to his career WAR arguably he's actually more valuable than both Crawford and Fielder. Yes, Sabermetrics don't tell the full story about his rumored laziness or other important "intangibles" he may or may not be lacking but to be honest disputing statistics and relying on anecdotal evidence to tell a story about a player leads to things like trading Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano.  

Fernando Martinez has been just about untouchable since he joined the Mets organization back in 2005. He has been groomed to be the future of the franchise and to give up on him now when his stock is the lowest (just like Reyes) is absurd. If he wasn't included in the Johan Santana trade he's definitely not going to packaged for Crawford or Fielder. 

Jon Niese is coming off a substantial leg injury (complete tear of the hamstring). He also has a 3.23 FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching, a stat that helps understand how well a pitcher did regardless of how good the defense is behind him) which is very good. There is no reason to trade him. The Mets need quality pitchers next season, a hole that Niese could fill if he is healthy. Second, there's zero trade value in an injured prospect. 

Brad Holt and Jenrry Mejia were both on John Sickel's top 10 Mets prospects list. Holt, 22, had a miserable 5.01 FIP in AA. His trade value has plummeted as well as his K/9 and HR numbers. Mejia turns 20 in one month and is very rough around the edges. His FIP is lower than his ERA (a product of poor minor league defense rather than pitching) and his strike outs are up but his walks are extremely high. Both Holt and Mejia may one day become good prospects but right now they are not the kind of players who can be traded for superstars.

Perhaps most important of all, teams know that the Mets are crippled and are desperate for players like Crawford or Fielder. They're going to ask for the moon and the Mets cannot supply it without further damaging the infrastructure of the franchise. Fans need to be realistic about the team the Mets are. The minor league system is mediocre at best and no major league GM is knocking down the door to trade top talent for the Mets' prospects. 

While it's a nice thought to imagine Crawford leading off or Fielder batting cleanup behind Beltran and in front of Wright, it would take an epic Faustian bargain to pull it off. 

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