Carl Crawford played his first games of the season this week. He has looked fantastic in those games. I know my fantasy team had gotten a huge boost from his return. (And Ellsbury’s too.) He’s doing everything Red Sox fans hoped he’d do when he was signed. He’s doing it from the number two spot in the order too. Some people, including Crawford, think that spot in the order might have something to do with it. That had drawn the ire of some fans.
It shouldn’t matter where he’s batting. We’re giving this guy 100 million dollars! He should bat wherever Valentine wants him to, and just hit. If he’s in the seven spot, he needs to suck it up and perform. His only job is to help the team. But, there are a few flaws with that argument. The first one is that it always stops too soon. If the theory is that we’re paying him 100 million dollars so he should hit wherever we put him, why does that theory end with the batting order. What if Valentine said, “We’re paying this guy 100 million dollars. We seem to have a lot of outfielders on the team at the moment. But, Lester’s been struggling. So we need to have Crawford pitch. I know he’s never done that before. But, like I said, he’s making 100 million dollars. He’ll just have to suck it up and throw that curve ball.” That would be ludicrous. Why is it any different to force him to bat in a spot he’s not used to?
Come on, you say, we’re just talking about a line-up shift here. He should be able to deal with that. Well, if a player should just produce no matter where they bat, why does it matter where you put Crawford? Why does it matter where you put Pedroia? Why not hit Crawford second and Pedroia sixth? If it doesn’t matter, why does it matter so much?
The real answer should be, “We’re paying Crawford 100 million dollars. Why are we asking him to do something different than what he did to earn that 100 million?” If the Lakers get Dwight Howard, are they going to make him play point guard? Of course not. They’re trying to get him because he’s an elite center. When a company hires a new CEO, do they put him on the line in the cafeteria? That would be crazy. They’re paying him millions because he has elite skills to run a company. Not make creamed corn. Nobody’s telling him, “For all that money, you’ll work wherever we tell you to.” They hired a guy with a specific set of skills, so they put him in the position that uses those skills.
It’s the same thing with Crawford. The Red Sox chased after him because he was an elite talent. He could set the table at the top of the order. He could drive pitchers crazy. He made it easier for everyone else hitting behind him. He made the team better from that two-spot.
Why would you put him anywhere else?