Like Leslie Knope and FDR, I enjoy a good acronym. They look nice and are a lot of fun to create. Today’s choice, while still a lot of fun to put together, is not too pleasing for Dodgers’ fans. C.C.C.C.. If you have been following the Dodgers at all this season, then the four letters should jump right out at you. Carl Crawford’s Contract Catastrophe. Beginning today, all Crawford references will use the C.C.C.C moniker, if for no other reason than to minimize word count.
It has not been an altogether impressive first month of the season for C.C.C.C. He is batting a paltry .195/.221/.305, with one home run and eight RBIs. Versus left handed pitching, C.C.C.C. has a .063 batting average, after coming off of a season in which he hit just .206 against lefties in 2013. Last season he hit a terrific .308/.351/.796 against right handed pitching, suggesting at the this point in his career, C.C.C.C. is trending towards being a platoon player. The only problem with that is most platoon players are not being paid $20 million.
C.C.C.C. is owed $82.5 million through 2017. This year alone he is making $20.25 million. At the beginning of the year, FanGraphs estimated that teams were willing to pay $6 million per Win Above Replacement (WAR). As of this moment, C.C.C.C. has a WAR of -.6. Last year, he finished the season with a WAR of 1.7. Obviously, if you are a believer in advanced metrics, C.C.C.C. is not living up to his contract…by only about $14 million.
The question then is how the Dodgers should utilize him? This may sound insane, but maybe the answer is not to. Maybe at this point the Dodgers should view C.C.C.C. as a sunken cost and cut their losses. Under normal circumstances, I would understand the scoffing, and the muttering of the “this guy has no idea what he is talking about” act that I am sure you are going through right now. However, the Dodgers do not operate under normal circumstances. They have the highest payroll in the history of Major League Baseball. C.C.C.C.’s contract is something they are stuck with. Given the amount of money owed, and his performance to start the year, not many teams are going to knock Ned Coletti’s door down to trade for him, even if the Dodgers eat a large chunk of the salary. And if they were going to do that, why not just cut ties altogether? Believe me, there would be benefits in doing this.
First and foremost, the outfield carousel needs to stop to give players regular playing time. It is a nice thought to have four Major League starters for three positions, playing musical chairs depending on the matchup. The Dodgers do not have four starting caliber outfielders though, they have five. Scott Van Slyke has been crushing the ball this year (mostly against left handed pitching) and has a ludicrous 1.112 OPS. His emergence in the outfield makes C.C.C.C. all the more expendable. With Crawford out of the picture, the Dodgers could play Matt Kemp in center, Yasiel Puig in right and could have an effective platoon with Andre Ethier and Van Slyke in left, without costing the team a dollar more than if C.C.C.C. was still in the fold.
What if there are injuries you ask? Afterall, Kemp hasn’t played a full season since 2011 and Puig is liable to get hurt after every swing and miss. Would they miss C.C.C.C.? Not with Joc Pederson waiting in the wings. Pederson is off to a red hot start in AAA Albuquerque hitting .376/.485/1.127 with 7 HRs, 15 RBI, and 9 SB in 11 attempts. All indications are that he is ready for the next step, but currently the Dodgers have 5 outfielders blocking his path. Having C.C.C.C. kicked off the island would provide one more roster spot. And for what it is worth, FanGraphs projects Pederson to be worth 2.6 WAR at the Major League level, outperforming both C.C.C.C. this year and last.
Another added benefit to dumping C.C.C.C. is that it would allow Ethier more consistent playing time, and the possibility that regular playing time might increase his production. If Ethier is able to put up numbers close to his 2012 season, he could be trade bait come July. A trade where the Dodgers relinquish Andre would then give the Dodgers perhaps their best four man outfield, with Kemp, Puig, Van Slyke and Pederson.
In the end, the Dodgers could get rid of C.C.C.C. and still throw out a very competitive lineup without adding costs. Again, C.C.C.C.’s contract is here to stay through 2017 and it will be on the books no matter what. Adding Pederson to the outfield mix would cost the Dodgers the league minimum in salary, the equivalent of adding fuzzy dice to the rear view mirror of a Rolls Royce. In addition, Pederson would be playing his first three years at or right around the league minimum, about the same amount of time that C.C.C.C. has left on his deal.
The Dodgers ownership group showed they were willing to do whatever it took to turn this team around when they took over in 2012. They made a ballsy trade with both the Marlins and Red Sox. They invested $100 million in Dodgers Stadium renovations and spent some big time money on Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. Now it is time to put all that money where their mouth is. Because right now, to put the best team on the field, it means saying goodbye to C.C.C.C. and his $82.5 million. Let’s be honest, the Rolls doesn’t need a new paint job for a couple of years anyway.