Last week we asked folks what they would do if they were named GM and if there was $20 million to play with. I was surprised at the number of folks that wanted Jason Bay. Now a week later and a little further into watching an outfield of Adam Lind, Vernon Wells and Travis Snider, I think the last thing we need is another outfielder with no range.
Right now, I'm more sure that the first thing I'd chase after would be a center fielder with range. A lot of range. I'd ask/tell Vernon that he is playing RF. He might not have the prototypical RFer arm but I'd rather a weaker arm there than him playing CF with no range. His lack of range is magnified by having guys on either side of him that can catch the ball if it is hit directly at them but not so much if they have to move a few feet to get the ball. Vernon has got to move to back up everything.
Of course, adding to the problem is the fact we don't really have a backup for Vernon. When was the last time he had a day off? Center fielders do a lot of running, the most running of anyone on the field, especially ones that have house plants playing either side of them. Vernon has to play every day. Who is the backup for CF? I'd guess Jose Bautista, but he's playing third (and what a defensive treat that is) with E5 on the DL. I'm guessing John McDonald would be the emergency CF or Mac would play 3B and Bautista would go into center. But I don't think either of them are a reasonable enough option to go Vernon a day off.
To be fair, Snider and Lind try, I think their effort is fine and if it were just one of them in the outfield we'd live with it, but with Ruiz DHing we can't hide one of them at that spot. Cito has talked about trying Ruiz in the outfield. I don't know, I mean, he tries and he really has surprised me with his 'speed'. More in that 'hey look, he's faster than Frank Thomas was' way than actually thinking he runs well, but I have been surprised by it. I'm warming more and more to the idea of getting Lind to learn to play first because watching catchable balls hit the ground in the outfield is less fun each time.
So who could we get? Of the likely free agents, Dave Mike Cameron's name stands out. He isn't young anymore but he can go get the ball with the best of them and his bat isn't bad with a 114 OPS+. He hasn't had an OPS+ under 100 in 11 years and will get you 20 to 25 home runs a year. I'd much rather sign him for the $6 or $7 million he would want than give $15 million to Jason Bay just to watch the line to play DH get longer.
Beyond him, the dream guy would be Carl Crawford. The Rays have an option on him next year, but odds are they can't pay everyone they have at the moment. Crawford is playing LF for the Rays but he has plenty of range for CF, maybe not so much the CFer arm but then you need to catch the ball before you worry about throwing it. It would take a pretty decent package to get Crawford in a trade but we do have an abundance of young pitching arms. Or maybe a three way deal in a Halladay trade? Yeah it's a likely pipe dream but he would so good in our outfield and in our batting order.
I'm sure there are other players that could be picked up in trade. If we are serious about trading Doc, why not make getting a good defensive CFer a priority in the package?
I guess if we did do this, the problem for next year would be finding a place for everyone one to play. Randy Ruiz is looking pretty good, at the moment. Lind and Snider have to play. Vernon isn't going anywhere. And Brian Dopirak is trying to force his way on to the team. I'm guessing we have to find a way to trade off Lyle Overbay. I know that would be losing another superior defensive player to make room for a lesser glove but I'd rather a poorer glove at first than 3 awful ones in the outfield.
Anyway, that's my feeling at the moment. Maybe it is clouded by watching so many soft hits fall over the last few days. Yesterday in particular. Maybe part of me is buying into the idea that if we took a little defensive pressure off Vernon his bat might come around. Or maybe I'm just seeing the obvious.
And yeah, the title lyrics are from a Dixie Chicks song, no I'm not proud, but it really did seem to fit.