What is with this guy? I protected him from last year at a very good price in an AL only league. Things seemed to be going okay in the spring, we were all eagerly anticipating his first appearance in the outfield. Then the nagging little hamstring injury that "might" keep him out of the opening day lineup. Then it was the first week, now it's the first 6 weeks and it sounds like it's not getting any better. Enough already!! I though he was quoted as saying that he could have played that first week but sat out for precaution.
Okay, rant over.
Update: Baldelli's minor league rehab assignment and subsequent return from the DL have been pushed back, following him reporting new soreness in his hamstring on Friday, the Rays' official site reports.
Recommendation: Baldelli was originally expected off the DL on May 5, but that won't happen now. A new date can't be set until the team knows when he can begin his minor league rehab assignment. "It's not a huge setback," Baldelli said. "It still feels pretty good. It just doesn't feel 100 percent."
They're good numbers. But they're Aaron Rowand numbers, not Carl Crawford numbers.
So why is everyone so high on him? I think it's expectations. There seems to be this feeling that he should be a regular 20-20 guy. There's a few problems running against that line of thinking, though:
1. His peripherals suggest he doesn't hit that well. His 32 and 27 doubles in his last two campaigns suggest he's hitting about as many homers now as he is likely to (i.e., the 5 less doubles in 2004 fell in for jacks). He strikes out three times for every time he walks. Yes, he's only 25; but every season he's injured counts against him developing the experience he needs to add pop to his bat and develop major-league plate discipline.
2. He probably doesn't run as well as his steal totals suggest. He was caught 10 times (out of 37 attempts) in 2003, although there was a marked improvement in 2004. If he isn't the 2004 version, he won't get the go-ahead; and
3. Goes without saying, but you have to play to be a regular asset. I think Baldelli's ship has sailed for now. Check back in a few months.
See, this is what I'm talking about. Expectations are way too high.
So, Baldelli's 24. Youth is an asset; I won't argue with that. But let's look at your Crawford-Baldelli comparison.
Crawford numbers by age:
Age 21 .281 80 5 54 55
Age 22 .296 104 11 55 59
Age 23 .301 101 15 81 46
Baldelli numbers by age:
Age 21 .289 89 11 78 27
Age 22 .280 79 16 74 17
Age 23 Did Not Play (Injured)
To me, their playing records are not even close. Even at age 21, Crawford was a top-20 man, while Baldelli would be drafted in the tenth round. That doesn't make Baldelli a bad player. As I said, he's a talented guy.
But your own argument demonstrates that Baldelli's probably not going to be a Carl Crawford, as everyone seems to expect. He'll probably be what he is: a very good all-rounder.