Tempering Your Expectations on a Carl Crawford Comeback: A Fantasy Baseball Fan’s Take

On the one hand, the news coming out of Fort Myers, Fla. wasn't devastating for Carl Crawford but it was hardly what fantasy owners wanted to hear regarding the balky wrist of the embattled outfielder.

Carl Crawford may not be available opening day 2012 due to complications from wrist surgery.
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As a result of inflammation on his surgically repaired left wrist, Carl Crawford will be shut down for approximately one week. Speculation is high that Crawford will certainly be unavailable for opening day.

The Crawford file

Carl Crawford signed with the Boston Red Sox prior to the 2011 baseball season. His 7-year deal is worth at least $142 million. Elite money for a player the Red Sox were counting on heavily to be an offensive catalyst.

Yet he hardly performed to elite levels. Crawford finished the 2011 campaign with a .255/11/56/65/18 (130 GP; 506 ABs) line. To put his year in perspective, consider Jeff Francoeur (a good player, hardly a fantasy darling) posted .285/20/87/77/22 numbers. That news is enough to make Crawford owners reach for the bottle of Jacks.

Crawford may be only 30 years of age, yet his decline is anything but subtle considering he averaged 103 runs scored and 54 SBs in his last two years at Tampa Bay.

Crawford is a career .293 hitter.

Where should Crawford be drafted?

Given his decline in production combined with the news of his lingering wrist issues, it is difficult to recommend Carl Crawford as anything more than a fourth outfielder with tremendous upside. At 30, it is way too early to consider him finished as a solid fantasy pick-up, yet he is a high risk, high reward outfielder at this stage. Like the Brewers Corey Hart or the Braves Jason Heyward, the potential is outstanding yet the risk of injury makes drafting these players a chance you should most likely let other owners assume.

In considering other Red Sox outfielders, the only viable fantasy option is Jacoby Ellsbury who is coming off an awesome season (.321/32/105/119/39). Do not expect him to escape the second round in standard ten-man leagues. The remaining outfield candidates (Ryan Kalish, Darnell McDonald, Cody Ross, and Ryan Sweeney) will not be fantasy relevant.

Sources: Yahoo! Sports

espn.com

usatoday.com

Robert Watkins is a twenty year fantasy baseball veteran who is a frequent contributor to Yahoo! Sports and News.

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Updated Tuesday, Mar 6, 2012