Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The most difficult analysis in any off- season fantasy evaluation process is when players change teams. And 2011 was no different. One need only look at the Boston Red Sox two main winter acquisitions to see the predicament.
The Red Sox went about rebuilding their offense by getting what the thought was the best available leadoff/No.2 hitter in speedster Carl Crawford and a great No.3 hitter in Adrian Gonzalez.
One of these moves was a huge success, while the other player has been one of the season's biggest early season failures.
Crawford began the season so poorly that the Red Sox were forced to drop him from the top of the order. As late as May 5th, he was still batting below the .200 mark. He eventually went on to have a solid month of May, batting .304, but has slipped back in June. And the one feature which you could always count on from Crawford, the stolen base, has been lacking in 2011, with just eight steals against four caught stealing.
As we approach the summer solstice, Crawford has certainly not lived up to his preseason ADP of 11 - nor does he look like he's ready to turn it around any time soon. He's hitting a mediocre .265 over the last two weeks with an OPS of 0.758. And in the latest blow to his fantasy owners, Crawford left Friday night's game with an apparent hamstring injury.
Given this new bit of bad news, fantasy owners must be prepared for the Red Sox outfielder to put up numbers more like his 2008 season (.273, 69 runs, 8 HR, 57 RBI, OPS 0.718) than those of last season's impressive statistics (.307, 110 runs, 19 HR, 90 RBI, OPS 0.851).
If you can make a trade for Crawford and get a solid player in return, you should probably pull the trigger on the deal.
On the other hand, Gonzalez's fantasy owners are ecstatic.
The former Petco Park resident has flourished in the new, more hitter- friendly, confines of Fenway Park. Experts predicted that Gonzalez would love the "Green Monster" and they seem to have nailed this one. Gonzalez is batting a league-leading .352, also leads the league in RBIs with 62 and total bases (172), has scored 50 runs, hit 24 doubles and 15 homers.
Taken one spot behind Crawford on Draft Day, Gonzalez has been better than advertised and a bargain. Gonzalez even stole a base, matching his career high for a season. And while Crawford is stuck near the bottom of the Red Sox order, batting primarily in the eighth position, Gonzalez has thrived in the spot between Dustin Pedroia and a revitalized David Ortiz.
Based on Gonzalez's consistency since becoming a starter in 2006 (averaged .288, 32 HR, 100 RBI in his five seasons with the Padres) there is no reason to expect any kind of fall off over the next four months. You might receive some exciting offers for Gonzalez, but you should resist any temptation to trade him.