Gold Glove Award winners have been announced over the last two days. While some players are not surprises at all, some players are likely to use their awards to help them cash in. Agents are tricky dudes and will use anything as leverage. With an emphasis on defense taking hold of the Majors, Derek Jeter and Carl Crawford will probably use these awards to increase their 2011 paydays.
Derek Jeter needed this one. The Captain is aging (previous post) but is apparently aging well. Despite clearly losing a step (or two) over the past few seasons in the Bronx, Jeter won yet another Gold Glove. If you're privy to metrics like UZR, they Jeter's new award might be a surprise. He's not listed in the top half of AL shortstops according to the Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR). His fielding percentage is fantastic but we have to ask why. His range is clearly limited and he can't make some of the throws he used to. So why does he win? Because of the balls he does get to, he makes the right play and is almost never given an error. This is kind of like Kobe or LeBron not given fouls. This artificially inflates his feilding percentage and because he's a modern baseball icon, he get the Gold Glove. As Jeter works to finalize a free agent deal to keep in in New York, expect him, or his agent, to claim "he still plays Gold Glove defense" and try to parlay that into a few more million dollars on his contract.
Carl Crawford didn't exactly need this one. Its not like he's complaining, but compared to Jeter, this didn't much matter. Crawford is going to sign the deal of a lifetime in the next few months, whether he won a Gold Glove for his defense or not. He's the most talented position player available and is going to cash in huge this offseason. Crawford is a standout left fielder, however. Why is he so much better than his brethren? Most left fielders are old, overweight, slightly unathletic and often a combination of all three. Manny Ramirez, anyone? Crawford is an athletic specimen who has the speed and range to play center field but his arm keeps him in left (think: Juan Pierre). Therfore, he stands tall above the competition by default. While Mr. Crawford clearly doesn't need the help, expect him and his representatives to use the defense angle drive the price amongst the teams that are expected to bid on him (Angels, Red Sox, Tigers, Braves, etc). The team that values his defense most might be the one who is willing to outbid the competition.
Gold Gloves aren't a science. They are voted on and the results are subject to massive debate. Either way, two players are expected to utilize their 2010 Gold Gloves to garner them some extra cash this winter. When they do, call it a "Golden Payday."