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Posts Tagged ‘Carl Crawford’


I had the expectation that the Red Sox could make the playoffs. I saw many of the issues from 2012 resolved by the changes that the front office made. They got some guys known to love playing the game, and able to grind out at bats. The previous season they lost plate discipline. I expected the starters to return to much better form than they exhibited the previous year. I can’t see Lester and Buchholz having lost it. Guys can just have bad years, and when there is turmoil in the club house it is hard to focus on your job. So, I expected both the pitching and hitting to be better.

I didn’t expect a World Series. As the season developed, I saw it as a distinct possibility particularly after soundly beating the Tigers and Dodgers late in the season. I was encouraged in that they didn’t have any big losing streaks.

I was also encouraged by their resiliency. They survived after Clay’s rather inexplicable injury. They survived season-ending injures to the 2 men competing to be the closer: Hanrahan and Bailey. It was disconcerting to see Miller also go down with an injury, but they had enough depth to deal with his loss in the bull pen. It was Pedroia, in my mind, that set the pace for the team. He suffered a thumb injury in the season opener and kept playing. His power numbers were down, but he still hit for average and still played exceptional defense, earning a Gold Glove award.

A tragedy like the Marathon bombings could have distracted them. In this case it drew them together and provided them with additional motivation. Some analysts have said they took off after this, but they were playing great ball with great results before the Patriots’ Day tragedy and the following hysteria until the brothers were killed and captured by authorities.

One concern was their hitting against the elite pitchers, particularly lefties. Sometimes funny things happen and the Red Sox ended up facing 3 of the best pitching staffs in the Rays, Tigers and Cardinals in the playoffs. Not an easy assignment. Thankfully the Red Sox had a pretty good staff of their own. Ellsbury carried them offensively in the first round. Papi was a consistent force in the last 2 rounds. There were surprising contributions from Gomes, Victorino and Napoli who struggled offensively. They had just enough offense to win these pitching battles.

It ended up being a very satisfying.

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Hindsight is always 20-20. Not really, as I consider responses to various events in our nation’s recent history. But it is easier to see where you went wrong because you see what went wrong.

Sometimes the warnings were there all along, and you ignored them. I think the Red Sox ignored some warning signs, and made some moves that resulted in their worst season since 1966, or the first full season for which I was alive.

First, they ignored warning signs regarding Carl Crawford’s health. I really like Carl Crawford as a player. I did not see him as a good fit for the Red Sox despite obvious talent. What I couldn’t know since I didn’t see medical reports was the linger issues with his wrist and elbow that were waiting to implode. He missed the beginning of the season after wrist surgery, and he missed the end as his elbow fell apart requiring Tommy John surgery right after being traded away.

This meant that the Red Sox had reserves playing left field most of the season, and when Crawford was in there, he was afraid to throw. They suffered defensively and offensively. It is one of the reasons they had 31 different position players take at bats in 2012.

Second, they ignored the warning signs about Bobby Valentine. I hated the hire. For a few days in Spring Training I thought I might be wrong. But I wasn’t. Soon Bobby was being Bobby, which means making clubhouse issues public, arguing with the media and a host of other distractions that players don’t need. When the injury crisis hit, Bobby wasn’t protecting players but stirring up more stuff.

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Photo by Christopher Evans

As many have noted, the Red Sox have hit the reset button on the team. The unthinkable happened as many people’s grandest dreams have been fulfilled; Beckett is gone and so is Crawford’s albatross of a contract.

I’ve been on record for not liking the Crawford deal, even before it happened. I hoped it would work out. It hasn’t. He is (was?) a very talented guy. But the burden of the contract, and Boston, worked against him. Even in a recent interview, he couldn’t avoid talking about being a $20 million/year man.

In Tampa, the expectations were not high. The team hadn’t left the basement of the AL East until 2008. So Carl only played on a winner for 2 years, and no one expected them to be any good. The Ravine will be more to his liking. People show up late and leave early. What they really care about is the Lakers. The Dodgers? Eh.

Beckett remarkably exhausted all of the good will from 2007 and what should have been in 2008. He was dominant last year until late August. And never recovered. Worse, he didn’t seem to accept any responsibility (unlike Lester), continued to do stupid things (unlike Lester) and continued to stink (unlike Lester). He probably has some injuries, but significantly he’s lost velocity on his fastball (not a good sign going forward). Dodger fans got a taste of our frustration as Beckett gave up a home run to the first batter he faced in Blue.

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Who’d of thought he’d be such a huge loss?

Since I can’t find my copy of Four Views of the Book of Revelation in order to cover the 3rd view, I’ll consider sports. I’ve been meaning to work on this post for a few weeks, but haven’t had the free time and mental space. You may think I still don’t have the mental space for it.

I want to consider a similarity between the Boston Red Sox and the Boston Celtics: injuries. The point being how injuries have derailed the last few seasons for both teams. Sports teams are really fragile things. There are times when teams can survive and even thrive during a rash of injuries. The Green Bay Packers did this to win the Superbowl in 2011. Those instances are rare. Most often, the depth of a team is tried and then depleted. Hopes vanish and dreams are squashed.

The Celtics won the NBA title in 2008 and seemed poised to win a few more before the New Big Three fell apart. But injuries have continually derailed that hope, and Celtics fans are disappointed. In 2009 it was Kevin Garnett’s various injuries that left them depleted. Without him they nearly beat the Magic to advance in the playoffs, but it was not to be. A healthy KG, and the Celtics go to the Finals. The next year, KG was not healthy, but was playing. They made it to the Finals against the Lakers. Then, in Game 6, Perkins blew out his knee. His presence in that abysmal Game 7, the film of which should be burned for the sake of both teams, may have made a significant difference. We won’t know. But the Lakers did triumph.

Then there was last year. KG was healthy, but there was the big trade that sent Perkins packing for 2 players. He was still not right, but the emotional toll on the team seemed too big. Both O’Neals had injury problems. Until the playoffs. They put it together after their late season skid. They made it to the conference finals against the arrogant Miami Heat who hope to win 7-8 titles in their imaginations (Father, may it not even be one- oppose the proud!). In a painful moment caught on film, D-Wade pulled down Rondo while falling. Really cheap play, and their series this season against the Pacers shows they are inclined toward the cheap plays. Rondo’s dislocated elbow sunk the Celtics. He valiantly tried to play, but with only one functioning arm, his defense was a liability. That moment dashed the Celtics hopes.

We felt his pain.

The Red Sox are in a similar state of affairs. They won the World Series in 2007. Despite injuries to Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell, the Red Sox made it all the way to the AL Championship against new rivals the Rays in their first ever play off appearance. Beckett pitched, but was a shell of himself. So close, but they fell in 7 to the Rays who would get handled easily in the World Series. Oh, for a healthy Beckett or Lowell. Just one would have tipped the scales enough. Just one.

2009 was just a mess for the Red Sox. It is a blur of injuries in the last few months that sunk a promising season. I have erased it from my memory.

2010 looked so promising. In the opening weeks they lost Ellsbury and Mike Cameron for essentially the season. Beltre not only provided power to the line up but single-handedly destroyed the outfield.  The only remaining starting outfielder was J.D. Drew, and we all know he’s good for a few trips to the DL. Daniel Nava and Darnell McDonald came out of nowhere to provide some spark. But then the injuries began to mount up- Youkilis, Pedroia, Martinez. So many injuries to key players- there were done. D-O-N-E.

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This was not the collapse some of the economists have been predicting.  But it felt as devastating.  The team that had the best record in May-August utterly fell apart.  They went from leading the division to not making the playoffs in the course of a month.

There are plenty of people pointing fingers. I’ve read some ridiculous statements.  I’m going to try and put all this together so it makes sense- not sensationalistic headlines.

Issues of payroll are utterly irrelevant.  I don’t care how much a guy is being paid, if he’s hurt he can’t help the team.  So the size of the Red Sox payroll is ultimately irrelevant in this discussion.  You also can’t look at the roster on paper.  You have to see the roster that can actually suit up.

I refuse to point the finger at Theo or Francona.  At the trade deadline the Sox were in an enviable position.  People were largely singing their praises.  Only hindsight is 20/20, so don’t blame them for not having the gift of prophecy.

The seeds of the collapse were sown in Spring Training with Felix Doubront showing up out of shape.  The team had high hopes for him, and he was positioned to be the spot starter like Lester and Buchholz had been before him.  His job was to be ready.  He wasn’t, and suffered a number of injuries.  The depth they had at pitching took its first hit.  And a big hit since they would be forced to rely on the inconsistent Miller and overmatched Weiland.  This would cost them critical games.

It's lonely when you lose

Ryan Kalish’s injury was also pretty big.  Reddick was the guy who ended up filling in for the injured Drew.  He’s streaky, the book says, and he proved it.  He was on fire when he came up.  But down the stretch he struggled horribly.  A healthy Kalish, the heir apparent to right field before the season, would have made a big difference.  But it was not to be (and THAT, my friends, is part of what A-Gon was trying to say).

Diva-K’s injury seemed like a boon at first.  He was horrible!  But if his arm wasn’t messed up, he would’ve been better.  Instead we got a loveable but too old Wakefield and his quest for 200 wins.  It became a source of instability in the rotation.  Combine that with John (S)lackey’s ever deteriorating performance and the 4th and 5th spots on the rotation gave the Sox next to nothing.  Not even innings since no one when deep into games.

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The allegation over the winter was that the Red Sox had become the Yankees.  They are perceived as in the Yankees’ league.  But I think that despite the fact that the Red Sox are in the upper tier, yet again, no one is in the Yankees’ league.  Here is the Top 5:

1. Yankees $202,689,028
2. Phillies $172,976,379
3. Red Sox $161,762,475
4. Angels $138,543,166
5. White Sox $127,789,000

The Red Sox are not 2nd in salary.  The Phillies have that distinction.  And they are the only team from the AL in the top 5.  Don’t worry, it balances itself out.  3 of the 5 teams with the lowest payrolls are AL teams.

The Yankees are spending about $41 million more than the Red Sox.  That is great than the payroll of 2 teams, the Rays and the Royals.  The Mets, ranking 7th, are spending $43 million less than the Red Sox.  So, in context, the Sox aren’t in the Yankees’ league regarding payroll.  The Yankees spend far and away more than anyone else.

Note some specifics as well.  Among the top 20 players in salary (Crawford would be there if you include his signing bonus), the Yankees have A-Rod, CC, Tex (in the top 5) and Burnett.  The Red Sox only have 1, Beckett who comes in at 19th.  This means the Red Sox spread out their salary a bit more than the Yankees.  The Yankees will pay A-Rod, CC & Tex just over $79 million dollars.  That is more money than the payrolls of 12 teams.  Yes, 12 teams have lower payrolls.  Toss in Burnett and it is $96 million.  This more than the payroll of 18 teams, 18!

Yes, the Red Sox are one of the teams that spend the most.  But no one spends like the Yankees.

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It was a roller coaster ride for Red Sox fans this weekend.  At one point they were staring into the abyss, thinking the 2011 was utterly sunk.

Picture This in Fenway!

Thursday night the Red Sox and San Diego Padres reached a deal to trade Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes for the long lusted after Adrian Gonzalez (A-Gon).  The Padres got top prospects in Kelly and Rizzo.  Sox fans have been hyping Kelly’s skills since he was drafted.  He still projects by many scouts to end up a #2 or 3 starter on a competitive team.  Rizzo has displayed the ability to hit at a high level, though there are still some pitches he struggles with at times.  He is a very good defensive first baseman.  I think he has more promise at this point than Lars Anderson has demonstrated.  I was really hoping they’d send Lars west, but was disappointed.  So, the Padres should see these guys in the Bigs in 2012.  Fuentes, if he makes it, will be later.

The Sox have coveted A-Gon for years for good reason.  He has lots of power and still hits for a high average.  Considering he hit well in a pitcher’s park, his power and average should only increase in Fenway.  Unlike Big Papi, he’s not a pull hitter.  He uses all of the field, and many of his hits are to left field.  Lots of his outs too.  But those outs will hit or fly over the Monster.

In previous seasons he struggled against lefties.  But in 2010, the light bulb went on and he hit better against lefties than righties.  One theory is that his shoulder injury forced him to use a lighter bat so he was able to wait abit longer before beginning his swing (hey, Papi & Drew- worth a shot).

He’s also a very good defender at first base.

Credit to Theo, who keeps a tight lid on things like this.  He like to work quietly.  Rumors were coming out about talks, but word of the actual trade didn’t come out until Saturday.  Which is part of what created the scenario.

BUT ….. the Red Sox only had until 2 pm today to work out an extension with A-Gon.  If you are going to give up 2 top tier prospects, you want more than one season of a guy regardless of how good he is.  And they started the process VERY far apart.  He reportedly wanted Texiera money.  He is THAT good, people.  But the Red Sox are reluctant to sign ANYONE to an 8 year deal.  Especially since he had shoulder surgery this off season.

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