The Red Sox have signed Carl Crawford, and you’d have to be a lobotomy patient or a Yankee fan not to like this deal.
Just days after trading for Adrian Gonzalez, the Sox signed the best position player on the market. And, just like that, inserted themselves as favorites heading into this season. In case you forgot, this is the team that won 89 games last year . . . without Gonzalez and Crawford, and without Youkilus, Pedroia and Ellsbury. AND, with Beckett and Lackey having sub-par years.
Forget losting Beltre and Martinez. Beltre’s entire miserable career has been a classic case of monumental underachievement. His best two seasons: Free agent years. Some poor sucker is going to sign him and condemn his team to mediocrity. Victor Martinez? A very good hitter, but a sub-par catcher whose best days are already behind him.
Forget the money. The Sox aren’t suddenly jacking up their payroll. In fact, with the money they had coming off the books, the price they’re paying for Gonzalez and Crawford is essentially a wash. And they have more money – including JD Drew’s ridiculous contract – coming off next season. This isn’t a case of the Sox suddenly spending a lot. This is a case of good fiscal management.
Forget that this team is lefty-heavy. Yeah, they have a lot of lefties. But, both Gonzalez and Crawford have good numbers against lefties. And, as mentioned earlier, the Sox have two right-handed MVP candidates coming back into their lineup in Youkilus and Pedroia.
Forget about the Yankees signing Cliff Lee. The Crawford deal appears to have made the Yankees overreact, and go up to a seven-year offer for Lee, which they stated they didn’t want to do. Seven-year deals for position players are one thing, as they are historically much more durable and consistent. Pitchers, on the other hand, are much less predictable, even when they are healthy. And they are always one-pitch away from a blown-rotator cuff. AND, while Lee has enjoyed an excellent couple of years, he’s also been plagued by injuries during his career. Seven years is too much for any pitcher. Don’t be surprised if Lee is good for the first two or three years of this contract, then is an anchor for the rest of it. And, even with a good Lee, you still have to like how the Red Sox starting rotation matches up with the Yankees, especially if Lackey and Beckett return to form.
Forget about the bullpen. Like it or not, it’s always a crapshoot. How often in recent years have we seen the Sox and other teams stock up on great relievers in the offseason, only to have them struggle in the season. Middle-relief is almost impossible to predict. You do your best, then make adjustments along the way. Throughout his tenure as Sox GM, Theo has had his issues with the bullpen, but he’s also shown a knack for being able to improve it during the season (last year not withstanding). The starting core is great, the back end with Paps and Bard is very good, and the middle WILL come together.
Considering how much better this 89-win Red Sox team looks, is it crazy to dream of a 100-win season already?
Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, your 2008 American League East Champions.
Yes, I know it isn’t official yet. But, c’mon, their magic number is one. Even if they don’t win another game, don’t think the Sox are going to sweep the Yanks in the season series finale. Yes, winning the division is important this year (as I’ve said many times). I’m not flip-flopping; just realizing that while it would have been great to win the division, Terry Francona isn’t going to burn out his players when he already has a playoff birth clinched. So, expect him to rest plenty of guys from here on out. And, you can expect the Yankees will take pleasure in trying to sink the Sox, a nice finishing-touch to an otherwise horribly disappointing season for The Bombers.
So congratulations to the Devil Rays. What they’ve accomplished in 2008 has been an amazing feat. For years I’ve wondered who would break the Yankee/Red Sox hold on the top of the division. The Jays squeezed into third twice since 1998, so I thought they had a chance (especially with their payroll). Also, I figured the once-mighty Orioles would eventually return to life. But the Devil Rays? Their talented-team has suddenly vaulted from a decade of futility to become an actual powerhouse in the American League.
So, today I will take the high-road and congratulate the Devil Rays. I will resist pointing out that despite having the most exciting, remarkable team of this baseball season, they can scarcely cobble together 20,000 fans to come see them play. I won’t mention that the hole they call a stadium is by far the worst place to play in baseball, or that it isn’t fit for a Class A franchise. I won’t say that Iwamura, Crawford and Gomes are punks or cheap-shot sissies for throwing haymakers at Coco Crisp while Dionner Navarro held him down. And I won’t even say anything about the weak, bush-league (even Angelsesque) move they made removing “Devil” from their team name. I might even refer to them as their appropriate name, the just Rays . . . . .
- Y’know, I’m starting to think the Devil Rays are for real this year.
- Sox fans have spent all year long looking at the Yankees behind us, and just waiting for the inevitable Tampa collapse. Now, with Tampa five games up on us in the loss column with just over a month to play, you have to start to wonder if the Sox can catch them. I mean, remember when Crawford and Longoria went on the DL and you thought, “First place, here we come”?
- Are the Jays really going to push the Yankees down to fourth place?
- Glad Daisuke won the other night. But I am so over these six-strikeout-five-walk-performances. Daisuke’s a very good pitcher, but it’s time to accept the fact he’s never going to be THAT pitcher. He’s certainly got The Stuff, but he does more nibbling than a lady in Amsterdam’s Red Light District.
- Glad to hear Yaz is doing well after his surgery. For those who might not remember his playing days, Yaz was one bad dude. Yeah, you know about the 1967 Triple Crown and Hall of Fame status. But when some naive fans take a look at his stats, they might be underwhelmed when comparing them to today. But keep in mind Yaz played his career at a time when pitchers ruled the game; not like how hitters rule today. He was an elite hitter, he was clutch. And he was a great and gutsy fielder willing to hurl himself onto the ground or into the wall to make a play. (Anyone remember him making a catch while knocking himself unconcious? True story.)
The Sox and Rays just had their fight . . .
- With Navarro pinning Coco Crisp down, Johnny Gomes runs over and starts reigning down haymakers on Coco. The Sox need to throw at Gomes’ head every time they see him this season. That was outrageous. He needs to be suspended and fined . . . but he also needs to take one off the helmet. I know that’s pretty serious, but it is certainly justified after that.
- Sure, Coco should have just gone to first. No doubt. But Gomes’ sucker punches were nuts.
- Coco’s dad was a boxer. You could see that. Beautiful how he slid away from Shields’ right and came back with a counterpunch. Didn’t land, but nice technique.
- Just saw the replays with Crawford punching Coco while Navarro, Gomes and Crawford where all on him. Instead of stopping the fight, they dropped bombs with three guys on one. Crawford needs to take a fastball in the kisser.
- Yes, I am less than rational right now, and I think my wife has stopped talking to me.