When the Red Sox signed Carl Crawford in the fall of 2010 they expected to get a dynamic outfielder. What they got in 2011 fell far short of those expectations. The general consensus around baseball seemed to be that Crawford simply wasn’t comfortable in Boston yet and he would bounce back to being the player that he was in Tampa Bay. With Crawford shelved at the moment with a wrist injury, the question becomes “Will the former star be comfortable in 2012?”
Tim Kurkjian of ESPN spent a day in Red Sox camp and spoke about his experience on WEEI’s Mut & Merloni today. He said the following about Crawford.
I’m hopelessly positive about things, but I don’t think he’s in the right place right now — not meaning Boston. I mean, I think at this point he’s going to have a similar year to last year, as opposed to those really good years in Tampa Bay,” Kurkjian said. “As we know, this guy’s all about comfort, he’s all about trust. At least that’s what the Rays people have told me. And if he’s not comfortable and he doesn’t trust the people around him — meaning all the people around him — he’s not going to be the player that he needs to be.
I can honestly see where Crawford may have a problem trusting some of the guys in the clubhouse. The crap storm that followed the 2011 season really took a lot from this teams chemistry, but can his poor performance really be attributed completely to his comfort level or trust in his teammates? I don’t think it can.
I think the Red Sox need to focus on different areas of Crawford’s game. Starting with his batting stance. I understand that he was using the same stance during his All-Star years in Tampa but It simply didn’t work for him in 2011. It seems like I was constantly getting frustrated when he swung late pitch after pitch, or swung underneath a fastball in the zone. Maybe his bat speed declined just enough over the winter of 2010 to finally render this stance useless? It sure seemed like his mechanics were working against him all year so it’s a possibility.
There is also a chance that Crawford was dealing with more wrist problems than anyone knew about. The motive for keeping it quiet would have been understandable. Red Sox Nation was clearly frustrated with their new outfielder already so a significant loss of playing time could have put the fans over the edge.
Whatever the reason may be for Crawford’s disappointing season he will need to put it behind him when he returns. There’s quite some time left on that contract he signed making it vital that he gets healthy and comfortable to make an impact in 2012. What it will take, I’m not sure but hopefully it happens sooner rather than later.
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