Red Sox Sign Carl Crawford
By Brian Phair
What an off-season for the Boston Red Sox. First, they work out a blockbuster deal to bring Adrian Gonzalez to Fenway and now they agree to a 7-year, $142 million deal with free agent outfielder Carl Crawford. According to Peter Abraham, the deal was done Wednesday night and the only things left to be done are agree on some guaranteed language and get a physical done. The massive deal stole Crawford from the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, who were both considered to be actively in the hunt for the outfielder. The Angels were considered the favorites and the Yankees met with Crawford and his agent this week, so it was looking less and less likely the Sox would shell out the big money to bring him in, but what a difference a few hours can make. This move solidifies the Sox lineup for 2011 and makes them one of the best lineups in all of baseball.
I imagine even the most optimistic Red Sox fans didn’t expect a lineup of Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Marco Scutaro in 2011. Wow…it’s just one great hitter after another, putting constant pressure on the opposition. Their lineup will be heavily lefty-focused, but with the Sox likely to sit Big Papi most days when a lefty is pitching, it will create some nightmare pitching match-ups for bullpens around the league. It will also likely push the Yankees to go hard after lefty Cliff Lee in order to properly match-up with the BoSox. They will probably be sure to have at least a few lefty specialists ready in the ‘pen when the Sox come to town as well.
The interesting thing about the Sox being lefty-focused is how deceiving that really is on paper. Last season, Adrian Gonzalez hit better against lefties than righties, posting a .337 average against them and a .278 average against righties. Because of that, the Sox breakdown of 3 righties, 5 lefties and a switch-hitter, is actually more-balanced than it appears. This ain’t your father’s Red Sox, it’s the new-age, lefty-driven, massive contract Sox who have speed, power and a high-degree of intelligence on the base paths. Who would have thought we would be sitting here discussing the “problem” of having too many lefties in the lineup, all of which can hit for average and power?
This move just proves that anything is possible. It appeared the Sox were slipping out of the Crawford race a few days ago, only to shock the world with another massive deal. Hopefully the Sox still have the available budget to bring in a top reliever or two, because that is the only weakness in the club right now with the outfield vacancy filled.