Part One: Determine the market for top free agent outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth.

191542.jpg

Part One: Determine the market for top free agent outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth.

1) Determine the market for top free agent outfielders Carl Crawford and Jayson Werth.

Since midseason, these two names have been inexorably linked to the Red Sox. Crawford offers speed, defense and athleticism while Werth would provide the Sox, increasingly lefthanded, with some righthanded sock.

But the Sox will have no shortage of competition for both. After two seasons in which spending has been down across the board, the expectation is that teams are ready to splurge again.

"When it's all said and done,'' said one baseball executive, "I think people are going to be shocked at how much both (Werth and Crawford) get. It's going to be insane.''

Another executive estimated that while Crawford (right) should get a six-year deal, he'll likely end up with a seven-year pact. As for Werth, the same executive said a four-year deal would make the most sense, but thanks to the sheer number of teams interested, he'll likely land a five-year deal.

Crawford has been linked to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers. Werth is expected to receive interest from his current team, the Philadelphia Phillies as well as others.

If Crawford is going to get a seven-year, 120 million deal, as some expect, will the Red Sox consider that illogical? Ditto for Werth (left), for whom a Jason Bay deal (four-years, 66 million) once seemed likely, but now might be able to command a five-year, 80 million or more.

It's worth noting that since becoming general manager, Epstein has only given one deal longer than four years to a position player -- J.D. Drew's, five-year, 70 million contract after the 2006 season.

(It's also worth noting that that contract came after the last time the Sox failed to make the playoffs -- as they did this season).

The Sox have plenty of money to spend. With about 120 million in contractual obligations, they're some 45 million shy of last year's payroll figure. But it wouldn't be a huge surprise if the Sox sat on most of that money and instead budgeted it for in-season acquisitions (see 2009 -- Victor Martinez, Billy Wagner, Alex Gonzalez) or held onto the money with an eye toward next winter when a number of franchise sluggers (Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols) hit the free-agent market.

Next: See what sort of interest exists for Daisuke Matsuzaka

Edelman says 'there was no maliciousness' to his Steelers comments

patriots-edelman-010117.jpg

Edelman says 'there was no maliciousness' to his Steelers comments

It's funny how during a week like this one, a singularly ridiculous act -- such as Antonio Brown's live stream of the Steelers postgame locker room celebration last weekend -- can lead to a series of brush fires that pop up only to be peed on and put out. 

That was the case yesterday as a comment Julian Edelman made to WEEI earlier this week about Brown's Facebook Live video was spun as a sort of vicious burn directed at the Steelers franchise. 

"That's how that team is run," Edelman said, a comment that read as a more serious indictment than it actually sounded. "I personally don't think that would be something that would happen in our locker room, but hey, whatever. Some people like red and some people like blue. Some people like tulips and some people like roses. Whatever."

That led to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger being asked about Edelman's comments, and defending the honor of the Rooney family, during a press conference on Wednesday.

"I don’t think I need to speak much," Roethlisberger said. "We’ve got our trophies out there. I’ve got owners that I think are the best in the business. They’re family to us, and I’m sure if he talked to his owner, he would say the same thing about the Rooneys. Anybody in here in the football world or the regular world that owns the Rooneys knows what they stand for. It’s a blessing to call them a family."

And on and on it went. Later in the day, Edelman was asked about his comments during a conference call with Pittsburgh reporters.

So just in case you're keeping score, a Steelers player streamed a video of coach Mike Tomlin calling the Patriots "a-holes," which prompted a response from Edelman. That response prompted a response from Roethlisberger, whose response to the response then led to a response to the response to the response from Edelman.

Got it?

"Yeah, I mean I think it was taken out of context," Edelman said. "I have nothing but respect for the Pittsburgh Steelers. They’re an unbelievable franchise. It starts from the top with the Rooney Family, Coach Tomlin, I think they just mis[interpreted] – I mean, I don’t know, I may have said it, but I think more of that was that it’s not the way we would do it here. That’s just how that goes. There was no maliciousness about it, but it’s whatever. That’s what the media does, try to make stories."