Crawford deal still has baseball brass buzzing

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Crawford deal still has baseball brass buzzing

By Sean McAdam and Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As baseball people scurried to check out of the Dolphin Hotel and get home on Thursday, and some 10 hours after news of the Red Sox' signing of free agent outfielder Carl Crawford to a landmark eight-year, 142 million contract broke, the deal was still the talk of baseball.

YANKEES GM BRIAN CASHMAN
"They have a great team. They've had two huge acquisitions, so they'reloading up like they always do. But this is even more significant thana typical Red Sox reload, so they've done a great job so far."

"Signing Crawford is a great move. They have a great team that'ssignificantly been improved. They were a great team last year but theygot derailed by injuries. And now they're even a better team."

On Crawford being the Yankees' Plan 'B': "No, that's not true. We never made an offer. I've reached out to everybody andanybody, but it's not a need for us. We have Brent Gardner, we haveCurtis Granderson, we have Nick Swisher. I have a certain amount of money I canspend. I'm going to be aggressive on areas of need, not areas thataren't of need. So if you kind of follow how I go about . . . I'm going toattack the areas of need for us."

RAYS MANAGER JOE MADDON
"I've already been thinking about seeing Carl Crawford in a Red Sox uniform. It's going to be difficult to beat the Red Sox now. They got two of the best players in the big leagues in the last couple of days having traded for Adrian Gonzalez last weekend, and on top of that, they already had guys like that."

On competing with big-money teams: "You know the rules of the game. You know it's going to happen. You prepare yourself mentally for it."

EXECUTIVE VP OF RAYS BASEBALL OPS ANDREW FRIEDMAN
"We know Crawford well, he knows us well.It will be interesting. It will be tough to see him in that uniform -- especially the first time. But, obviously, it was a choice he made and he felt like it was the best opportunity for him. So while I think the fans will be disappointed that it was that team specifically, they'll be appreciative of everything he did for us and be ready to root against him 18 times.

"He's an extremely talented player. What you see is what you get. He's driven to be great. He impacts the game in every facet. It's certainly a big loss for us. We knew it was coming, but obviously when it happens, there's a feeling of disappointment."

On the Sox new lineup: "They have a really good team. It's a very good offensive team.They're a lot more balanced and well-rounded than they've been in the past."

ANONYMOUS NATIONAL LEAGUE EXECUTIVE
"What's not to like? If the Red Sox pitch at all, they're the team to beat.''

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACK GM KEVIN TOWERS
"You talk about Adrian Gonzalez knocking the paint off The Wall, I mean, geez . . . they'll have to have some guy hanging and repainting The Wall during the game. It's a pretty impressive lineup.''

On whether Crawford might not "age well,'' given that athletic players lose their speed as they get older: "I think there's risk involved in any signing that you make. But I'd say there's certainly probably always more risk involved with a pitcher than a position player.

"We've seen the Steve Finleys of the world who are everyday players at 40, still contributing, producing and performing.''

BALTIMORE ORIOLES GM ANDY MACPHAIL
"In our view, Boston going into 2010 looked like a potent powerhouse. They still won 89 games in the most difficult division in baseball, in an unbalanced-schedule environment, with Dustin Pedroia hurt, with Kevin Youkilis hurt, with all kinds of devastating injuries, Mike Cameron. The fact that those guys come back healthy and then you add Gonzalez and Crawford to the equation, thats quite a formidable crew.

"We're going to start a mid-Atlantic division.''

TORONTO BLUE JAYS GM ALEX ANTHOPOULOS
"Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez (both of whom the Red Sox lost to free agency) are two great players but they added two great players in Crawford and Gonzalez. Are they better, are they worse? Its hard to say. Youre talking four great players there. So, they could be debated up and down all the different things that they bring. But I felt like, and I told Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein this before, with the injuries they had last year to win 89 games in incredible. So, Sox manager Terry Francona did a great job, the front office did a great job finding players to replace them. You look at, everyone has injuries and thats fine. But, I think they were second- or third-most DL days in the A.L. and you can have a lot of DL days but they had it to all their start players.

"Swapping out Beltre and Martinez for Crawford and Gonzalez, I'd let somebody else compare the players, they're not the same. But they're all All-Star caliber players. So how much that changes things I don't know. But I just think by virtue of better health, they're going to be a great club.

"For me, the difficulty is to compete with is the brains in the division. I say it all the time, the job that Theo Epstein and his staff have done winning two World Series (is incredible). They're competitive every year. Theyre one of the most respected front offices in baseball."

On the A.L. East overall: "Andy MacPhail's won a World Series in Minnesota; Andrew Friedman's been to the World Series and won the American League East twice. Certainly Brian Cashman's won the World Series multiple times. So irrespective of the resources and the finances, I know that's the focus of this division, that doesnt deter me nearly as much as looking at the intelligence and the savvy of every front office and every general manger in the division."

SEATTLE MARINERS GM JACK ZDURIENCIK
"Theyve made their club better. That's the easiest way to say it. I'm a great admirer of both players. They have the wherewithal to do the things they can do and we have to respect that and admire it and whatever your opportunities, are you try to make the most of it. On the outside looking in, they've done a very nice job.

"In some cases, you can't compete with the Red Sox' resources. But if you're a ballclub that has the ability to do that, you do it. More power to you. You did what you can do. But throughout the industry, there are limitations with a lot of clubs and everyone has their budgets and everyone has their limits and you try to work within your parameters. And if your parameters stretch farther, where you can do that, then they're doing what they can do. If someone else is limited, then youre going to do what you can do within your limitations. So, it's competitive and we wish them the best.''

LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM GM TONY REAGINS
"We were able to accomplish some things. Very positive about what the future holds for us. We're looking to improve our club and that's where it stands. In this process, you never know what can happen. Players have the right to make their own calls. But we were in pursuit of Crawford and it didn't work out. That's part of this business. I understand it, been through the process before. So it's not new.''

ANONYMOUS MAJOR LEAGUE EXECUTIVE
"I guess the thing I take out of these meetings is: The mega-deal is back. It's like the old days. When you see the kind of money the Red Sox and Nationals (who signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year contract) spent, and the kind of deal Cliff Lee is going to get, coupled with the fact that the Cubs and Mets are holding back (for Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols next offseason) . . . you've seen guys like Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria sign deals that buy out some arbitration and free-agent years. But now that this kind of money is being spent, do you think someone like Joey Votto is going to do that kind of deal? Not when he knows what's waiting for him (as a free agent on the open market).''

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Report: Third base among 'major upgrades' Red Sox seek by trade deadline

Despite still being owed more than $42 million after this year, Pablo Sandoval's days with the Red Sox appear numbered. So, it's no surprise that landing a third baseman at the trade deadline is a priority.

That's among the "major upgrades" the Sox are seeking by the July 31 deadline, MLB.com columnist Mark Feinsand reports.

With Sandoval now on his second disabled list stint of the season - this time with an ear infection - after turning into what Feinsand calls "a horror tale for the Red Sox," and with fill-ins Josh Rutledge and Deven Marrero holding down third, it's apparent that the position is a glaring need.

"Sandoval is basically a non-entity at this point," a source told Feinsand. "They need to make a move there."

Feinsand mentions the usual suspects - Mike Moustakas of the Royals and Todd Frazier of the White Sox - as possibilities. Also, he wonders if former MVP Josh Donaldson could be pried away from the Blue Jays (if "Dave Dombrowski knocks their socks off") with an offer and if Toronto is still sputtering at the deadline?

Those other upgrades? "Boston is also looking for pitching, both in the rotation and bullpen," Feinsand writes. Again, no surprise there.

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

Drellich: Red Sox' talent drowning out lack of identity

A look under the hood is not encouraging. A look at the performance is.

The sideshows for the Red Sox have been numerous. What the team’s success to this point has reinforced is how much talent and performance can outweigh everything else. Hitting and pitching can drown out a word that rhymes with pitching — as long as the wins keep coming.

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At 40-32, the Sox have the seventh-best win percentage (.556) in the majors. What they lack, by their own admission, is an intangible. Manager John Farrell told reporters Wednesday in Kansas City his club was still searching for its identity.

“A team needs to forge their own identity every year,” Farrell said. “That’s going to be dependent upon the changes on your roster, the personalities that exist, and certainly the style of game that you play. So, with [David Ortiz’s] departure, his retirement, yeah, that was going to happen naturally with him not being here. And I think, honestly, we’re still kind of forming it.”

To this observer, the vibe in the Red Sox clubhouse is not the merriest. 

Perhaps, in the mess hall, the players are a unified group of 25 (or so), living for one another with every pitch. What the media sees is only a small slice of the day. 

But it does not feel like Farrell has bred an easygoing, cohesive environment.

Farrell and big boss Dave Dombrowski appeared unaligned in their view of Pablo Sandoval’s place on the roster, at least until Sandoval landed on the disabled list. 

Hanley Ramirez and first base may go together like Craig Kimbrel and the eighth inning. Which is to say, selfless enthusiasm for the ultimate goal of winning does not appear constant with either.

Dustin Pedroia looked like the spokesperson of a fractured group when he told Manny Machado, in front of all the cameras, “It’s not me, it’s them,” as the Orioles and Red Sox carried forth a prolonged drama of drillings. 

Yet, when you note the Sox are just a half-game behind the Yankees for the American League East lead; when you consider the Sox have won 19 of their past 30 games, you need to make sure everything is kept in proportion.

How much are the Sox really hurt by a lack of identity? By any other issue off the field?

Undoubtedly, the Sox would be better positioned if there were no sideshows. But it’s hard to say they’d have ‘X’ more wins.

The Sox would have had a better chance of winning Wednesday’s game if Kimbrel pitched at any point in the eighth inning, that’s for sure. 

Kimbrel is available for one inning at this point, the ninth, Farrell has said.

A determination to keep Kimbrel out of the eighth because that’s not what a closer traditionally does seems like a stance bent on keeping Kimbrel happy rather than doing what is best for the team. The achievement of a save has been prioritized over the achievement of a team win, a state of affairs that exists elsewhere, but is nonetheless far from ideal — a state of affairs that does not reflect an identity of all for one and one for all.

Maybe the Sox will find that identity uniformly. Maybe they’re so good, they can win the division without it.