The price isn't right

197881.jpg

The price isn't right

By Michael Felger

Carl Crawford's problem is simple, and it has nothing to do with this weekend and it's not even his fault.

He's not a 20 million player.

As we all know from J.D. Drew's tenure in Boston, players at that pay grade are defined by their salary. Be honest. What's the first thing you think of when you think of the Sox right fielder? For some, it's that big postseason home run in 2007. But for most, it's his contract.

14 million a year for that? What's the fascination with J.D. Drew?

Thankfully for the Red Sox, Drew has either been oblivious to that noose around his neck, or he just doesn't care. Whatever it is, it hasn't affected his play on the field. It's never gotten to him as far as we can tell.

Sox fans can only hope Crawford has similarly strong earplugs. On Sunday, the eighth-highest-paid player in baseball was dropped to seventh in the lineup, where he played well, going 2-for-4 with the Sox' only RBI. In the three-game series with the Rangers, he went 2-for-11 with five strikeouts.

But, again, take this weekend out of it.

There are 11 players who have signed contracts worth an average annual value of 20 million or more in the history of baseball. The list includes Hall of Famers, would-be Hall of Famers, Cy Young winners, MVPs . . . and Crawford. The list also has the strong whiff of steroids, but leave that out for now. Let's assess this list strictly on the numbers:

1. Roger Clemens (28 million, 2007; 22 million, 2006)
One of the greatest pitchers in the history of the game. Seven Cy Young awards, the most ever.

2. Alex Rodriguez (27.5 million, 2008-17; 25.2 million, 2001-10).
One of the greatest right-handed hitters in baseball history. On pace to become MLB's all-time home run champ.

3. Ryan Howard (25 million, 2012-16)
Howard's HRRBI totals from 2006-09: 58149, 47136, 48146, 45141.

4. Cliff Lee (24 million, 2011-15).
Arguably the best left-handed pitcher in baseball. Has taken two teams to the World Series. Career postseason mark of 7-2 with a 2.13 ERA.

5. Joe Mauer (23 million, 2011-18).
Only catcher in major-league history to win three batting titles. League MVP in 2009.

6. CC Sabathia (23 million, 2008-13)
Four-time All-Star, 2007 Cy Young winner. Most consistent and durable left-handed pitcher in the game over the past decade.

7. Johan Santana (22.9 million, 2008-13)
Four-time All-Star, two-time Cy Young winner.

8. Manny Ramirez (22.5 million, 2009-10; 20 million, 2001-08).
Twelve-time All-Star. 555 career home runs. Best right-handed hitter in baseball for a decade (1996-2006).

9. Mark Teixeira (22.5 million, 2009-16)
Averaged 37 homers and 121 RBI over his first nine years in the majors.

10. Roy Halladay (20 million, 2011-13)
Arguably the best right-handed pitcher in baseball over the past decade. Seven-time All-Star, two-time Cy Young winner.

11. Crawford (20.3 million, 2011-2017)
Only 20 million hitter without a 20-homer season. Along with Mauer, who had 96 two years ago, only one on the list without a 100-RBI season (Crawford's career high is 90). Career OPS of .780. The next-lowest player on the list, Mauer at .887, beats him by over 100 points. The others? ARod .959, Howard .944, Ramirez .997, Teixeira .914.

Simply put, there has never been a 20 million player like Crawford.

Put another way, he doesn't belong on the list.

Red Sox president Larry Lucchino seemed to acknowledge as much when we had him on the radio the other day. I asked him what, in their eyes, made Crawford a 20 million player. His answer could be summed up thusly:

The Angels.

The debate fans had in spring training -- which of the Sox' big acquisitions will have a harder time acclimating to Boston, Crawford or Adrian Gonzalez? -- seems pretty silly now.

Gonzalez shouldn't have a problem because he's so damn good. It has nothing to do with attitude, experience in the A.L. East or anything like that. It has everything to do with ability. Gonzalez is a stud. A special hitter. He'll be fine.

He's soon to join that 20 million club, too. And something tells me we won't be mentioning his contract nearly as much as Crawford's. If Gonzalez isn't one of the best hitters in the American League over the next five years, I'll be surprised.

Gonzalez as a big expenditure made sense to the Red Sox from both a business standpoint and a baseball standpoint. They had no corner power in their system and Gonzalez fit their profile perfectly in terms of age, skill set and approach.

Crawford is different. The Sox didn't need another left-handed bat. They don't value steals. They don't need defense in left field at Fenway. Crawford's on-base numbers aren't typically what they covet.

Let's face it. Crawford is here because the Sox tanked in the Nielsen ratings last year and have been steadily losing market share since their last title in 2007, and they paid him 20 million because he probably would have gone to the Angels if they hadn't. The Sox needed to get the buzz back, and the exciting Crawford should entertain the folks at park and on the tube with his speed and all-around ability. He's perfect for Tom Werner's TV show, even if he isn't ideal for Terry Francona's lineup or Theo Epstein's payroll.

Don't take this the wrong way. No one is saying Crawford sucks. He's a very good ballplayer, a four-time All-Star who will help the Red Sox win a lot of games over the balance of his contract. We should all be thrilled the Sox overspent to beat out the Yankees and improve the team. It's what they should do every year.

Don't be fooled by Crawford's start. He'll be a big factor here.

Just don't be fooled by his contract, either. He's not that kind of player. And remember that it's not his fault.

He just took what the Red Sox gave him.

E-mail Felger HERE and read the mailbag on Thursdays. Listen to Felger on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Taiwanese broadcaster had shocking call for Manny Ramirez's homer

manny-ramirez-4-30-17.jpg

Taiwanese broadcaster had shocking call for Manny Ramirez's homer

A Taiwanese announcer's call outshined Hanley Ramirez's homer.

In a video that made rounds on the internet Sunday, the Taiwanese broadcaster delivered a laughable response to Ramirez's homer.

"This ball is long gone! Just like the ex-girlfriend who will never return! Home run!" the man yelled.

The hit took place a few years ago when he was in the Taiwanese league. He is now playing in Japan. But frankly, he many never have another home run as epic as that one. And he certainly won't get a call as epic as that one.

Watch the video in the tweet below.

Red Sox-Orioles series expected to begin with closest thing to warnings

Red Sox-Orioles series expected to begin with closest thing to warnings

If you're stupid, you're probably gone.

As standard operating procedure, umpiring crews no longer start series with warnings to either team. So when the Orioles and Red Sox kick off a four-game set at Fenway Park on Monday, technically, no official warning will be in place for the other side.

But the closest thing to a warning likely will be implemented. Umpires are expected to be made specifically aware of the recent history with Manny Machado, Dustin Pedroia and Matt Barnes, a baseball source told CSNNE — a sort of “heads up” that should create very little tolerance for any further drama.

In some situations, MLB reminds teams as well that the expectation is a game be played, not a repeat of past incidents. It’s unclear if that conversation will happen or has happened here.

The way the Red Sox and Orioles were talking after Barnes threw too close to Machado’s head, it sounded like a situation that’s wisely been put to bed. Not forgotten, but not something that requires action as it stands today.

Showalter a week ago Sunday praised his team for not retaliating. Machado, who started it all by spiking Pedroia, showed restraint when the pitch went behind him. Pedroia apologized publicly and dramatically, and Barnes apologized and dropped the appeal of his four-game suspension. (Barnes is to return Sunday.)

If indeed this chapter of the feud dies, Pedroia deserves some credit for that.

No Orioles player was hit by a pitch or hurt in the end. The only one injured was Pedroia. Despite the stupidity of where Barnes’ attempted retaliatory pitch went, it’d be hard for the Orioles to justify needing revenge at this point.

Zach Britton, who bizarrely questioned Pedroia’s leadership because he was unable to prevent Barnes’ pitch, told BaltimoreBaseball.com the Orioles were waiting to see how the Red Sox move forward. 

“That’s up to them. Well see what they do in Boston,” Britton told reporter Dan Connolly. “I think we’ve talked about it already, as a team, and we’ll see how they choose to act — whether or not they choose to act professionally or unprofessionally when we get to Boston.”

Pedro Martinez said he would have drilled Machado, not because he detected intent for Machado to harm, but because that's nonetheless what happens after you spike a guy like Pedroia.

"Barnesy did not mean to throw the ball at Machado’s head," Martinez said. "That’s another thing. But the results at the end were the right ones. If I was pitching, I was going to drill Machado as much as I love him. And it didn’t matter what happened, the only thing I would have done differently was probably [throw] the ball a little bit lower. But everything else was nature of baseball. I think it’s something that’s going to happen. It’s part of baseball. Hopefully it won’t linger around for too long, or nobody will make it personal.”