Crawford deal still has baseball brass buzzing


Crawford deal still has baseball brass buzzing

By Sean McAdam and Maureen Mullen

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.

"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."

"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."

"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."

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

"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.''

"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.''

"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."

"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.''

"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.''

"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 Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner


Francona, Epstein receive grand ovations at BBWAA dinner

BOSTON -- “I didn’t feel that love after I made a pitching change in the sixth inning,” Terry Francona said after a 45-second standing ovation from Boston fans upon receiving the MLB Manager of the Year award from the BBWAA Thursday.

It’s without question the love for Francona runs deep in the city. Why wouldn’t it? He was the leader in breaking the 86-year old curse, and wound up winning another World Series title for Boston three years later.

Actually, he was more of a co-leader, working alongside the same person who won the MLB Executive of the Year honors from the BBWAA for 2016.

Theo Epstein -- who received an ovation 17 seconds shorter than Francona, but who’s counting -- reminisced about the Red Sox ownership group that took a chance on a young kid who wasn’t necessarily the ideal candidate to take over as GM of a team, but now that’s helped him build the Chicago Cubs into a winning franchise and establish a great working environment.

This October marks 13 years since the ’04 championship, 10 years since ’07 and six years since the pair left Boston. Without question they’ve left their mark on the city and forever changed Red Sox baseball.

And while the fans showed their undying gratitude for Francona with an ovation almost as long as his acceptance speech, the Indians manager recognized the favor the current Red Sox brass has done for him.

“I’d like to thank Dave Dombrowski and the Red Sox for getting Chris Sale the hell out of the Central Division,” Francona said.

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

Offseason just like any other for Bogaerts

BOSTON -- At first, 2016 seemed like the “Year of Xander.” It turned out to be the “Year of Mookie,” with Bogaerts dropping off a little as the season progressed.

The Red Sox shortstop saw his average peak at .359 on June 12. At that point he’d played in 61 games, hit eight home runs, 20 doubles and knocked in 44 runs. Although Mookie Betts had six more home runs and three more RBI in that same span, Bogaerts had six more doubles and was hitting 69 points higher.

The two were already locks for the All-Star Game and Bogaerts still had the edge in early MVP talk.

Then things took a turn after the very day Bogaerts saw his average peak.

Over the next 61 games, Bogaerts still managed seven homers, but only had six doubles and 27 RBI, watching his average drop to .307 by the end of that stretch. At first glance, .307 doesn’t seem like an issue, but he dropped 52 points after hitting .253 in that span.

And in his remaining 35 games, Bogaerts only hit .248 -- although he did have six homers.

But throughout it all, Bogaerts never seemed fazed by it. With pitchers and catchers reporting in less than a month, Bogaerts still isn’t worried about the peaks and valleys.

“You go through it as a player, the only one’s who don’t go through that are the ones not playing,” Bogaerts told before the Boston baseball writers' dinner Thursday. “I just gotta know you’re going to be playing good for sometime, you’re going to be playing bad for sometime.

“Just try to a lot more better times than bad times. It’s just a matter of trusting yourself, trusting your abilities and never doubting yourself. Obviously, you get a lot of doubts when you’re playing bad, but you just be even keeled with whatever situation is presented.”

Bogaerts level head is something often noted by coaches and his teammates, carrying through the days he finds himself lunging left and right for pitches. That’s also carried him through the offseason while maintaining the same preparation from past seasons -- along with putting on some weight.

“I don’t know how much I put on, but I feel strong,” Bogaerts said to “I mean, I look strong in the mirror.

“Hopefully, I’m in a good position when the season comes because I know I’ll lose [the weight].”