Report: Red Sox contact Crawford and Werth


Report: Red Sox contact Crawford and Werth

By Sean McAdam

According to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, the Red Sox had a front-office contingent in Houston Wednesday, meeting with representatives of free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford, and will meet with outfielder Jayson Werth and his agent, Scott Boras, Thursday in Chicago.

This continues a trend for the Sox in the last several years. In the week prior to the 2008 Winter Meetings, general manager Theo Epstein and manager Terry Francona met with Mark Teixeira in what wound up being an unsuccessful effort to land the free agent first baseman. Last year, the Sox visited John Lackey before the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis and wound up signing the right-hander.

Crawford, 29, and Werth, who will turn 32 next May, are the other top two outfielders on the free-agent market, and the Sox, in need of outfield help, are nterested.

Crawford just completed his ninth season in Tampa Bay and is coming off a career year. He hit .307 with a .356 on-base percentage and a .495 slugging percentage, and set career highs in triples with 13, home runs with 19, RBI with 90, and runs scored with 110.

In his career, the left-handed-hitting Crawford has a .296 average with 592 RBI and 104 HR. He's also stolen 409 bases, with a career high of 60 (in 2009), has swiped 50 or more in five seasons.

He's a strong defensive left fielder and it's thought the Red Sox would leave him there and play Jacoby Ellsbury in center. Crawford has been a top-of-the-order hitter in Tampa but has expressed interest in moving to the middle of the order. The Red Sox, who have already lost Victor Martinez and are expected to lose Adrian Beltre to free agency, would probably bat third or fifth in Boston.

Crawford is expected to receive the longest contract of any position player in this year's free-agent market, with some forecasting a deal that could be as long as seven or eight years.

The Rays, who have said they're cutting payroll this offseason, have zero hope of retaining him. The Angels have been regarded as the favorites to sign Crawford; in fact, L.A. outfielder Torii Hunter has already reached out to Crawford. Los Angeles, coming off a rare losing season, has signaled a willingness to spend freely this winter in an attempt to close the gap between themselves and the defending league champion Rangers in the A.L. West.

Werth batted .296 for the Phillies last year with 27 home runs and 85 RBI, along with an OBP of .388 and a slugging percentage of .532. He's hit 87 home runs in the last three seasons and, as a right-handed power hitter, would fill a glaring need for the Red Sox, many of whose biggest hitters (David Ortiz, Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew) are left-handed.

Sean McAdam can be reached at Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.