Tag: Carl Crawford

Carl Crawford: Latest News, Rumors, Speculation on Free-Agent OF

A week after being released by the Los Angeles Dodgers, Carl Crawford is exploring the market for his services and could return to where his MLB career began.

Continue for updates.

Rays Considering Crawford Reunion

Tuesday, June 21

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported the Tampa Bay Rays’ interest “likely will increase” if utility man Steve Pearce is “down for more than a few days.” Rosenthal noted the Rays are in need of healthy outfielders.

On Monday, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports first reported the Rays would consider a reunion. 

The Rays are currently sitting in last place in the AL East and are getting almost no production from their outfield. While it’s unlikely they would bench a player like the struggling Desmond Jennings for Crawford, his path to playing time and a possible return to form isn’t as difficult as it would be on a contender.

Crawford Has Declined Since Leaving Tampa Bay

Crawford, 34, was released by the Dodgers on June 13. He was designated for assignment June 5 despite Los Angeles being on the hook for $34 million over the next two years.

“I think we just got to the point with Carl—he’s the type of guy who his entire career has worked very hard and played very hard,” said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations, per Doug Padilla of ESPN.com. “Eventually that just takes a toll on your body. We just felt like we’d gotten to the point where this made the most sense for everyone involved.”

Crawford originally signed a seven-year, $142 million contract with the Boston Red Sox in 2010. He spent just one-and-a-half years in Boston and was eventually shipped to the Dodgers in August 2012 as part of a two-way organizational overhaul. Recovering from Tommy John surgery at the time of his SoCal move, Crawford didn’t make his Dodgers debut until 2013.

For a while, the arrangement worked. Crawford never reached his Tampa heights, but he posted 2.8 and 2.6 wins above replacement in 2013 and 2014, respectively, per FanGraphs. The Dodgers traded for him mostly as a cost of doing business to acquire Adrian Gonzalez, yet he was a solid two-way player despite an obvious decline in foot speed.

Over the last season-and-a-half, Crawford’s career took a major nosedive. He was limited to 69 games in 2015 amid ineffective play and a series of injuries, and he was abysmal across his 30 games this year. At the time of his release, he was hitting .185/.230/.235 without a home run or a stolen base.

It’s also possible Crawford decides to sit out the remainder of 2016, get his body right and land a more appealing job over the winter.


Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.

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Carl Crawford Released by Dodgers: Latest Comments and Reaction

The Los Angeles Dodgers have cut ties with former All-Star outfielder Carl Crawford approximately one week after they designated him for assignment.   

Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reported the Dodgers released Crawford on Monday.

The Dodgers announced on June 5 that they had designated Crawford for assignment, meaning they had 10 days to trade him, release him or place him on waivers for any team to claim.

Crawford’s contractual situation made it virtually impossible for another club to add him. Per ESPN.com’s Doug Padilla, the Dodgers will be on the hook for the approximately $35 million Crawford is still owed through 2017. 

The Dodgers acquired the 34-year-old in a 2012 trade with the Boston Red Sox that also included Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett going to Los Angeles. 

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in Padilla’s report from June 5 that the emergence of other outfielders led to the team’s decision regarding Crawford:

I think the biggest thing for us right now is going with an eight-man pen and a short bench. I think that added versatility had a lot of value for us. Just as we go through spring training and into the beginning part of the year, we’re constantly evaluating our roster and looking ahead.

I think we just got to the point with Carl — he’s the type of guy who his entire career has worked very hard and played very hard. Eventually that just takes a toll on your body. We just felt like we’d gotten to the point where this made the most sense for everyone involved.

Crawford began his career with the Tampa Bay Rays, playing with the team from 2002-10. He was one of the best players in the American League during that time, posting a .296/.337/.444 slash line and the sixth-most wins above replacement (36.7) among qualified outfielders, per FanGraphs. He also made four All-Star teams while in Tampa Bay.

Since leaving the Rays, however, Crawford’s career has fallen apart. He hasn’t played in more than 130 games in any of the last six seasons and has a slash line of .271/.310/.407 over that span. His 5.3 WAR since 2011 ranks 81st out of 101 outfielders with at least 1,500 plate appearances, per FanGraphs. 

It speaks to Crawford’s diminished talent that the Dodgers would make this move now, since Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier are currently on the disabled list, Joc Pederson is struggling with a .227 average and a .318 on-base percentage and Scott Van Slyke’s slugging percentage is .111. 

This could reasonably be the end of Crawford’s career, between his .464 OPS and his inability to stay healthy long enough to potentially figure anything out. His fall from grace was steep and drastic, but at his best, Crawford was a difference-maker with the bat and his glove.

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Carl Crawford Designated for Assignment by Dodgers: Latest Comments, Reaction

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford was designated for assignment Sunday amid a woeful start to the 2016 campaign. 

The Dodgers announced Crawford’s demotion and added that they recalled catcher/infielder Austin Barnes from Triple-A Oklahoma City to fill the 34-year-old veteran’s spot on the MLB roster.

Crawford has appeared in 30 games this season, posting a slash line of .185/.230/.235 in 81 at-bats.

“Father Time gets everyone,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters. “This game is about performance.”

Making Crawford’s performance all the more disappointing is how much money Los Angeles stands to owe him over the next year-plus, per Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times:

Trayce Thompson has flashed promise in his first season with the Dodgers thus far, but the outfield as a whole has been lackluster this year.

Gifted youngsters Yasiel Puig (25) and Joc Pederson (24) haven’t lived up to expectations, with batting averages of .237 and .226, respectively. Puig also just went on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, which goes to show the Dodgers have so little faith in Crawford that they sent him to the minors.

Andre Ethier is already out for a prolonged period with a fractured tibia, so L.A. will have to count on the likes of Howie Kendrick, Scott Van Slyke and Pederson to pick up the slack in the outfield rotation.

A team ERA of 3.34 entering Sunday has been the primary reason the Dodgers are above .500 with a 30-27 record. Increased production from the batting order will be necessary for surefire playoff contention, but Crawford won’t be doing any more damage at the dish at least for the foreseeable future.

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Carl Crawford Injury: Updates on Dodgers OF’s Back and Return

Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford is battling lower back soreness that will force him to miss extended action.

Continue for updates. 

Crawford Placed on Disabled List

Saturday, April 9

The Dodgers announced Micah Johnson will be recalled and take Crawford’s spot on the roster while he rests on the 15-day DL and aims to get back to 100 percent, according to the Los Angeles Times‘ Andy McCullough.    

Crawford had been serving as the Dodgers’ starting left fielder with Andre Ethier out nursing a leg injury, but those duties will presumably belong to Scott Van Slyke for the time being. 

The 34-year-old appeared in each of the Dodgers’ first three games and batted 3-for-10 during that span while driving in two runs, but he was out of the starting lineup Thursday and Friday due to back pain. 

“It’s been there for a while,” Crawford said of the pain before Friday’s game, per McCullough. “It just finally got to a point where I couldn’t take the pain no more.”

According to McCullough, Crawford missed an average of 80 games per season from 2012-2015 as he battled a litany of injuries. 

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Biggest Issues the Dodgers Must Address at the Trade Deadline

When examining the Los Angeles Dodgers on the surface, it’s difficult to find anything significantly wrong with the team.

Not only do they rank among the top of the league in runs scored and ERA while having committed the sixth-fewest errors, the Dodgers have also maintained control of the National League West for most of the season.

But no team is perfect and with the trade deadline now just a month and a half away, the Dodgers may want to consider two minor issues.


Crowded Outfield

Heading into the season, the Dodgers’ starting outfield consisted of Yasiel Puig in right field, rookie Joc Pederson in center field and veteran Carl Crawford in left field.

The alignment quickly got shuffled when Puig went down with a hamstring injury in mid-April, and Crawford joined him on the shelf shortly thereafter with an oblique tear.

Veteran Andre Ethier, who had been essentially relegated to bench duties ever since Puig arrived in 2013, stepped in and has put together a nice bounce-back season so far. He is slashing .287/.366/.491, and his eight home runs have already doubled his 2014 total.

Manager Don Mattingly has also been trying to mix in the capable bats of outfielders Scott Van Slyke (currently rehabbing a back injury) and Alex Guerrero. With Puig and Crawford missing most of the first two months, the issue basically resolved itself. 

But Puig recently returned to the lineup, solidifying two of the three outfield spots alongside Pederson, an early front-runner for NL Rookie of the Year. The only position left up for grabs is left field, and there will be an obvious dilemma when Crawford and Van Slyke climb back into the fold to compete for playing time with Ethier and Guerrero.

The dilemma will be four outfielders for one spot. Even in a platoon strategy, that’s still two right-handed hitters (Guerrero/Van Slyke) and two lefties (Crawford/Ethier) competing against each other.

While the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman values depth, even he might realize the impending outfield surplus is probably untenable. 

So the questions then become who to trade and for what.


Starting Rotation Depth

If there’s one area in which Los Angeles could use some future help, it’s the back end of the starting rotation.

The Dodgers lost Hyun-jin Ryu and free-agent addition Brandon McCarthy to season-ending injuries, forcing fellow newcomer Brett Anderson to slide from the No. 5 spot in the rotation to No. 3 behind Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

Anderson has been satisfactory, posting a 3.57 ERA in 12 starts. But the southpaw’s lengthy injury history is a constant cause for concern. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times points out, Anderson’s 12 June innings are more than all of his June innings combined during the past five years.

The stopgap solutions that Mattingly has thrown into the fire—right-handers Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias—have performed admirably considering their lack of experience.

Bolsinger, acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks in the offseason, had thrown just 52 MLB innings prior to 2015. He began the season in Triple-A but has turned in a 4-1 record with a 2.25 ERA and 1.10 WHIP in 12 starts for the Dodgers since his promotion.

Frias entered this season even greener, with only 32 innings of prior MLB experience. But he, too, has held his own, compiling a 4-3 record and 3.86 ERA in eight starts.

Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi understand that Anderson’s next injury could be just around the corner. They also know full well that the surprising Bolsinger/Frias tandem might falter as the workload increases.

It’s why the Dodgers should consider adding a more proven arm to stabilize the back end of the rotation in case the aforementioned scenarios manifest themselves.


Trade Logistics

Los Angeles would probably like to trade away an outfielder in order to clear what will soon become a logjam. That’s easier said than done, however.

Although Ethier has re-established his trade value after two seasons with declining playing time and production, he is still owed $35.5 million through 2017—including a $17.5 million club option in 2018. Crawford and the $41.75 million he is due over the next two seasons will be nearly impossible to move, leaving Van Slyke and Guerrero as the two likeliest players to be flipped for some starting pitching.

Guerrero has become somewhat of a secret weapon for the Dodgers, slashing .282/.312/.615 with 10 home runs in limited action. While his statistics are surely attractive to other teams, the clause in his contract stipulating that he may become a free agent at the end of any season in which he is traded may hold up a potential deal.

Van Slyke possesses the cheapest contract of the bunch and is accustomed to coming off the bench. His career OPS of .805 indicates what kind of hitter the 28-year-old can be with regular playing time. Last year, he led Los Angeles in slugging percentage and OPS.

While pitchers on struggling teams like Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija will likely see their names cast into trade winds because of their contracts, the Dodgers might be interested in less-heralded hurlers come next month.

One realistic target could be Scott Kazmir of the Oakland Athletics, someone with whom the Los Angeles front office is quite familiar. Friedman worked with him in Tampa Bay, and Zaidi—formerly part of Billy Beane’s brain trust in Oakland—was instrumental in bringing him to the Bay Area.

The veteran left-hander has pitched well for the cellar-dwelling A’s, posting a 2.79 ERA in 12 starts. On the flip side, Oakland could use a player like Van Slyke to help bolster a regressing offense that currently ranks 17th in OPS. With the ability to play all three outfield positions, Van Slyke would also become an immediate offensive upgrade over current left fielder Sam Fuld.

Los Angeles will almost certainly need to include a collection of additional pitching prospects like Zach Lee, Ross Stripling or Zach Bird to facilitate this deal.

If Oakland wants Ethier—a player the A’s originally drafted—the Dodgers would need to eat a significant portion of his bloated contract, similar to the $32 million chunk they bit off this past offseason in the Matt Kemp trade.


All stats courtesy of ESPN.com unless otherwise linked/noted.

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Will Dodgers Be Patient with Joc Pederson in World Series or Bust Pressure?

Change was the theme of the offseason for the Los Angeles Dodgers, both on and off the field.

It began with an overhaul of the team’s front office, as ownership hired Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi to serve as president of baseball operations and general manager, respectively, and with those two analytic rock stars came a new approach to constructing a winning and cost-effective roster.

That led to some tough goodbyes to fan-favorite players, as Friedman and Zaidi allowed Hanley Ramirez to leave as a free agent and then traded Dee Gordon and Matt Kemp in December during the annual winter meetings.

While the Dodgers subsequently restructured their middle infield through trades for veterans Jimmy Rollins and Howie Kendrick, the team’s decision not to replace Kemp in center field was a direct vote of confidence in prospect Joc Pederson.

Pederson enjoyed one of the better seasons in minor league history in 2014, as the 22-year-old was named MVP of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League after leading the league in home runs (33), OPS (1.017), on-base percentage (.435), runs scored (106), walks (100) and total bases (259). He also became the first Pacific Coast League player to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in a season since 1934. 

Unfortunately, Pederson didn’t fare as well in his first taste of the major leagues, as the September call-up was just 4-for-28 (.143) with 11 strikeouts and nine walks in 38 plate appearances with the Dodgers.

At 6’1″, 185 pounds, Pederson is an impressive athlete with quiet strength, showcasing five average-or-better tools and good secondary skills. He projects to be a slightly above-average hitter at the highest level, with a mature approach and line-drive-oriented swing, and he already demonstrates a feel for working counts and getting on base.

The left-handed hitter has shown at least above-average power at every minor league stop, including a career-high 33 bombs in 2014. His power will play even if the average doesn’t translate, as Pederson is patient enough to wait out specific pitches each trip to the plate.

Pederson’s consistency on the basepaths rivals his power frequency, as he’s now swiped at least 26 bases in each of the last four seasons. Beyond that, his knack for getting on base and using his speed to put pressure on opposing defenses should always make him a consistent source of runs.

Pederson is a natural in the outfield, with plus range, excellent instincts and above-average arm strength, and manager Don Mattingly has previously stated he believes the 22-year-old is the “best defensive center fielder” in the organization, per Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times.

Following the season, the 22-year-old traveled to the Dominican Republic to play winter ball for the Leones del Escogido. He batted .265/.351/.361 with five extra-base hits (one home run), 13 runs scored, 10 walks and 33 strikeouts in 22 games with Escogido.

As expected, the Dodgers coaching staff and front office have been noncommittal about the possibility of Pederson, who has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues, opening the 2015 season in center field. The youngster will “have the opportunity to compete for the position” during spring training, according to Mattingly, while Zaidi has acknowledged that it’s between Pederson and Andre Ethier heading into camp. However, I’m not convinced it will be the battle they’re making it out to be.

Pederson’s potential to contribute in 2015 obviously played a major part in the Dodgers’ decision to deal Kemp, so one would think he’d have to fail pretty miserably in spring training for Ethier to win the Opening Day gig.

On top of that, the center field situation will determine the club’s outfield configuration next season, which makes it hard to believe the Dodgers would enter spring training with that much uncertainty at the position.

The Dodgers front office “would not have shipped Matt Kemp to the division-rival Padres if they didn’t believe Pederson is for real,” writes Lyle Spencer of MLB.com

Whether Pederson makes an impact and lives up to expectations will depend on his ability to make adjustments and overcome the inevitable growing pains that come along with being a rookie in the major leagues. For him, specifically, that will mean keeping his strikeout rate, which reached 27 percent last season between Triple-A and the major leagues, under control.

The Steamer and ZIPS projection models for 2015 call for Pederson to strike out somewhere in the 25 to 30 percent range, but they also like his chances of going 20-20 with a 10-plus percent walk rate in his age-23 campaign.

With Carl Crawford slated for left field and Yasiel Puig opposite him in right, Ethier would likely be the odd man out if Pederson claims center field. Suffice it to say the 32-year-old Ethier, who’s coming off a career-worst season (.249 average, four home runs in 380 plate appearances) and is still owed $56 million, would not be on board with such a role.

However, it still makes sense for the Dodgers to hang onto Ethier in 2015, argues Dilbeck, as the Kemp trade made him even more valuable to the team:

The problem is, should they trade Ethier and Pederson struggles, they could be in trouble. You almost would have to keep Ethier. He absolutely will not like it and be far from happy and cause Manager Don Mattingly a few maddening moments, but Ethier wouldn’t sour the clubhouse. He’s too much a loner. And though he was mostly great about his situation as the odd outfielder out last season, it’s not like he’s never been in a snit before.

The Dodgers potentially have something special in Joc Pederson, but they also have enough outfield depth so that he won’t be forced into an Opening Day role if he’s not ready.

Like any young power hitter, Pederson, who turns 23 in April, can be streaky at the plate, so he’s likely to experience plenty of ups and downs over a full season in the major leagues. At the same time, Pederson’s steady improvement from year to year in the minor leagues speaks to his capacity to make adjustments against advanced competition, and it should give the Dodgers enough confidence to stick with the promising center fielder through it all in 2015.

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Evelyn Lozada’s Engagement Ring from Carl Crawford Is Huge, Worth Reported $1.4M

Evelyn Lozada didn’t just get ice for Christmas; she damn near got an entire glacier. 

First, we would like to congratulate Dodgers outfielder Carl Crawford and his bride-to-be, Lozada, on their engagement. Fans following the reality star found out on Christmas Day when the 38-year-old posted a picture of the ring to Instagram with the caption, “Yes!”

Here is that photo featuring a not-small diamond: 

That thing is big enough to host the Winter Olympics. Only, we weren’t quite sure how big that ring was at the time. 

As it turns out, when you’re in the middle of a seven-year, $142 million contract, you can splurge a little when you decide to marry the mother of your child. 

TMZ reports the ring is a whopping 14.5 carats and worth $1.4 million, which should make some of you lucky gentlemen who became engaged over the holidays beam a little brighter knowing the cost of your own purchase could have been far more extreme. 

The star of Basketball Wives took time to speak with People Magazine and happily divulged how she was feeling: “I’m overjoyed and in complete and utter shock! … What a different year and a half it has been – I’m truly happy!”

Earlier this month, Lozada spoke with OMG! Insider, divulging the father of her child due in March was none other than 32-year-old slugger Crawford. 

At the time, she stated: 

I definitely would get married again. I still believe in love … I’m not one of those people that’s like ‘we need to get engaged, we need to get married.’ No, absolutely not. I feel like that’s going to come, just like with the baby, let it come. I’m not forcing anything, so if it happens, it happens.

True to her word, she is once again saying yes to marriage. 

As The Los Angeles Times’ Nadine Saad reminds, Lozada was previously engaged to former NBA player Antoine Walker before marrying former NFL star Chad Johnson. That marriage was ultimately short-lived and featured Johnson’s arrest for domestic violence

As Lozada touches upon with People Magazine, “What a different year and a half it has been.” The time to look forward is here and that future looks very bright indeed. 

Although that may be the glitter from the diamond. 

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Why Red Sox Signing Josh Hamilton Would Be Bigger Disaster Than Carl Crawford

You get the feeling that the Boston Red Sox aren’t dying to sign slugging outfielder Josh Hamilton to a massive free-agent contract.

Nonetheless, reports that have been trickling out ever since the offseason began would have everyone believe otherwise. The Red Sox may look quiet on the outside, but they might be worshiping an idol of Hamilton on the inside.

On Thursday, for example, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com cautioned to “keep an eye on the Red Sox” in the chase for Hamilton.

“Boston wants to do something big and it wouldn’t shock me if they became players for Josh Hamilton,” said a rival GM.

Coincidentally, Sox GM Ben Cherington did an interview on Thursday with the Dennis and Callahan Show on WEEI, and he acknowledged that they have met with Hamilton’s agent. However, he classified the situation as the Sox just doing their “due diligence,” and he didn’t have much to say in regard to how Hamilton would fit into the club’s plans.

A little later on, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reported that he had heard from a source that Boston’s supposed interest in Hamilton is being “overblown.” 

So yeah, Thursday was a busy day in the Hamilton-to-Boston theater of the offseason. Despite the mixed messages, it would seem that the link between the two sides is stronger now than ever before.

It may not be strong enough for anyone to start believing that Hamilton and the Sox are destined for one another, mind you, but it’s certainly strong enough for the idea to be taken seriously.

Thus, the big question: What if? What would life be like if Hamilton and the Red Sox actually hook up?

It wouldn’t be very good. The union would bring back memories of Carl Crawford‘s union with the Red Sox back in December 2010. His contract, of course, ended up becoming a gigantic liability. If the Sox were to sign Hamilton, all signs would point toward his contract becoming an even bigger liability.

Here’s why.


Now’s Not the Time to Strike

These days, Carl Crawford is viewed as a broken-down player who may never recapture his old form as one of baseball’s best players.

But at the time the Red Sox signed him in December 2010, you’ll recall that there was not a single shred of doubt that Crawford indeed was one of baseball’s best players. 

Crawford’s 2010 season, in particular, was one for the books. He went into free agency fresh off a year that saw him hit .307 with a career-high .851 OPS and a career-high 19 home runs. He also stole 47 bases, scored 110 runs and racked up 90 RBI. He was also as good as ever in left field and was finally rewarded with a Gold Glove.

Per FanGraphs, only two players posted higher WARs than Crawford in 2010: Eventual AL MVP Josh Hamilton and Evan Longoria.

It’s not like Crawford was heading into free agency as a one-year wonder. Between 2006 and 2010, he hit .303 with an .812 OPS and averaged 48 steals and 14 home runs per season. He hit a peak in 2010, but he was consistently productive in the years leading up to 2010.

Somebody was going to give Crawford a massive contract. It happened to be the Red Sox, and the reaction was largely positive. Then-GM Theo Epstein looked like the smartest man in the room at the winter meetings.

“[Bleeping] Theo,” said one GM, via Sports Illustrated. “What a brilliant move.”

The reviews wouldn’t be so great if the Red Sox were to sign Hamilton, and for good reason. Whereas it was very clear in 2010 that Crawford was great and getting better, it’s very clear now that Hamilton is a flawed player who may be getting worse.

Hamilton looked like he was going to have a monster season in 2012 when he got off to a torrid start in April and early May, but it didn’t pan out. He had his OPS as high as 1.336 on May 11, but he finished the year by hitting .252 with an .822 OPS over his final 118 games.

Hamilton wants to be paid like an elite slugger, but for the bulk of the 2012 season, he was really no better than Alex Gordon (.822 OPS) or Garrett Jones (.832 OPS). 

It’s not like we’re talking about a case of serious bad luck, either. Hamilton did well enough when he put the ball in play over his final 118 games in 2012, compiling a decent enough BABIP of .299, but his problem all season long was actually putting the ball in play.

Hamilton’s plate discipline was atrocious in 2012. He saw only 3.69 pitches per plate appearance, and he set a new career high with a 25.5 strikeout percentage. According to FanGraphs, he had a new career-high swinging-strike percentage of 20 percent, and he chased 45.4 percent of the pitches he saw outside of the strike zone.

Both of those figures, by the way, were highs among all qualified hitters. In terms of discipline, Hamilton was right there with Delmon Young, and that’s not a place any hitter should want to be.

If somebody is going to pay Hamilton what he wants, it will be because of his monstrous 2010 season and his excellent showing in the first half of the 2012 season. The justification will be that when he’s right, he’s unstoppable.

Maybe so, but committing a huge pile of cash to Hamilton based on flashes is not a good idea. A team should only want to pay him based on his body of work, which is nowhere near as strong as his various flashes.

Elite sluggers—i.e., guys like Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun—should be capable of posting OPS’ close to 1.000 on an annual basis. Hamilton has had one year in which he posted an OPS over 1.000, but beyond that one year, his OPS has gone as low as .741 and only as high as .930.

And the more you look at it, the clearer it is that Hamilton’s 2010 season is a pretty huge outlier. He posted a career-low 16.6 strikeout percentage and finished with an absurdly high .390 BABIP. His K rate has stuck much closer to 20 every other year, and his BABIP has been right around .320 in three of the last four years.

When it comes to long-term contracts, the most important thing is predictability. In the case of Hamilton, the question is basically how many more monstrous 2010 seasons he may have in him, as that’s the kind of production it would take to justify the $25 million-per-year contract he’s going to command.

And the answer is zero. Hamilton was very, very good for one year, but every other year, his flaws have effectively held his potential down. 

When the Red Sox signed Crawford, there was little warning that he would fall so far so fast, much less come down with serious injuries.

If they were to sign Hamilton, the situation would be decidedly different. The Sox would be signing a very good slugger, but they’d also be signing a slugger with a ton of red flags on the field who would have virtually no chance of living up to his annual salary.

And this is to say nothing of the other red flags that come with Hamilton.


The Health Concerns Are Clear and Present

When the Red Sox signed Crawford in 2010, they were signing a player who was both talented and durable. Between 2003 and 2010, he had played in at least 150 games six times. In the other two years, he played in 143 games and 109 games.

The low point was his 2008 season, in which Crawford was limited, primarily due to a freak finger injury that he suffered on a checked swing. He bounced right back from that and played in 156 games in 2009 and 154 games in 2010.

Durability, meanwhile, is not something that Hamilton is known for. 

Hamilton has played in 647 games over the last five seasons, which amounts to an average of 129 games per season. He’s played in over 150 games in a season exactly once in his career, and he’s coming off a year in which he was limited to 148 games despite not suffering any serious injuries.

It was more a season of nagging injuries for Hamilton. Subscribers can look up his 2012 injury history on Baseball Prospectus and see a list of ailments reminiscent of that one kid in elementary school who was always going to the nurse’s office. A contusion one day, tightness the next, a migraine the day after that and four incidents listed as simply “General Medical” ailments.

To be fair, some of this stuff was on the more serious end of the spectrum, such as the time Hamilton had to be hospitalized in June with an intestinal problem. Other stuff was just plain weird, such as the vision problems he experienced in September that were supposedly caused by too many energy drinks.

I’m not going to call Hamilton out for lacking toughness. Baseball is a grind, and if you can’t play, you can’t play. In his case, health problems come with the territory.

But while these things shouldn’t necessarily outrage anybody, they would definitely concern me if I’m John Henry. The constant state of duress Hamilton’s body was under in 2012 and in years past tells Henry that he’s only going to be good for so many games per season, and that’s only going to make it harder for him to provide good value for his contract.

Plus, there’s always the fear of a more serious injury occurring at a moment’s notice. Such was the case in 2010 when a rib-cage injury cost him the final month of the season. In 2011, a broken arm cost him 35 games. In 2009, he lost a significant amount of time to a sports hernia and a back injury.

Bear in mind that Hamilton’s body wasn’t exactly a temple for a few years when he was going through serious problems with drug and alcohol addiction. I bring it up not to be mean-spirited, but to point out an unfortunate reality of his situation. When his body should have been in its prime, it was being weakened.

Also bear in mind that he’s not getting any younger. Hamilton is the same age as Crawford now, and he’ll turn 32 in early May. That’s right about at that age when some hitters start to lose it both physically and in terms of their general skills.

When Crawford came aboard, there was little to suggest that his performance would be so awful. There was also little to suggest that he was bound to get hurt and miss 32 games in his first season.

Once again, the story would be completely different if the Sox were to sign Hamilton. The signs would be there not to expect an elite performance, and the signs would also be there not to expect durability. They’d be walking right into an ultimate “I told you so” situation.

There’s a chance things would get just as bad off the field.


Would the Pressure of Playing in Boston Get to Him?

Crawford certainly had the skills the Sox were looking for when they signed him in 2010, and he came with the right kind of character for the city of Boston as well.

We know this because the Sox came to that conclusion after doing exhaustive research on Crawford. 

Last February, Crawford found out that the Red Sox had monitored him quite extensively off the field for months before they decided to sign him. Epstein hinted that they basically privately investigated him, which prompted Crawford to say he was “creeped out a little bit.”

Despite that, all signs pointed toward Crawford having the psychological fortitude to handle playing in a market as intense as Boston after nearly a decade in one of the calmest markets in baseball.

We now know otherwise. 

Crawford kept quiet in 2011, but he eventually opened up and ripped departed Sox manager Terry Francona for the way he handled him. Just a couple weeks ago, Crawford told ESPNLosAngeles.com that the pressure to perform in Boston led him to try and play through injuries he really shouldn’t have been trying to play through.

Getting out of Boston, he said, was a relief:

It’s no secret it was a tough year in Boston. It’s one of those things I wouldn’t want any player to go through, so for me to be able to get out of that situation is definitely a relief. I won’t have to go through all the stress and stuff every day that they were putting us through.

Crawford’s narrative is more proof that the long-held notion that some guys just aren’t cut out for Boston is true. It’s a tough place to play, and it’s eaten many good players (and just plain good guys) alive over the years.

And let’s face it: It’s abundantly clear that Boston isn’t the best fit for Hamilton’s personality. He appears to be exactly the kind of guy who would be eaten alive in Boston.

By all accounts, Hamilton is a great guy most days. But Rangers reliever Mike Adams hinted pretty strongly that Hamilton’s temperament is not consistent from one day to the next.

Here’s what Adams said on “Inside Pitch” on Sirius XM’s MLB Network Radio, via ESPNDallas.com:

Josh is a special talent and sometimes you have to let Josh figure it out himself. He’s a different guy sometimes. Every day you hope that Josh comes to the ballpark, shows up and plays like Josh Hamilton.

Sometimes he shows up and you don’t know which Josh is going to show up at the ballpark. It’s nothing to be negative about toward Josh; that’s just the way it is. That’s what you get with Josh.

There’s certainly a bit of gray area here, as it could be that Adams was merely implying that Hamilton isn’t always the same guy on the field. If so, he just said something everyone already knew.

But the notion that Hamilton isn’t always the same guy off the field has some legs. For example, there was that time he threw third-base coach Dave Anderson under the bus for sending him home on a shallow pop fly in 2011, which ultimately resulted in the broken arm that cost Hamilton so much time.

“It was just a stupid play,” Hamilton said, via The Dallas Morning News. “I definitely shouldn’t have done it. They had a good angle to cut me off where I was going. It was a little too aggressive. The whole time I was watching the play and I was listening. I was like, ‘Dude, I don’t want to go. Something is going to happen.’ But I listened to my coach and I went.”

There was also the exit interview that Hamilton did when the Rangers’ season ended this year. According to Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com, he criticized the fans for booing him as he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and a GIDP in the Rangers’ loss to the Baltimore Orioles in the AL Wild Card Game, and he also chose to plead the fifth when he was asked about whether his eyes were still bothering him.

Incidents like these became headline news simply because they involved Josh Hamilton. If these things were to happen in Boston, they’d be headline news for days, maybe even weeks. They’d be blown way out of proportion, as many baseball storylines in Boston invariably are.

That’s just how it is in Boston. The writers can be mean, and there are a lot more beat writers following the Red Sox around than there are with most teams.

Worse, they occasionally cater to a fanbase that isn’t known for being forgiving. It’s just another thing that makes the pressure of playing in Boston so much greater than that of most other cities not named New York.

Crawford couldn’t hack the pressure of playing in Boston, and this was after the Red Sox did enough creepy investigating to come to a sound conclusion that he could deal with it. It’s impossible to imagine how a similar investigation of Hamilton would yield the same conclusion, so this is yet another area in which the Red Sox would be rushing headlong into a potentially disastrous situation.

And unlike with Crawford, the Red Sox would not be able to wash their hands of said disastrous situation.


There’d Be No Moving Him

The Red Sox should thank their lucky stars for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

If it weren’t for them, the Sox would currently be looking at paying Crawford $102.5 million over the next five seasons. That’s a lot of money to pay for a guy who had a WAR of 0.6 in the two seasons he played in Boston, according to FanGraphs.

If the Dodgers hadn’t come along, the Red Sox would have been stuck with Crawford, not to mention Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez. If the status quo held, he would have given them very little production while taking up roughly 10 percent of their total payroll.

If the Red Sox were to sign Hamilton to a contract worth $25 million annually, he’d be taking up far more than that. And if they were to one day come to a conclusion that he needed to go, they’d be out of luck.

There are two reasons why the Red Sox were able to unload Crawford. The first reason is the most obvious one, and it’s that the Dodgers just don’t give a you-know-what. They have money and want to make it rain, so taking on what was left of Crawford’s contract came with few concerns for them.

The other reason the Sox were able to move Crawford is because of where he is at this point in his career. He has two lost years in his rear-view mirror, but he’s still young enough to have a few prime years left. And since he was a never a good fit in Boston, it was worth gambling on him being a fit in Los Angeles.

It was a good gamble by the Dodgers, as they have a spot at the top of their lineup for Crawford and a ballpark that suits his game much better than Fenway Park. The NL West in general is loaded with ballparks that Crawford should find to his liking.

Once again, it would be a totally different story with Hamilton. If the Sox were to try to get rid of him two years down the line, they’d be doing so because Hamilton is injured, underperforming or both.

And he won’t be 31, as Crawford was when the Red Sox traded him. Hamilton would be 33 or 34.

That’s not a good age for a slugger, and the Red Sox certainly wouldn’t be able to distract teams from looking at Hamilton’s track record both before and after going to Boston. In its entirety, Hamilton’s narrative would send teams a very clear message: “Stay away.”

That’s a message that the Red Sox can heed right here and now. Signing Hamilton is undoubtedly an intriguing idea, but it’s not a good idea.

All they need to do is think back to Carl Crawford’s contract and how it panned out…and then imagine a situation 10 times worse.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Salary figures courtesy of Cot’s Baseball Contracts.


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Ranking, Grading the Top 10 Shocking Blockbuster Trades of the Last 10 Years

Two of the biggest sluggers in the game, Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton and Toronto’s Jose Bautista, give us a pretty accurate assessment of what the feelings of the players and fans in both cities are feeling after Tuesday night’s blockbuster deal that saw 12 players, including Jose Reyes, change hands.


On the heels of the blockbuster, what better time to take a look back at the past decade of blockbuster deals and see how those worked out for the teams involved?

I can’t think of one. We’ll grade the deals with the aid of retrospect, but rank them in terms of shock value.

Let’s get to it.

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Boston Red Sox: 5 Changes to Team Culture Coming in 2013

In December 2010, the Red Sox acquired Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. Shortly after, they signed Gonzalez to a seven-year, $154 million deal and Crawford to a seven-year, $142 million deal.

The following year, the Red Sox missed the playoffs, finishing third in their division after a September collapse, despite a 90-72 final record. Gonzalez played well, but Crawford batted just .255 with career lows in stolen bases and runs scored. They followed that up with a complete breakdown in 2012, and they shipped both players to Los Angeles.

There is cause for hope in Boston. They re-signed David Ortiz and still have Dustin Pedroia along with young starting pitching and talented prospects who could make an impact in the coming season. What will be different about the 2013 Red Sox? Read on to find out.

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