There was a reason why the Boston Red Sox opened the vault a couple of years ago (seems like 10 years now) to make outfielder Carl Crawford a rich man. He was a superb and dangerous leadoff hitter, the type of player that could disrupt another team on the basepaths, and also patrol left field well.
Crawford (bats left, throws left, runs as fast as a Corvette), was only 20 when he broke into the majors with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2002 and he was a four-time All-Star by 2010. The Red Sox swooped down and made him an offer he could not refuse starting with the 2011 season and at the time it seemed as if it was a great acquisition for Boston.
As a great leadoff man surrounded by big bats there seemed every possibility that Crawford could score a million runs, or at least 150. The Red Sox had witnessed some adventurous fielding in front of the Green Monster in left with Manny Ramirez manning the station, but Crawford owned one of the best fielding percentages in the game. How great an adjustment could it be? The Sox and Rays even played in the same American League East Division.
Yet somehow things never meshed. Crawford started out horribly in 2011, hitting well below his 215-pound weight. Pretty soon he became a dead weight in the batting order. And given that his contract was for $142 million spread over seven years, an expensive dead weight at that.
Somewhere around the middle of the season Crawford began to hit again and he ended the season at .255. Not one of Carl’s finest years.
Then things got worse. It was not a very Happy New Year for Crawford in 2012. First he injured his wrist and needed surgery. Then he tweaked his elbow. Crawford was just part of the disaster movie filming in Fenway Park that represented the last-place 2012 season. Before the end of August the usually free-spending Red Sox made a blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers that mostly represented getting rid of Crawford, pitcher Josh Beckett, and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.
The move was so unlike the Red Sox that fans were shocked and although there were plenty of Boston newspaper stories hinting that Beckett was poison in the clubhouse some also wondered if the Sox might not regret the hasty exile of Gonzalez or Crawford. All three are playing regular roles for the Dodgers now, one of the teams looking at the shortest odds of winning the National League pennant this summer.
This includes a now-healthy Crawford (finally), who not long ago publicly expressed remorse for ever signing with Boston. He made it sound as if he wished the British had kept the town after the Boston Tea Party. After his tribulations of the last couple of seasons, which were not Boston’s fault, but his own body’s, Crawford was ready to go for the Dodgers on opening day.
You can understand Crawford’s sour feelings about Boston to a point because they represent the worst portion of his career. But it’s hard to be too sympathetic when he moans about how everything started to go bad for him when then-Boston manager Terry Francona moved him to seventh in the batting order because he was off to an 0-for-7 start. C’mon, that’s just whining and shows a complete lack of mental toughness. Of course if Crawford had then started to hit nobody would even remember that occasion–even him.
Instead, Crawford went into a long-term tailspin, got hurt and hurt again. Now he seems to be healthy and back doing what he always did. After six games with the Dodgers Crawford was batting .450.
Let’s just say good for him and hope Carl Crawford is back to being what he was–an All-Star caliber player.