Links 12-14-2010: More about Crawford, Lee signs with the Phillies, Blanton?, Rule 5

The Red Sox signing of Carl Crawford was a pleasant surprise for the Nation. After telling reporters that he was done with his major acquisitions, Theo Epstein went and snatched Crawford, who was all but ready to sign with the Angels. Hard to remember that just a week ago, we were trying to decide between Josh Willingham and Magglio Ordonez. Here are his contract details. Maybe the happiest Red Sox is Jason Varitek, who doesn’t have to pretend to try to throw him out on the bases anymore. The Sox could do this deal because of all the money coming off of the books, and because they have the young talent and draft picks to remain sustainable for the years to come.

Red Sox Beacon thinks that the infield grass at Fenway will hurt Crawford’s ability to get infield hits. I think it will lessen the number of grounders that make it through, but I think it might actually help him on balls that roll dead in no man’s land.

Where will Crawford hit? He doesn’t really like to lead off, but he’s willing. If Jacoby Ellsbury can return to form, my guess is he’ll hit either third or fifth, since Dustin Pedroia is locked into the two hole (and Terry Francona likes going lefty-righty at the top).

I’m actually excited about Crawford playing next to Ellsbury in the outfield. That’s the fastest outfield in baseball. While people say that playing him in front of the Green Monster is a waste, it allows Jacoby to shift over towards right-center. It makes everyone better out there; not too many balls will fall in either alley as a result.

And then seemingly out of nowhere, the Philadelphia Phillies came in and swooped up one Cliff Lee yesterday, leaving the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers open-mouthed and empty-handed. Lee signed for less guaranteed money then either the Yankees or Rangers were offering, so perhaps he wasn’t psyched about playing in either place (count the option, and it’s actually better). And this is yet another piece of good news for the Red Sox. For a team that is loading up on left-handed hitting, it’s a godsend that Lee, one of the top lefties in baseball, will not be playing in our division or even our league. The Rays lost Crawford to us (plus half their bullpen), and the Yankees have few options with which to boost their rotation. This is a huge shift in the balance of power in the AL East.

The Rangers will be alright; they can move Neftali Feliz to their rotation and sign Adrian Beltre. We’d end up with a first-round pick if that happens.

There is a report today that the Red Sox have agreed to trade for starter Joe Blanton from the Phillies. Now it seems like it won’t happen, but clearly Epstein was trying to help Philadephia to free up money to sign Lee. This is in keeping with their offseason strategy to keep Lee out of New York. As far as us getting him, Blanton used to pitch for the A’s, and is a marginally useful back end starter, but I’m not seeing much utility here. Either the Sox feel they can utilize him as a reliever, flip him for a reliever, or there is an issue with one of our starters that could affect their playing time in 2011.

Lots of Red Sox/Yankees jockeying this offseason. The Red Sox had an offer out to Mariano Rivera, but one source says it was Rivera’s agent who contacted them, probably for negotiating leverage.

It’s easy to revel in what we’ve accomplished so far, but don’t forget that we are not close to done yet. $300M has already been spent on two position players, but there’s the bullpen to think about. With the signings so far, it looks like it’ll take 2-3 years and $4-5M per season to get a setup man. The best current options include Brian Fuentes, Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier, according to Red Sox Beacon.

Right after his introduction, Adrian Gonzalez stressed that he has no agreement in place with Boston for an extension. Of course not, Adrian. That would be collusion and would draw the ire of MLB.

As of now, it seems that the Sox have no plans to trade Mike Cameron, despite his $7.5M price tag as a fourth outfielder. His presence allows Ryan Kalish to stay and play at Pawtucket, where he belongs to start the year.

Tito mentioned that he sees Varitek as more of a platoon-type catcher than a backup. Expect him to get plenty of playing time, especially early in the year.

Ryan Westmoreland is continuing his rehab, but it is still uncertain as to whether he can play in 2011. Our prayers and best wishes go out to him.

The Red Sox lost pitchers Cesar Cabral (Rays) and Daniel Turpen (Yankees) through the Rule 5 draft last week. We didn’t select anyone.


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