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.

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6-14-2010: Nava!, roster shuffling, draft signings, the Ellsbury fiasco

Daniel Nava stands a stocky 5-10, 200 lbs. He is 27 years old, and has never played above Double-A ball until this season. After not making his college team initially, he was an undrafted player out of Santa Clara, and went to play independent league ball. The Sox signed Nava in 2007 for $1. Seriously. He’s not supposed to be in the big leagues. Yet here he is, slugging a grand slam in his first Major League game; no, check that, first at-bat; no, check that- on the first pitch he ever saw in the Majors off of Phillies starter Joe Blanton, a legitimate big league starter. Nava is actually a very well-rounded player; it’s just that none of his tools predict any level of success at the highest level. His journey is a great story, and I hope that he does stick somewhere, if not with us. Sabermatricians have said that Nava’s excellent minor league numbers bode well for him at this level.

With Josh Reddick already sent back to Pawtucket, Nava was called up to replace the injured Jeremy Hermida, who went on the DL with a severe case of Adrian Beltre. Reliever Joe Nelson was designated as well, making room for Jonathan Papelbon to return to active duty. Unfortunately, Nelson proved ineffective in his stint here, and his future with the team is uncertain. Also called up was left-handed reliever Dustin Richardson, as Daisuke Matsuzaka was suddenly¬†placed on the 15-day DL for forearm problems. He immediately came out and said that it wasn’t a big problem at all, which is a good thing, but I think he should keep his mouth shut more on issues like this.

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31-22: Sox swept out of Oakland

Oakland came into this series struggling of late, and Boston came in on a six-game win streak. But it didn’t matter, as the A’s silenced the Boston bats and got enough offense to win all three games. The Sox are really feast or famine this year; in addition to the extreme home/road splits, they have had winning streaks of 4, 5, 6 and 7 games already. They have lost three in a row twice, and had 4 and 5 game losing streaks as well in this still young season. They have been a part of 9 series sweeps in 2008, winning 5 of them and losing 4. Let’s hope the losing doesn’t continue for long this time.

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2-1: Dice-K wins it in style, 2-1

A very good outing by Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-0) tonight. 6 2/3 innings, one run on just two hits and no walks, plus 9 Ks. If you look at the stat line, he was dominant; however, Dice-K is one of those pitchers that somehow doesn’t look like he is dominating people. At least early on, he was getting behind hitters and throwing a lot of pitches again. To his credit, he didn’t give in to them and didn’t walk a single man. Read more of this post

Youkilis settles before arbitration

For those of you who were worried, it’s a done deal now. Kevin Youkilis has agreed to a one-year, $3M deal with the Red Sox for 2008. Theo Epstein has never gone to arbitration with a Red Sox player, and he’s not about to start now. Even though the salaries were kind of far apart initially, the final number seems to signal that there was no ill will in the negotiations, though they took some time.

On another note, the equipment truck has been loaded up here at Fenway, and it is on the way to Fort Myers, where pitchers and catchers will report this week, minus one Curt Schilling. The anticipation might kill me.

As to whether the Sox will try to acquire another pitcher, I think it’s quite possible. But I don’t see them going for Joe Blanton or anything. Maybe some grizzled veteran who would cost just a couple of million and could fall flat on his face without costing a prospect.