Red Sox

Crawford deal still has baseball brass buzzing


Crawford deal still has baseball brass buzzing

By Sean McAdam and Maureen Mullen

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As baseball people scurried to check out of the Dolphin Hotel and get home on Thursday, and some 10 hours after news of the Red Sox' signing of free agent outfielder Carl Crawford to a landmark eight-year, 142 million contract broke, the deal was still the talk of baseball.

"They have a great team. They've had two huge acquisitions, so they'reloading up like they always do. But this is even more significant thana typical Red Sox reload, so they've done a great job so far."

"Signing Crawford is a great move. They have a great team that'ssignificantly been improved. They were a great team last year but theygot derailed by injuries. And now they're even a better team."

On Crawford being the Yankees' Plan 'B': "No, that's not true. We never made an offer. I've reached out to everybody andanybody, but it's not a need for us. We have Brent Gardner, we haveCurtis Granderson, we have Nick Swisher. I have a certain amount of money I canspend. I'm going to be aggressive on areas of need, not areas thataren't of need. So if you kind of follow how I go about . . . I'm going toattack the areas of need for us."

"I've already been thinking about seeing Carl Crawford in a Red Sox uniform. It's going to be difficult to beat the Red Sox now. They got two of the best players in the big leagues in the last couple of days having traded for Adrian Gonzalez last weekend, and on top of that, they already had guys like that."

On competing with big-money teams: "You know the rules of the game. You know it's going to happen. You prepare yourself mentally for it."

"We know Crawford well, he knows us well.It will be interesting. It will be tough to see him in that uniform -- especially the first time. But, obviously, it was a choice he made and he felt like it was the best opportunity for him. So while I think the fans will be disappointed that it was that team specifically, they'll be appreciative of everything he did for us and be ready to root against him 18 times.

"He's an extremely talented player. What you see is what you get. He's driven to be great. He impacts the game in every facet. It's certainly a big loss for us. We knew it was coming, but obviously when it happens, there's a feeling of disappointment."

On the Sox new lineup: "They have a really good team. It's a very good offensive team.They're a lot more balanced and well-rounded than they've been in the past."

"What's not to like? If the Red Sox pitch at all, they're the team to beat.''

"You talk about Adrian Gonzalez knocking the paint off The Wall, I mean, geez . . . they'll have to have some guy hanging and repainting The Wall during the game. It's a pretty impressive lineup.''

On whether Crawford might not "age well,'' given that athletic players lose their speed as they get older: "I think there's risk involved in any signing that you make. But I'd say there's certainly probably always more risk involved with a pitcher than a position player.

"We've seen the Steve Finleys of the world who are everyday players at 40, still contributing, producing and performing.''

"In our view, Boston going into 2010 looked like a potent powerhouse. They still won 89 games in the most difficult division in baseball, in an unbalanced-schedule environment, with Dustin Pedroia hurt, with Kevin Youkilis hurt, with all kinds of devastating injuries, Mike Cameron. The fact that those guys come back healthy and then you add Gonzalez and Crawford to the equation, thats quite a formidable crew.

"We're going to start a mid-Atlantic division.''

"Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez (both of whom the Red Sox lost to free agency) are two great players but they added two great players in Crawford and Gonzalez. Are they better, are they worse? Its hard to say. Youre talking four great players there. So, they could be debated up and down all the different things that they bring. But I felt like, and I told Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein this before, with the injuries they had last year to win 89 games in incredible. So, Sox manager Terry Francona did a great job, the front office did a great job finding players to replace them. You look at, everyone has injuries and thats fine. But, I think they were second- or third-most DL days in the A.L. and you can have a lot of DL days but they had it to all their start players.

"Swapping out Beltre and Martinez for Crawford and Gonzalez, I'd let somebody else compare the players, they're not the same. But they're all All-Star caliber players. So how much that changes things I don't know. But I just think by virtue of better health, they're going to be a great club.

"For me, the difficulty is to compete with is the brains in the division. I say it all the time, the job that Theo Epstein and his staff have done winning two World Series (is incredible). They're competitive every year. Theyre one of the most respected front offices in baseball."

On the A.L. East overall: "Andy MacPhail's won a World Series in Minnesota; Andrew Friedman's been to the World Series and won the American League East twice. Certainly Brian Cashman's won the World Series multiple times. So irrespective of the resources and the finances, I know that's the focus of this division, that doesnt deter me nearly as much as looking at the intelligence and the savvy of every front office and every general manger in the division."

"Theyve made their club better. That's the easiest way to say it. I'm a great admirer of both players. They have the wherewithal to do the things they can do and we have to respect that and admire it and whatever your opportunities, are you try to make the most of it. On the outside looking in, they've done a very nice job.

"In some cases, you can't compete with the Red Sox' resources. But if you're a ballclub that has the ability to do that, you do it. More power to you. You did what you can do. But throughout the industry, there are limitations with a lot of clubs and everyone has their budgets and everyone has their limits and you try to work within your parameters. And if your parameters stretch farther, where you can do that, then they're doing what they can do. If someone else is limited, then youre going to do what you can do within your limitations. So, it's competitive and we wish them the best.''

"We were able to accomplish some things. Very positive about what the future holds for us. We're looking to improve our club and that's where it stands. In this process, you never know what can happen. Players have the right to make their own calls. But we were in pursuit of Crawford and it didn't work out. That's part of this business. I understand it, been through the process before. So it's not new.''

"I guess the thing I take out of these meetings is: The mega-deal is back. It's like the old days. When you see the kind of money the Red Sox and Nationals (who signed Jayson Werth to a seven-year contract) spent, and the kind of deal Cliff Lee is going to get, coupled with the fact that the Cubs and Mets are holding back (for Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols next offseason) . . . you've seen guys like Ryan Braun and Evan Longoria sign deals that buy out some arbitration and free-agent years. But now that this kind of money is being spent, do you think someone like Joey Votto is going to do that kind of deal? Not when he knows what's waiting for him (as a free agent on the open market).''

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

Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen

HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall


HOFer Joe Morgan's letter urges voters to keep steroid users out of Hall

Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan is urging voters to keep “known steroid users” out of Cooperstown.

A day after the Hall revealed its 33-man ballot for the 2018 class, the 74-year-old Morgan argued against the inclusion of players implicated during baseball’s steroid era in a letter to voters with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The letter from the vice chairman of the Hall’s board of directors was sent Tuesday using a Hall email address.

Read the full text of Morgan's letter here. 

“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan wrote. “What they did shouldn’t be accepted. Times shouldn’t change for the worse.”

Hall voters have been wrestling with the issue of performance-enhancing drugs for several years. Baseball held a survey drug test in 2003 and the sport began testing for banned steroids the following year with penalties. Accusations connected to some of the candidates for the Hall vary in strength from allegations with no evidence to positive tests that caused suspensions.

About 430 ballots are being sent to voters, who must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years, and a player needs at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by Dec. 31 and results will be announced Jan. 24.

Writers who had not been covering the game for more than a decade were eliminated from the rolls in 2015, creating a younger electorate that has shown more willingness to vote for players tainted by accusations of steroid use. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a majority of votes for the first time in 2017 in their fifth year on the ballot.

Morgan said he isn’t speaking for every Hall of Famer, but many of them feel the same way that he does.

“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in,” Morgan wrote. “Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were inducted into the Hall of Fame in July. They were joined by former Commissioner Bud Selig and retired Kansas City and Atlanta executive John Schuerholz, who were voted in by a veterans committee.

Some baseball writers said the election of Selig, who presided over the steroids era, influenced their view of whether tainted stars should gain entry to the Hall.

Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a “tricky issue,” but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.

“The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too,” he wrote. “The Hall of Fame means too much to us to ever see that happen. If steroid users get in, it will divide and diminish the Hall, something we couldn’t bear.”

© 2017 by The Associated Press

MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement


MLB will institute rules to pick up pace, with or without players' agreement

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Major League Baseball will change rules to speed games next year with or without an agreement with the players' association.

Management proposed last offseason to institute a 20-second pitch clock, allow one trip to the mound by a catcher per pitcher each inning and raise the bottom of the strike zone from just beneath the kneecap to its pre-1996 level at the top of the kneecap. The union didn't agree, and clubs have the right to impose those changes unilaterally for 2018.

Players and MLB have held initial bargaining since summer, and MLB chief legal officer Dan Halem said this week he would like an agreement by mid-January.

"My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players, but if we can't get an agreement we are going to have rule changes in 2018 one way or the other," baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said Thursday after a quarterly owners' meeting.

Nine-inning games averaged a record 3 hours, 5 minutes during the regular season and 3:29 during the postseason.