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It feels like the good old days around town again. The Red Sox blew it late in the season, they’re going to have to find a new manager and fans (the angry ones, not the “let’s stay ’till Sweet Caroline” fans) have a scapegoat to blame. Of course, I’m referring to Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford, who’s already earned himself a few new nicknames for next season.
Everyone had high hopes for Crawford as a Red Sox, because we all knew how much a pain playing against Crawford the Tampa Bay Ray could be. The Sox signed him to a hefty $142 million contract (over seven years) because of his overall skill set. He was coming off of 2010 as a first time Gold Glove winner and also slugged a career-high 19 home runs.
The potential of Crawford in Fenway was alluring to say the least. The next Fred Lynn, some said. Children all summer long and for summers to come would mimic his batting stance when playing whiffle ball. And then, reality hit. He went 0-4 in the first game of the season and he never looked back. Fans everywhere immediately went from praising him and wondering how many bases he’ll steal to making fun of him and wondering what the hell is that a tattoo of on his neck (I still think it’s a sperm, but I digress).
His first year with the Red Sox was completely unacceptable. In 130 games, he hit .255, had and OBP of .289, and accumulated 18 stolen bases and 56 RBIs. This is not the production that the Red Sox paid for last winter. All of these numbers, every single one of them, are career lows. There is no way to sugar coat it, the man had the worst season of his entire career and he’s just getting started in Boston.
There are many ways that people around town are sinning Crawford’s failed season. The most common is “well, not a lot of guys can play in this city.” This is a valid argument, to an extent. It just doesn’t make any sense to me in Crawford’s case, who has played here as a Tampa Bay Ray. His batting average at Fenway as a Ray was .275, which ended up being nearhis home batting average with the Sox in 2011 (.276). We all know he hit well at Fenway and he certainly knows that too.
I understand that this is a very tough city to play in, but he was welcomed with open arms. His signing created a buzz around town. The fans all knew who Crawford was and they all knew what he could do. One of the biggest thorns in the Red Sox side was finally playing for them. The heel had become the (potential) hero and Crawford failed to capitalize on this. Crawford did have one glimmer of hope in May when he hit .304 with three home runs, his best month of the year. It was a step in the right direction, but then came the injuries. The reality of his woes most likely stem form the June and July neck tightness and hamstring issues. Even though he had about a month off due to injuries, I don’t think he fully recovered from either of them and his play suffered even more so.
Unlike past flops (Edgar Renteria and Julio Lugo, anyone?) there is way too much money on Crawford to just send him away. So, I’m here to tell you that it will get better. Carl Crawford will bounce back in a big way next season. If he can stay healthy and not have neck stiffness and hamstring issues like he had for the majority of the season, he will look like the Crawford of old. The team has invested way too much money to not try and work with him to figure out what the problem is. Crawford, to his credit, has apologized for his awful year. I think that’s a respectable quality, to be able to admit that there is a problem and they you are willing to fix it. I think that a lot of fans maybe feel the same way. He knows he has a reputation to up hold and he knows that he can build an incredible legacy for himself in Boston.
The horror stories are true: the media is nosy and the fans are relentless. But, we appreciate hustle and we defend the players who have work ethic. He may have six years left on his contract, but he only has one year left with the fans. The Red Sox are just know getting rid of the calamity known as J.D. Drew (or as I call him, Charlie NO-HUSTLE!!! Am I a silly goose or what?) and they are not looking for his replacement any time soon.