March 3, 2012

Every Time Crawford Talks, He Digs A Deeper Hole

Carl Crawford signed a massive contract to play for the Red Sox and then had the worst season of his career.

He had a dismal April (.155/.204/.227) and even a relatively decent few months (May, August) could not rescue his lost season. His on-base percentage never rose higher than .295 all season and his inability to catch Robert Andino's sinking line drive in Baltimore on September 28 was the rotten cherry atop the shit sundae that was his summer.

The 7/142 contract was excessive for a man of Crawford's talents, so he has to perform at peak ability to even begin to justify Theo Epstein's outlandish outlay. And he's got a long way to go.

Since he arrived in camp, Crawford has expressed his honest feelings about John Henry's off-season comments that the Red Sox owner was against signing Crawford. Since then, most of what Crawford has been saying will not help him get on the good side of Red Sox fans. Every time he talks, he seems to dig himself a deeper hole. It's probably time for Crawford simply to keep his mouth shut.

Last week we read this, from Yahoo!'s Steve Silverman:
[A]t the start of spring training in 2011, Crawford had a new batting approach. His stance had opened up significantly and his right foot was pointing almost directly at first base as he took his left-handed stance. [Boston Red Sox batting coach Dave] Magadan had advised Crawford that he had opened up too much and he was pulling off the ball too quickly when he took his stride.

Crawford listened politely but never really paid attention. He felt more comfortable in the batter's box even if the results left him and the team unsatisfied. ... During the offseason, Crawford studied films of himself and he saw that Magadan had been correct and his stance was too wide open.
Magadan said he periodically mentioned the poor stance to Crawford throughout the season (and now-manager Bobby Valentine had mentioned it publicly on ESPN broadcasts), but even a months-long slump was not enough to get the left fielder to listen. Magadan:
[W]e would bring it up to him during the season when he was scuffling, but he always felt like he was in a good spot.
After a fiasco like 2011, you'd think Crawford would simply come to camp and work his ass off to get himself back to even being an average hitter. But then he explained how embarrassing it was for him to bat 6th or (gasp!) 7th in the lineup because opposing players would rag on him and all he figured he could to was swing for the fences.
There's nothing else you can do [but try to hit home runs]. A lot of the other teams, they would come and tell me, you know, they were like "we hope they leave you in the seventh hole because we're not afraid of you at all there. You don't intimidate us at all. You can't hit a triple, you're not probably going to hit a double. And you don't hit that many home runs. You can't do nothing, really." And to hear that from your peers gives you a feeling on the inside that you just, you know, you just can't hit there. And I mean, it's true.
As WEEI's Kirk Minihane points out, Crawford's biggest problem with hitting down in the order is that it embarrasses him in front of opposing players. I'd say Crawford and his .289 OBP were lucky to even be in the lineup. Could someone please explain to Crawford that it is not against MLB rules to get an extra-base hit that far down in the order? Hopefully, it won't take another entire season and some 2013 video time before Crawford absorbs that bit of wisdom.

And now Crawford has inflammation in his left wrist because he was "over-working it", pushing his recovery from wrist surgery too hard. Some recent bunting drills has caused him pain and set his timetable back. But don't worry, NOW he knows not to push it.
It was pretty much myself trying to push it a little bit. Probably shouldn't have done as much as I was doing. But it was feeling so good at first I thought I could just keep going and keep going. Now I know what kind of pace I have to do things at. Once the inflammation goes down I know not to try and push it.
Finally, a week or so ago, CSNNE showed video of Crawford taking two-handed swings in the cage while playing audio of Bobby Valentine saying Crawford wouldn't be swinging with two hands yet.

This is maddening. I know an athlete has to test himself as he recovers to see how much progress is being made. But Crawford's quotes make him seem a bit stupid about the entire process. In light of the CSNNE clip, a few SoSHers wonder if Crawford is on his own private schedule, separate from the team's plans, striving to be in the Opening Day lineup.

Someone needs to sit him down and say that's not going to happen. Shoot for April 15 or May 1. And then someone should keep an eye on him, so he follows the plan. Or we will have yet another season for which Crawford can say he was "sorry" for some possible DL time and his poor performance.


Section 36 said...

Did we all say that to Pedroia when he was taking grounders with a broken foot? That was him pushing too hard to get back too. And, it hurt him.

allan said...

While the media was tripping all over itself to praise FY as a gritty throwback to a golden era when players would still get out there are practice even if they were 3/4 dead, unlike that slacker whiny baby boo-boo ribs Ellsbury.