Baseball Has Become a Pitcher’s Game and the Mendoza Line May Need an Adjustment

Quick, someone alert Don Henley: it appears the boys of summer have gone. The worst part about it is that it isn’t even June yet. At some point over the last six weeks you probably can remember how one player or another made you crazy and remember how they made you scream. Go ahead. Take a look at any of the box scores from recent Major League Baseball games. I’ll wait. (It’s not like I have anything better to do at the moment.) Big name signings like Jayson Werth (.228), Adam Dunn (.184), Carl Crawford (.210), and Vernon Wells (.183) have suffered a greater fall than Humpty Dumpty. Even guys who have been traditionally strong hitters have struggled, like Albert Pujols (.268), Raul Ibanez (.231), Magglio Ordonez (.172), and Justin Morneau (.204), not including the San Diego Padres, who started five guys on Sunday afternoon hitting .245 or less. It may take more than the king’s horses and men (with a few million thrown in) to put these helpless schlemiels back together again.

If this continues, they might reconsider Mario Mendoza for the baseball Hall of Fame (the American one, he is already in Mexico’s Baseball Hall of Fame believe it or not). Mario’s baseball immortality stems from the fact that he carved out an eight-year baseball career while hitting a less-than-stout .215. From his uncanny ability to do what was necessary to avoid getting on base, the expression “Mendoza Line” found its way into baseball vernacular. So anytime a batter has an average of less than .200 (or less than George W. Bush’s approval rating), he is said to be hitting below the Mendoza Line. Well if old is the new new and 50 is the new 40, then why can’t hitting .200 be the new .300?

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Angels Fans Taunt Carl Crawford with Dollar Bills Thrown into On Deck Circle

Angels fans pretty much expected the team was going to sign free agent Carl Crawford over the winter. Take it from me, I’m one of them. We were led to believe that Crawford was the team’s top target, that the interest was mutual, and that Torii Hunter had it in Crawford’s head since the All-Star break that the speedster was going to sign with Anaheim. It was supposed to be a slam dunk … until Boston stepped in and offered him a 7-year $142 million contract that he accepted and signed.

Thursday night marked the culmination of all those “what should have been” feelings for Angels fans since it was the first game of the season between the Red Sox and Angels. Some fans still upset over losing Crawford decided to taunt him while he was in the on-deck circle by throwing crumpled up dollar bills at him:

The Red Sox’s offer was much greater than that of the Angels according to reports, so you can’t really fault him for taking the deal. On top of that, Boston has shown a greater willingness to spend money, and from an objective eye they’re probably closer to winning the World Series on an annual basis than the Angels.

However, Crawford has struggled in Boston and the possibility exists that he can’t play to his potential in the pressure-packed city. Perhaps his personality was better suited for a laid-back environment in Orange County. Only time will tell how the signing works out for the Red Sox, but we do know for now at least some Angels fans are upset about losing him.

Carl Crawford Says Red Sox Creeped Him Out When Scouting Him

Theo Epstein has openly admitted that the Red Sox monitored Carl Crawford very closely in the months before signing him to a monster contract. Epstein even referred to the process as a private investigation, meaning they not only watched Crawford’s play but also kept an eye on him away from the ballpark. Turns out that was a little strange for the $142 million man.

“I thought it was a little weird,” Crawford told reporters in Fort Myers on Tuesday. “I guess that’s what they have to do when they’re making that type of investment. I can’t remember when [Epstein told me they had been watching me closely], but I was a little freaked out.”

“I definitely look over my shoulder now a lot more than what I did before,” he continued. “Just when he told me that, the idea of him following me everywhere I go, was kind of, I wasn’t comfortable with that at all.”

I can understand if you agree with Crawford, but it obviously wasn’t enough to keep him from signing with Boston.  The bottom line is you don’t take any chances when you’re spending $143 million — period.  The way Crawford acts off the field is just as important as the quality of his play when it comes to making that type of enormous, long-term investment.

For the record, any MLB team that wants to follow me to work, lunch, dinner, home, my friends’ house, the local pub, or watch me take a dump can have my services for under $1 million.  I won’t find anything creepy about it.

Red Sox $300 Million on Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez Is Money Well Spent

The offseason after finishing 3rd in the division with an 89-73 record, the New York Yankees went on a massive spending spree. They signed pitcher CC Sabathia to a 7-year $161 million deal, first baseman Mark Teixeira to an 8-year $180 million deal, and A.J. Burnett to a 5-year $82.5 million contract. In one offseason the Yankees tied up $420 million but the moves paid off — they won the World Series in 2009.

Last season, the Boston Red Sox went 89-73 and finished 3rd in the AL East. Much like the ’08 Yankees, the ’10 Red Sox were crushed by injuries and fell below expectations. As a response, they went on a massive spending spree this winter, and there still is time for more moves to be made.

First, the Red Sox finally acquired Adrian Gonzalez, a player they long had coveted, in a trade with the Padres. Though Boston gave up Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo, and Reymond Fuentes, they’re getting a slugger who bashed over 30 home runs in four straight seasons and has a lifetime OPS of .875 despite hitting in the spacious Petco Park. On top of his offense, Gonzalez is a fantastic fielder and said to be a great clubhouse leader. Boston reportedly will give him a 7-year $154 million extension and hope he’s recovered from shoulder surgery in time for the start of the season in April.

Their next splash came late Wednesday evening when it was reported that the Red Sox had agreed on a 7-year $142 million deal with Carl Crawford. The move was a surprise because the Angels were said to be closing in on an agreement with Crawford until Boston whipped out the checkbook. Crawford is 29 years old and will be making just over $20 million per season based on the deal that runs until he’s 36. Crawford is a four-time All-Star, lifetime .296 hitter, and speedster who steals 50 bags per year while slugging over .450.

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Carl Crawford’s Agents Using iPads to Market Their Big Prize

There’s nothing wrong with using the latest technology to get what you want.  In Carl Crawford’s case, the desired result is money.  He’s going to get lots of it, so giving each potential suitor a $500 gift that’s fully loaded with — well, Carl Crawford — doesn’t sound like a bad idea.

According to Hardball Talk, Crawford’s agents are sending out iPads that come pre-loaded with a video of the outfielder which showcases his talents.  I wonder if they loaded his nut shot video on there.  Considering the former Ray is one of the most coveted free agents on the market, the video probably can’t tell any MLB team something they aren’t already aware of.  Unless of course it features some sort of secret talent that would set him apart from Jayson Werth like, say, speed?

In any event, it can’t hurt.  If Crawford’s agents sent on of these things out to every single MLB team, they’d be looking at a bill of around $16,000.  Let’s do a little math.  Say Crawford inks a 6-year, $100 million contract.  If he remains relatively healthy and plays 125 games a year, that’s 750 games over the course of the contract.  Divide $100 million by 750 and you get $133,333, which is what Crawford would be making each game.  Assuming he gets around 4 at-bats per game, that works out to $33,333 per at-bat.  In other words, they’ll literally get the iPad money back and then some the second Crawford steps to the plate for his new team.

Carl Crawford Takes One in the Nuts

Any time I played ball I ALWAYS wore a cup. I know it’s uncomfortable and screws you up when you’re running or lifting your leg during a pitching windup, but dealing with that discomfort is much better than the alternative. The problem is some guys don’t understand how bad the alternative is until it happens to them. Take for instance Rays star outfielder Carl Crawford who got dosed in the nuts on a pickoff attempt. He went down writhing in pain over an ordinary cup check. Watch this Carl Crawford nut shot video and tell me he doesn’t wish he were wearing a cup:

Ordinarily I’d feel badly for him, but Crawford should know better. I hope he’s not hurt but man, he learned his lesson the hard way. Weird thing is that can happen to a guy and he still might not learn his lesson; Adrian Beltre went on the DL with a testicle injury after getting hit in the nuts and still said he might not wear a cup in the future. Can you imagine that?!

Thanks to LBS contributor Alan for the heads up on this injury and The Last Angry Fan for the video. Here are some pics:

Video: Carl Crawford’s Six Stolen Bases, Brad Penny Thinks it Was Bush League

It’s hard to know where exactly you should point the finger when a guy ties a record by stealing six bases in a game. Do you point it at Carl Crawford, saying he was just feeling it and on fire? Do you point it at the pitchers for being too slow in their delivery to home plate? Do you blame it on Jason Varitek because Crawford stole bases on three different pitchers but only one catcher? Terry Francona says you need to give credit to Crawford: “We had (Brad) Penny at 1.28 (seconds to the plate), and Jason at 1.9 (seconds on his release and throw). We can’t go faster than that. (Crawford) outran it. At the moment, to throw him out, you about have to be perfect.” Varitek had a shot to throw out Crawford in the first but made an errant throw. He’s now 3 of 29 on the season. Yikes. So what did captain bitter, Brad Penny, have to say after the game? Just what you’d expect (talking specifically about Crawford’s steal of third in the 5th):

Who cares you know, they’re two outs — why even steal there? We’re not holding him on — we’re giving him the bag. If you steal second like that it’s not considered a stolen base.

Penny sort of does have a point there and maybe Crawford should have only been given credit for five instead of six stolen bases. Still, by focusing on that instead of simply complimenting Crawford for the good game, Penny proved himself to be a jerk like usual. Can’t imagine that 7.61 ERA has anything to do with his attitude. In case you haven’t seen the Crawford steals, here they are:

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