Just three days after completing the trade for Adrian Gonzalez, the Boston Red Sox have pulled off an even bigger stunner--- agreeing to terms with 29-year-old outfielder Carl Crawford on a 7-year, $142 million mega-deal that is almost certain to propel the Sox into the front-runners to win it all in 2011.
The news broke just hours after multiple reports indicated Crawford was leaning toward signing with the Los Angeles Angels, which, until now, were considered the favorites to land the 4-time All-Star.
Crawford was regarded as the top position player available this winter, and news of his arrival in Boston is especially ominous to their American League East rival New York Yankees, who were also seriously targeting the star.
Crawford, a career .296 hitter with over 400 steals, 100 triples, and 100 homers, has been one of the most dynamic players in baseball over the better part of this decade. Debuting in 2002, he has spent his entire career with the Tampa Bay Rays, leading them to the World Series in 2008 and the AL East crown this past season.
He enjoyed arguably his most productive season in 2010, hitting .307 while setting career-highs in homers (19), RBI's (90), and runs (110). He also added 47 stolen bases, 30 doubles, and 13 triples in 154 games.
Crawford's signing arguably makes the Red Sox the best team in baseball on paper. Boston overcame an almost unprecedented wave of injuries in 2010--- Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis among the key players who missed significant time--- yet still managed to win 89 games. Considering that all those players will be back for opening day and the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, Boston seems primed for another championship run.
With the additions of Crawford and Gonzalez, which team has the best lineup in baseball?
Here's their 2011 projected opening day lineup:
1 Jacoby Ellsbury - CF
2 Dustin Pedroia - 2B
3 Carl Crawford - LF
4 Adrian Gonzalez - 1B
5 Kevin Youkilis - 3B
6 David Ortiz - DH
7 J.D. Drew - RF
8 Jarrod Saltalamacchia - C
9 Marco Scutaro - SS
Not bad, huh? The Red Sox now possess the fiercest offense in baseball. This lineup has longevity, too--- their one through four hitters will all be in their 20's on opening day.
With a top-flight rotation that already features Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Josh Beckett and John Lackey, all that remains this offseason for Boston's GM Theo Epstein is to shore up the middle of that bullpen. If that can be done, Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon will be handed plenty of leads late in the game.
What a cap to the 2010 Winter Meetings. Happy Holidays, Boston.