Just moments ago it was announced Theo Epstein pulled another fast one on Red Sox Nation by signing Carl Crawford to a seven year, $142 million deal. The deal comes as a relative surprise since, even though the Red Sox loved what Crawford brings to the table, they already acquired the big time left handed bat (Adrian Gonzalez) and historically do not go on these Yankee-like spending sprees. Regardless the Red Sox front office has responded to last seasons disappointing third place finish, much like the New York Yankees prior to the 2009 season, by making some franchise altering moves.
Prior to last weekend many in Red Sox fans were sensing doom and gloom, especially when it became known the Yankees could be going after Cliff Lee AND Carl Crawford. However, after the trade for Adrian Gonzalez the fans' appetite for off season drama was filled, at least for a day. It seemed like mere minutes after Gonzalez press conference that everyone wanted to know what Theo Epstein had planned next. Many were looking at the bullpen (including myself), a cheaper right handed leftfielder, such as Magglio Ordonez or Josh Willingham, but no one really expected this. Carl Crawford signing was merely an awesome idea to many Red Sox fans, considering what his price would be after Jayson Werth literally was signed for twice his worth, but never the less, Theo Epstein delivered.
Some may say this deal is not smart for a player whose game is predicated on speed but the front office has proven it is willing to spend on a marquee free agent (John Lackey does not count) and stay competitive in an ever improving division. Regardless of how Crawford and Gonzalez perform this season no one can say the Red Sox did not try to become a World Series contender for years to come.
However, let's just assume Crawford and Gonzalez perform as they are expected to and imagine a lineup like this:
That is a lineup with 105 wins written on it. Obviously the pitching will have a lot to say about that any wins, but the point is it is an extremely potent lineup.
Some may wonder as to why Crawford, known for his speed, is in a power slot like the fifth spot, but it seems fitting since he does not want to lead off, Pedroia is the number two hitter, period, and Gonzalez and Youkilis have more power. Plus with Drew batting ninth, the Red Sox could have three lead off type hitters (Drew is considered a lead off hitter because of his on-base percentage abilities) in each third of the lineup.
Does Carl Crawford signing instantly mean this team should be pre-ordering rings? Absolutely not. I still maintain the biggest key to this team's success is the bullpen, specifically Jonathan Papelbon having a bounce back year, and if Josh Beckett and John Lackey gain regain at least a shadow of themselves. Either way Theo Epstein and the Red Sox brass have provided the most anticipation for Opening Day since 2004.