The MLB winter meetings have a lot of fans glued to their technology of choice. Twitter, ESPN, XM Radio, the Internet in general are all being utilized to absorb every nugget of info on the dealings going on in Orlando.
So, lying in bed last night, with headphones on pumping MLB Network Radio into my ears and my smart phone in my hand to comb tweets, I was made aware of the Red Sox stunning signing of Carl Crawford almost as soon as it happened.
The next thing I was aware of was that if there was a trophy for winter meeting dealings, the Sox would have it on a truck to Boston by sun-up.
Sleep would not come easily.
Even though the Yankees are about to sign Cliff Lee (after breaking their own promise to stay at six years or less by offering a seventh in response to the Crawford signing), the Red Sox have blown away the league with their two gigantic acquisitions of Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.
A change in the years offered to Cliff Lee may come with an increase in the dollars, but that has not been mentioned so far.
Assuming Lee signs with the Yankees, he could conceivably be the highest paid number two rotation guy in the history of the sport—assuming that the Yanks do the smart thing and keep the incumbent CC Sabathia in the ace spot.
Assuming the Yankees sign Cliff Lee. who will win the AL East?
With a contract length of seven years, Cliff Lee will turn 39 in his last season. While it is certainly possible that he’ll still be a good starter by the time the contract nears its end, the likelihood that he will still be worth the $23 million plus that he’ll be getting is extremely small.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, assuming the seven year extension that has been mentioned to be in the works for A-Gon, would have him under contract until 2018 and Crawford until 2017, meaning that each would turn 36 in the last year of their respective deals.
The Yankees have pushed Lee’s offer to seven years in part to deal with the he two Red Sox acquisitions, who also happen to have a history of faring well against Cliff Lee. In ten at-bats, Gonzalez is hitting in impressive .700 with an OPS of 2.00. Crawford posts only a .222 career, but almost half of his at-bats Lee were in 2010 where otherwise he has a .364 average and a .909 OPS.
Some more statistical info: Cliff Lee, since 2008, posts an average 3.5 WAR (wins above replacement player). For the same time period, Crawford posts a 3.83 WAR and Gonzalez comes in with a 5.4 WAR.
Combine this with the idea that Lee (like most hurlers) is a bit less proficient in Fenway and Yankee Stadium and that Crawford and Gonzalez will, by most expert opinions, thrive in both of those southpaw friendly parks, the balance of power in the AL East has shifted toward Bean Town—at least on paper.
Reports say that there is a deal in principal with Gonzalez for a seven year extension worth about $154 million. There has been some conjecture that the Crawford signing might affect that plan, but it has also been reported that both Gonzalez and Boston have expressed great interest in making the relationship last.
Assuming that New York makes the playoffs, which is a safe bet, their having picked up Lee will be of more benefit. Lee’s performance in the post season has been markedly better than in the regular season—almost a full two runs lower in terms of ERA.
Rumors abounded that the Yankees back-up plan was to scoop up Crawford in the event they lost the Lee sweepstakes. Now that this “plan B” is gone, it is wonder that they have stepped up the offer to the left-hander.
Also left in the cold by the Red Sox late Wednesday move are the Anaheim Angels. They had been considered the front runner to get Crawford. With both he and Jason Werth signed, the Angels will now have to settle for some player that most consider a step or two down from Crawford—Adrian Beltre’s name has been mentioned.
It has been a good few days for Boston fans who had been sharpening pitchforks and lighting torches, ready to storm down Yawkey Way during Sunday evening’s hiccup in the Gonzalez negotiations. They are now ready to nominate Sox GM Theo Epstien for Man of the Year.