Results tagged ‘ Carl Crawford ’
We have been waiting since 2004 for the true potential to show its face boldly and proudly in Tampa Bay. Several times in the last few seasons we have seen it show its face, but somehow slink back into darkness like it has never existed. I have been one of his biggest cheerleaders since Tampa Bay Rays B J Upton came back up to the Major League level in 2004. I have seen him go from the Rays future at shortstop that season to one of the most promising centerfielders in the game, but the whole package has never stayed with him for an extended period.
But this season the gloves are off. I am not going to drag him through the mud or even tarnish him at all. I am going to let him do that himself now. As of Monday, January 17,2011 when Upton became the highest salaried player on the Rays squad, it is time for his “game” to “put up, or shut up”. This is the last grasp at the straw, the last Fandango, the long stretch for that elusive brass ring. When you give the Rays Republic 4.85 million reasons to call you out, you have to respond.
There is nothing I would love to see more than Upton to have a career season where he posts the type of numbers we have been salivating for since he first came up for good in 2006. But that season we saw that Upton was not our shortstop of the future as he played his final 16 games EVER at the position. Suddenly he was a thrust into the “hot corner” for 13 contests, and made his first journey into the Rays outfield.
But his outfield test lasted only one game in that 2006 season. Upton spent his field time from 2005-2007 basically bouncing around the infield from Third Base to Second Base looking for a solid “home” before the Rays put him into centerfield where a certain mystical magic began to materializes before our eyes.
On Opening Day in 2007 when the Rays put Upton in centerfield to start the season, it was a second coming for him. It was a chance for Upton to get a reprisal, a rebirth, a solid chance of redemption so he could reinvent himself with the Rays. To finally bridge that ever expanding gap between his potential and ability by providing superior defense to go along with his rocket arm.
On that day, Upton’s game both on the field and at the plate seemed to mesh into one, finally Upton showed everyone the player we always knew he could be. Sure the rust and the uncertainty in the vast expanses of Centerfield reared its ugly head, but all in all, it was like a hot dog meeting a bun for the first time….it looked like a perfect fit.
Suddenly at that point in 2007 it seemed that Upton was the real deal. People were becoming excited about Upton’s transformation. During 2007 we all witnessed the first blossom of Upton’s hitting potential as he slugged 24 Home Runs, 25 doubles and posted a .300 batting average. Upton’s game had finally collectively assembled itself and he was living up to all his past hype.
In between 2007 season and today something derailed within Upton. Some say his past shoulder injury has given him back hitting habits or stances. That his propensity for strikeouts ( averaging over 130 for 4 seasons) has shown his hitting game to either be too passive or overly aggressive. In addition, his power seemed to be pushed into the darkness again as Upton has only hit a combined 38 Home Runs, including 18 in 2010.
Upton did however unleash another weapon from his arsenal as he elevated his stolen base totals from 22 in 2007 to over 40 stolen bases or more over the past three seasons. It seemed he was coming out of his shell on the base paths, but still had trouble getting there.
But now for Upton, there can not be no more excuses. As the highest paid member of the Rays roster, his bat will be called upon nightly to ignite scoring chances, produce runs and become the offensive weapon we have all collectively been waiting for since 2007. There is no more time for excuses or apprehension, the team will need every hit, every stolen base and every ounce of ability within Upton to succeed. The pressure is on, and hopefully he can adapt and pull his weight, or he will be gone by the end of July.
That is a hard statement for me to make, but it is realistic. If Upton struggles in 2011, not only could he lose his Centerfield perch, his spot in the line-up, he could lose the right to wear those Rays colors. When you begin to make the type of money Upton has over the past two seasons, things are expected of you. Great things. This team, with its limited fiscal resources can not hang onto a bad investment for long, or it could cripple the overall plan of the Rays front office. Upton is not the only player to be firmly placed on the hot seat this season, but he is the only that will be pushed, prodded and poked to live up to his potential, or be gone.
With players in the minor leagues knocking at the door for a chance at this level, it is truly put up or shut up time for Upton in 2011. Upton doesn’t have to be a Carl Crawford clone, but he has to push his game to the next level both in the field and at the plate to lead this team either from the lead-off spot, or deeper in the line-up.
Upton has matured a lot since the first time I met him at 17 years of age when he first got a chance to put on a Rays uniform. His community and charity persona has escalated and proved he cares and is proud of his accomplishments. It is time for his bat to talk the same talk. To provide stellar moments of glory for both himself and his rebuilding team.
No longer can Upton keep his game semi hidden by the darkness, it now needs to explode loud and proud into the glowing Florida sunlight. I have personally witnessed Upton’s game expand explosively from A to M, but now he needs to take the next step and thrust it to Z. If he doesn’t, if he can’t, then it is finally time for myself and the Rays to look for another solution.
12 Rays players have departed the Rays since the ALDS loss to the Texas Rangers. But if Upton doesn’t provide that spark, that needed push in the Rays offensive machine, then I am willing to forego the teary goodbye. It is that final moment to either put up or shut up. Hopefully we can hear Upton’s voice screaming to the heavens because right now this is his team. He needs to either lead or get out of the way… for good.
Common.Wikepedia.com Photo files
It has been my custom over the last few years to attach a word, phrase, or commonplace item as a keynote to what the ending year has envisioned to me. This year I am again incorporating my yearly ride with the Tampa Bay Rays by my side into this year end resolution. 2010 was a spectacular 365 day odyssey that somehow closely resembles the Kumba multi-inversion rollercoaster located just 25 miles from my front door within the oddly placed fauna of Busch Gardens in the urban jungle of Tampa Florida.
It really has been that kind of wham, bam thank you Ma’am year for Tampa Bay. One that has taken all of us, including the Rays, on moments of Mt Kilimanjaro-type highs, to the unexpected desolate lows of Death Valley, California while we all scream incisively through the zero G rolls and inverted loops to bear witness of the year’s gut wrenching end result. Hearing the collective loud thumping cadence of our heartbeats within this 32-passenger rail car as the rollercoaster finally finishes off as an unfocused blur.
The 2010 ride started out so serene and calm as we welcomed back 1B/3B Dan Johnson after a short Japanese baseball trek and saw the Rays signed their first European prospect LHP Stepan Havlicek (no relation to the Celtic legend). The impending illusion of a smooth and possibly uneventful ride seemed ease our minds as our car first left the ride station.
We became entranced and hypnotized by the soothing clicking sound of the car as another tremendous Rays Fan Fest came and went where we sadly got to see local Rays resident and Baseball Hall of Famer Robin Roberts for one last time. We all marveled at the Rays Jumbotron at Fan Fest watching the antics of Rays Radioman Rich Herrera and legendary eater Joey Chestnut boast about their hotdog eating skills while systematically standing in line to pursue the autographs of our Rays heroes.
All the while the clicking of track kept us somehow distracted, and played into the final menagerie of peril that was to soon take our breath away. The March signing of RP Joaquin Benoit to a minor league deal made us all giddy with anticipation and hopes of new found glory for Benoit. Suddenly our car took an unexpected 90 degree left turn out of our comfort zone when this Spring we saw LHP J P Howell suffer a bout of shoulder soreness that would start him on his own unanticipated rollercoaster ride during 2010.
With Howell’s injury only thought to keep him out until May, we began our 143-foot lift hill that would eventually send us rapidly screaming at full G force through the highs and lows of the 2010 season. After an incredible Grapefruit season where the Rays finally saw the emerging stars of SS Reid Brignac and 2B/utility man Sean Rodriguez shine bright, our car quickly headed into the Kumba’s signature pre-drop element.
Quickly the Rays season began to take a few twists and turns brought on by a sudden 135-foot drop to our left with the early season struggles of Designated Hitter Pat Burrell and escalated into a 114-foot vertical loop that intensely thrilled us as the team got out to a late April record of 17-5 before the Rays encountered their first diving loop and subsequent first extreme low point of the season.
It all started as the ride entered its initial diving loop segment with the team firmly clutching their pink bats and uniform ribbons when on Mother’s Day (May 9,2010) their coaster ride entered its first Zero-G roll brought on by the Perfect Game thrown by Oakland A’s LHP Dallas Braden that put lumps in our throats and stole our breath from us. But this was only the Rays first venture into a systematic tail spin as more unexpected plots twists were creeping our the horizon for the Rays.
The team then seemed to hit a rough patch as they spent a short spell on a smooth stretch of track before finally entering a much feared Cobra roll on June 25,2010 that saw former Rays RHP Edwin Jackson toss a No-Hitter against the Rays in the comfy confines of Tropicana Field. The result sent us again flipping upside down for the second time this season before we were able to enter a mid-course brake run at the All Star break . It was then that we saw Rays starter David Price become the first Rays pitcher to ever start an All Star game. At the midway point of our coaster ride the Rays end the first half with the Major League’s second best record (54-34) trailing only our division rivals, the New York Yankees.
Just as the ride was beginning to obtain some sort of normalcy, the Rays and the coaster again began a accelerating fall off the brake run through a series of interlocking corkscrew twists that heightened with a renewed Rays excitement by a No-Hitter tossed at Tropicana Field by Rays starter Matt Garza, and accented by the Grand Slam of another Matt (Joyce) to put the game finally out of reach and into the Rays record books.
Gut twisting and wrenching wins then somehow became the norm as the Rays unexpectedly ran into a 5-game losing streak (their only losing streak above 3 games in ’10) at the entry point of their first corkscrew twist. During this negative twist of misfortune during back-to-back Rays versus Blue Jays games from August 7-8th that saw normally secure starter James Shields surrender 6 Home Runs one day, then saw the Rays have to rely on Evan Longoria hitting a dying quail single through the 1B-2B hole with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning to stave the Rays from becoming the first team to have 3 No-hitter thrown against them within a years’ time.
As Rays Kumba car entered the darkened tunnel after their latest close encounter in Toronto, the Rays again got back on the winning track and eventually approached the end of the season with a playoff berth in their grasp, and a possible American League East title just beyond their fingertips. As the ride entered its final braking run, the Rays faced a 1 game ultimate gut check presented to them to possibly secure another AL East banner for the rafters of Tropicana Field.
In classic rollercoaster form, the Rays took their final game of 2010 against the Kansas City Royals in extra innings and added to the climax and crescendo of that last right hand turn by being greeted by multitudes of Fans at St. Petersburg/Clearwater Airport upon their arrival again in Tampa Bay before the ride began is last motions towards a ultimate disembark at the rail station.
Their quick exit in the ALDS just showed how accelerated their post season ride in 2010 could be extinguished. Lost in the final equation were a few special Rays moments that only further illustrated just how exciting and thrilling 2010 was for the Rays.
The 2010 Rays team ended up with 96 wins that season, only one “W” away from eclipsing their club win mark set in 2008. It was amazing for a Rays team that many baseball prognosticators did not even envision even a playoff berth for the squad back in April. We saw the maturation and confident emergence of a Rays starting 5 rotation that missed a team goal of 1,000+ inning season by its 5 starters by less than 46-odd innings. Then saw Longoria pick up his second consecutive Gold Glove while Carl Crawford finally got the Golden Glove that has eluded him.
Even with all the eventual ups and down, in and outs of their 2010 season, the Rays sent all of us on a cascading water flume ride of unexpected emotions and thrills as the team finally exit the railcars for the last time in 2010. We then had to say goodbye to 9 Free Agents, almost as many non-tender arbitration eligible Rays as the team began their foundational framework for another future glorious coaster ride.
Not knowing if it was a bead of cooling sweat from the fearsome ride, or a trickle of an unexpected tear set in motion by the thoughts of losing Rays stalwarts like Carlos Pena, Crawford, Benoit, Randy Choate, Dan Wheeler, Rafael Soriano and Grant Balfour. I am stricken with a unforeseen bout of silence as I might have been witness to the last ride of a 4-year journey that started in 2007, and will end at the stroke of midnight tonight. I had been an up-close and personal participant in the formulation of a winning culture by the Rays in our short existence. I want to stand in line again for another chance at having my breath taken away on another future glorious trip.
At midnight the clicking of Kumba will be heard in the background as I wander towards another Rays odyssey. The rise and fall of this franchise definitely mimics the twists and turns of a well maintained rollercoaster that is always pushing the limits of both gravity and the breaking points of humanity before tumbling down towards a sense of reality.
Thank you Rays for this years journey. Thank you for the “firsts”, the “lasts” and the 81 straight tickets to ride as I took my seat in Tropicana Field this year and each time It left me simply breathless and aching for more. Some call this season the end of a Rays era, I think it is the beginning of a tradition of celebrating the “Rays Way” and buckling every New Years Eve for another ride of our collective Rays lives. Now where is that SheiKra coaster located again?
For some reason one recent Tampa Bay advertisement just doesn’t seem to have a right or clear cut answer for itself. For what ever side of the AL East fence you lay your loyalties, no matter how you seem to slice it, dice it or julienne the argument, this one isn’t going to be that simple. For whichever direction your common sense take you in the departure of Carl Crawford from Tampa Bay, somehow the whole ball of wax just seems to ultimately come back full circle again and again with no clear compromise.
The swirling bi-polar gambit of emotions seem to be taking me from the highs of adulation to the brink of suddenly swirling down through the circling drain towards an ebb tide of constantly churning polar opinions that makes you dizzy by wanting to simultaneously applaud and bang your hands in utter frustration at the same time. Two great minds of thought both good and evil somehow occupying the same brain matter without a sign of mental implosion……yet.
When it is impracticable to obtain permission, use of copyrighted material should be avoided unless the doctrine of fair use would clearly apply to the situation. The Copyright Office can neither determine if a certain use may be considered fair nor advise on possible copyright violations“.
By the way, I made sure to give a photo credit on the same Carl Crawford’s original All Star game photoback in 2009. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well today, a photo credit would have kept me from writing my own thousand words. I stand up and applaud the intent, then shake my finger at the conclusion. Please everyone, give credit where credit is due…..That gets you the respect of everyone.
Why is it that last night I had to have this mind numbing but incredibly visual dream where I was transformed back 2 scores into the image of a young boy standing on the stoop outside of Carl Crawford’s downtown St. Petersburg condo just waiting anxiously for him to appear into the crisp cold December morning air.
Why is it at this very moment this the encompassing sounds of that dream or nightmare somehow still echoes vibrantly within my eardrums. Pounding out those classic words back and forth, upwards and downwards seeming to fill every conceivable crevice and alcove within my heart and soul and masking me shudder with despair.
Say it ain’t so Carl. Tell me now that you did it for your young son’s future. That he will never have to go through the trials and tribulations you experienced as a young child in worn down sections of Houston, Texas. Tell me this contract is your life long aspiration of prosperity for your family built upon the sweat and punishment of you playing on an artificial field that you despised, but endured knowing that the final payment would be that you and your family enter into a realm of security and stability you often dreamed of as a teen.
Say it ain’t so Carl I understood when Rhode Island native Rocco Baldelli signed with these same Red Sox knowing his lifetime dream of wearing the red Boston jersey and playing upon the wet grass at Fenway Park. For this was the team that Rocco idolized as a child, wishing wanting and hoping to get a chance to achieve that dream before he hung his cleats up for the last time. Maybe that is why this is so difficult for me Carl.
Say it ain’t so Carl that you have now traded your sunburst and blue uniforms for the grays and reds of a mortal enemy of your former team and that some will brand you a traitor or worse before the pain subsides and booing of the crowd for you at Tropicana Field falls into silence. Tell me how I am suppose to explain this to my teenage daughter who is an avid young Rays fan who idolized you for much of her life and still sees baseball as a game and not as a cold hearted business.
Say it ain’t So Carl that the money made you take that bloated contract that will diminish your overall defensive reputation by playing in a position where you have to learn the angles and idiosyncrasies of a huge green wall that will take away your inherent speed and closing ability that got you that first Golden Glove in 2010. That by playing in that park, with that monstrosity just over your turned shoulder will make you a better player and get the chance to possess another Gold Glove.
Say it ain’t so Carl that you expect to be greeted with open arms today by the city of Boston with visions of stolen bases dancing through your head. That by working in tandem with new teammate Jacoby Ellsbury you want to annilate the old stolen base record by a duo in the American League. That somehow you see this Boston club as the team to beat, much like you have the Rays for the last 5 odd seasons. That somehow all the negatives you heard so close to your heart about this same Boston franchise mysteriously vanished from your mind and you welcome the “new beginning”.
Say it ain’t so Carl that I have to somehow endure your physical existence in a possible 126 Red Sox versus Rays contests over that 7 span without cursing or wish ill will or injury to you. That with time this transgression will leave my mind and I will find some sort of vital peace a Franciscan monk must partake in accepting what I can not change, and having the wisdom to know the difference.
Hopefully before the end of your 7 year sentence, I mean contract, I can again envision you for what you truly are Carl. A great player that once provided endless streams of memories and moments for myself and the Rays Republic and holding the fantasy that this was all an illusion and tomorrow you will still be a free agent.
I accepted within myself that you were gone from the Rays fold forever back in April 2010. It has taken me 8 months to filter, digest and acknowledge this, and last night’s adventure will take even more time.
At least today I can still achieve a small sheepish smile upon my bewildered face for the plain fact that at the end of this huge Red Sox contract you could have possibly played in as many games as a member of the Red Sox as you did wearing the Rays colors. Even with all those future depressing game moments with you wearing the enemy’s cloth, I know that one day in the future you will wear the Tampa Bay Rays cap once again. Possibly upon the bronze plaque you hoist at your Baseball Hall of Fame introduction.
I do not wish injury or pain upon you Carl, just want you to “Say it ain’t so!”.
Should be an interesting 24 hours for the Tampa Bay Rays front office. With 9 pending arbitration decisions to be made during this tedious 24 hour period, it could ultimately show the Rays poker hand. The arbitration list set for immediate discussion by those in the Rays boardroom comprises 6 relief pitchers, 2 former All Stars, and a offensive player picked up off waivers in 2010. Tomorrow’s final decisions at the conclusion of the deadline will show a distinctive and resolute signal by the Rays head honchos of whether any of the nine have any possible future with the Rays.
But from that one secure arbitration point, it becomes more of a interesting gamble for the Rays to consider offering arbitration to their other Type-A players who might just take the arbitration offer and force the Rays hands to trade them or face some difficult financial decisions considering the Rays will cut their 2011 payroll nearly in half to around $40-59 million dollar range. But does it really seem in their past character that Carl Crawford or Rafael Soriano would accept such an arbitration offer to rejoin the Rays knowing that multi millions are lying out there waiting for their services outside Tampa Bay? Hopefully the dice do not come up “snake eyes” in this situation.
A more possible arbitration offer could be extended to Rays reliever Grant Balfour after another sub 4.00 ERA year with the Rays. This also might not be a “given” knowing the facts that the Rays are searching high and low for low cost Bullpen bodies to replace 2010 members like Balfour, Soriano and Benoit. Balfour seems like one of the two possible Rays arbitration offers ( in my opinion) that might be accepted. Then again, recently Balfour’s name has been mentioned as a top tier relief option that could hit the unrestricted market full bore on Tuesday if he is declined arbitration.
The Rays again have issued their usual code of silence that is not letting out a single whisper or hint as to their final decision or possible direction in terms of these arbitration issues. But the thought of a possible arbitration offer to Choate might actually provide an adequate Rays insurance policy in the event Rays reliever J P Howell has some sort of delay in his return in 2011 from his shoulder surgery. That could instantly open the door wide for Choate or another Free Agent southpaw to join the Rays roster with an eye on a possible departure during the Trade Deadline. Roll the dice again and hope for “Boxcars”.
That leads us to 4 former Rays players who have played their last games in a Rays uniform unless a drastic change of heart by the team. Brad Hawpe, who was picked up by the Rays after his release by the Colorado Rockies, and reliever Chad Qualls, who was traded to the Rays by the Arizona Diamondbacks at the Trade Deadline should be two players who do not get even a thought of arbitration by the Rays. Both had seasons to forget, and did not instill any sense of confidence in their abilities to continue with the Rays for 2011.
Qualls in particular did not seem to embrace his change of scenery and in the end almost duplicated his high dubious ERA that he maintained with the D-backs before his trade. Most people might point to his recent success near the end of 2010 and the postseason as reasons to keep Qualls, but the end result is there are dozens of reliever out there who can get ground ball outs with less extra baggage and worry than Qualls. A 5.57 ERA in a limited amount of appearances does not bode well to promoting confidence or providing an assurance of a relief reprieve.
Hawpe never seemed to get into a solid Rays groove once he came up in August mostly getting chances as a pinch hitter or the Rays Designated Hitter role. Not showing positives and embracing the DH spot might of brought an instant kiss of death for Hawpe. His .179 batting average in 15 games with the Rays did not instill any other emotions of enthusiasm or hope that he could be a possible solution to the DH problem for 2011. Hawpe was brought in to test run for a possible arbitration decision this Winter at DH for the Rays.
Instead it seems that Hawpe just folded his hand and left the table early.
There might have been 4 million little reasons ( his 2011 club option figure) that could have easily factored into the Rays deciding to decline his option for 2011. With Howell also up again for salary arbitration this Winter, it is possible that the Rays did not want to spend around $ 10 million plus just for three pieces of their 2011 Bullpen. The aspect of offering Wheeler arbitration could blow up in the Rays faces considering he posted his third straight season of 60+ appearances, and ended the season with 6 scoreless appearances. Always a gamble to offer someone arbitration as their stock is climbing.
That leaves one more soul that the Rays will not offer arbitration, but hope that he will eventually offer a bit of a “hometown discount”, possibly cutting his 2010 salary up by 25 percent to make him again affordable to the Rays for 2011. Carlos Pena has been very vocal and more than adamant about returning to the Rays again in 2011. The Rays definitely can not discount the loss of offense and defense by the omission of Pena from their roster, but also can not afford another $ 10.5 million salary in 2011 for their former All Star First Baseman. The two parties must somehow find a suitable compromise.
As of right now, the only sure decision by the Rays is a arbitration offer to Benoit that will net the Rays another pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. The other eight decisions will have to be weighed with possible risks and counter balances to either extend an offer or possibly slamming the door shut to further free agent discussions. Will the Rays put their money firmly on the hopes that Crawford, Soriano will decline arbitration, thus netting the Rays additional draft picks when they do eventually sign with another team? Or could it all suddenly backfire and the duo accept arbitration and handcuff the Rays to finding a suitor for the duo before their arbitration hearings?
Joaquin Benoit Yes
Carl Crawford Yes
Rafael Soriano Yes
Grant Balfour Yes
Randy Choate Yes
Chad Qualls No
Brad Hawpe No
Dan Wheeler Yes
Carlos Pena No
The Tampa Bay Rays front office and my moles have gone silent. The organization seems to have again gone into their seasonal Black Ops mode when finalizing and considering their list of targets for the current 2010 Hot Stove season. But just like a hunter, the Rays have their scouting department scouring the countryside for videos and research that will point their direction towards a few of their prized prey.
And with another banner set to be raised to the rafters in April 2011, the Rays have the young talent and pitching to again cause some havoc in the American League East. But the 2010 season took a toll on the young team as they saw 5 of their top 6 2010 salary earners exit the franchise 40-man roster on Sunday morning. The team saw a combined $ 40 million in 2010 salaries instantly fall off their books which was almost 55 percent of their 2010 outgoing financial picture for Rays players.
The main problem with losing a person like Pena and his ability to command this Rays clubhouse is that you can never match up the team again with that personality and intensity type, but you look for a figure who commands the respect and can take the reins in the clubhouse without a power struggle or in fighting. That is a rare thing to find as ex-Rays slugger Pat Burrell found out in 2009 when he accosted B J Upton in the Rays locker room thinking he had the support of the team, then suddenly found out he was not in the power loop.
Maybe the Rays could set their gun sights on someone like Free Agent Jim Thome who might command a salary like Pena’s, but could provide a instant patch to their leadership and Designated Hitter hole with ease. No longer can the Rays set their sights firmly just upon possibly inviting Pena again into the Rays sanctuary. Even with Pena’s past vocally adamant wants to return to the Rays, can a financially adequate figure be reached without hindering the rest of the Rays off season secret double agent game plan.
Not only will the Rays be trying to find players to take over the missing pieces in their roster, they will be trying to glue together a few ripped apart seams in their clubhouse character. This might be more difficult than finding a guy who can hit over 30 Home Runs, or hold hitters to under a 3.00 ERA as a reliever. Physical ability is always available within the cycles of players who yearn for a shot in the Major Leagues, but sometimes character and leadership is not their game or part of their professional credo.
More and more it seems that every time Baseball commentator and long time Red Sox lover Peter Gammons has opened his trap lately, I have lost another inch or two of respect for the Baseball writing icon. Sure Gammons is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and he has a closet full of writing and reporting awards, but recently to me Gammons has become more of a blowhard than an accurate and reliable baseball source.
For many seasons, he has been the loud and proud voice of the Boston Red Sox, and an opinionated thorn in the side of all Tampa Bay Rays fans. But that is what your opposition’s media malcontents are suppose to do…Stir the pot and get the natives a bit restless within the Rays Republic. And Gammon does that side of his job with expertise and committment bar none.
And Gammons has been active this past season to point his bony fingers towards the Rays troubles and bubbling cauldron of concerns as his beloved Red Sox struggled to climb the standings and lay siege on the Rays for a American League East postseason spot. This is the same Red Sox mouthpiece who in 2010 threw out the rumors and ramblings that the Rays were going to move to the Northeast, possibly to Connecticut, then to New Jersey the next week. All throughout 2010, Gammons has done his job poking at the Rays beehive and getting all the Rays republic in attack mode.
And you have to give a guy credit for saying something as outlandish as proposing that the Rays fans listen more to the New York Yankee broadcasts than their own Rays game on television during the season, even when the Rays were constantly in the top 5 spots within Major League Baseball in overall regional viewers in 2010.
It also seems that in the last year, Gammons has not let a little thing like facts get in the way of a good story. But this time I definitely think his doctors need to maybe do an emergency CAT scan or even check his medication’s side effects, because his recent faux pas might cause his own beloved Red Sox a change to even discuss a contract with Rays Free Agent leftfielder Carl Crawford. This time, the rue might have gone beyond reality and into the obsurd realm.
I can still remember on several occasions this season in interviews where Gammons has considered Crawford the best leftfielder in baseball. More than once those words have swirled off Gammon’s silver tongue and made their way into the airwaves or in news print.
It was if Gammon’s was beginning a long distance relationship with the thought of Crawford possibly suiting up in a Red Sox jersey and taking balls off the Green Monster full-time in 2011.
Gammons even recently went on Red Sox flagship station WEEI and did an interview last week where he said the Red Sox ownership was going to go full bore after Crawford this off season. I can honestly see that happening, but as a central media figure for Red Sox Nation, then why would Gammons do a 180 degree turn and vote Crawford as the 7th best Leftfielder for a prestigious fielding award?
Not forgotten here is the fact that Crawford has either won or placed second in this same category for the Fielding Bible Award since 2006, and was looking for his fourth straight trophy this season. Sure I do not condemn Gammons for possibly pushing Crawford below the top spot, but why in the World would a supposed superior baseball mind put Crawford under the likes of Cardinal Matt Holliday (3rd) or even Pirates rookie outfielder Jose Tabata (5th) ?
Has Gammon’s medications possibly done some form of dementia or oozed into his thought process? Could this be an indirect mind play game by the Red Sox booster to throw a shadow upon the true abilities of Crawford to hopefully draw down the going price for Crawford to under a ceiling of a $ 100 million contract now?
Seriously, Gammon’s actions have to have a secondary reasoning, and in this case, it might have just slammed the door on Crawford considering a Boston uniform for 2011. How Can Crawford even remotely consider a spot on a team within his own old division that had one of their biggest figure heads disrespect his defensive abilities in print by putting Tiger outfield journeyman Ryan Rayburn (4th) above him in his rankings of the top 10 leftiflders in baseball?
But Gammons was not the only baseball figurehead to push Crawford’s chances for a fourth straight award into the dustbin. But could Gammons have also done some unexpected collateral damage by awakening a sentiment for the Yankees to by-pass Crawford with their own current leftfielder Brent Gardner garnishing the 2010 Fielding Bible Award for leftfield.
Gardner received all first or second place votes to post himself 10 points ahead of Crawford, but it really wasn’t even that close. Third place vote-getter Tabata got 62 points or 33 points less than Gardner in his first Fielding Bible chance. Could Gammons have effectively multi-tasked his demotion of Crawford’s defensive ranking to take him off the Yankees 2011 “Wish List” ?
Gammon’s is a smart and very calculating individual, and it will be interesting to hear his latest rhetoric on why Crawford is not in his top 3 leftfielders in baseball after singing his praises for so long this season. Some will say that Gammon’s brain injuries or even mental status might well come into question with this recent blatant show of utter disrespect towards Crawford. But even with a steel trap mind like Gammons, the trap can end up catching you in its teeth instead of your true victim.
Others around baseball will see Gammon’s wild comments as a cat and mouse game started early by Gammon’s to downplay the defensive and offensive skills of Crawford and possibly bring his salary demands within the guidelines of team’s like the Red Sox. Sure it will take a multi-year huge contract to land one of the biggest fish of the MLB Winter Free Agent markets. But at what price will Gammon’s ploy end up costing Crawford’s old American League East rival. Will the apparent gamble be worth it all in the end?
Could the vaulting of Gardner to the top of the Leftfield pile by such MLB royalty as Gammons and statistics guru Bill James (who voted Crawford as his 5th best leftfielder) possibly push Crawford towards thinking more about teams like the Detroit Tigers or Los Angeles Angels in stead of staying in the AL East? Or could it turn his mind towards the National League and a team like the Washington Nationals or even Los Angeles Dodgers?
Today signals the first day of the beginning of the Winter garage sale when the MLB’s top brass will start actively considering their options for 2011. There is no doubt Crawford will make more money in 2011 than ever in his career. The question now is just how much will this apparent ploy by Gammons cost Crawford in the long run? Plus did Gammon’s ploy effectively start a campaign within the Pinstripe Populous to keep Gardner entrenched in leftfield for 2011?
It is going to fun sitting back and watching to see if the rest of the baseball world think Gammon’s is either a genius, or speaking with a foot firmly planted in his own big mouth. Maybe I am dreaming more of Gammons planting his left foot a little further down into a hidden location and wiggling like mad, but that is just me.