So, this is what the other side of the bridge is supposed to look like?
Nearly a year removed from what turned out to be a painful 2010 season for the Red Sox in more ways than one, the team was supposed to have evolved into a powerhouse. Boston was supposed to cross the “bridge” that General Manager Theo Epstein put in front of it two winters ago and be on their way to a third World Series title in this young century in 2011.
After limping to the finish line in 2010, Epstein and the Sox paid a massive toll to cross that loathsome bridge, spending $142 million on a shiny new left fielder to go along with the first baseman they imported from the west coast in exchange for a who’s-who of Boston’s top prospects. So far, only one of them has panned out.
That new left fielder coming to Boston was supposed to be a coup for the Sox, not only for what he’d bring to Fenway, but what he’d take away from a Tampa Bay Rays franchise seemingly destined to return to the American League cellar without him.
Not long after Carl Crawford arrived, he found himself featured in a commercial where he bragged, “I’m always a threat to steal.” He wasn’t being entirely untruthful.
But, as it turns out, the only thing he’s stolen since he got here is John Henry’s money. As a result, he already finds himself in danger of joining the likes of Edgar Renteria, J.D. Drew and, yes, John Lackey on the list of free agents that never quite panned out for the local nine. Fortunately, or perhaps not, he’s got six years left to earn the money that he’s already been guaranteed.
Through 142 games, Boston finds itself in second place behind a Yankees team that wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near as good as they’ve been while at the same time clinging to a slim lead over the Rays in the wild card race.
That alone is reason enough for the Sox to begin constructing the panic room that they’ll undoubtedly have hide in this winter should the (once) unthinkable scenario of missing the playoffs come to pass. But wait, like all those infomercials selling us stuff we don’t need, there’s more.
The man that was supposed jettison Boston over the bridge and help sink the reigning AL East champions at the same time has instead been at the root of their struggles. Even though it’s hard to blame a team’s failure on one player, he’s doing the best he can to prove that it’s possible. Crawford has stolen 17 bases so far this season. That’s three more than Rays designated hitter Johnny Damon and three less than his replacement in Tampa’s outfield, the not-so-legendary Sam Fuld.
When he arrived, Crawford was ready to drive in more runs, hit for more power, get on base more often and, of course, steal more bases. Instead, he’s seen mind-numbing declines in every major offensive category while at the same time proven that he is indeed a threat to steal.