Ask Nick: Would Angels want Crawford?

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Obviously, it’s been another week of concern in Red Sox Nation. This set of mailbag questions covers a lot of ground, including injuries, conditioning, and managerial strategy. Carl Crawford is also a big topic of conversation.

Let’s get to it:

Last off-season, the Angels were reportedly very interested in signing Carl Crawford. Do you think the Angels would be at all interested in a straight-up deal of Crawford for Vernon Wells? I realize Wells isn’t in his prime anymore, but he’s still got decent power (21 HRs ) and plays a good left field. His salary is as high as Crawford’s, but his deal runs out in 2014.
Mark, Lynn, Mass.
Love your thinking. Who knows? Angels tend to take on bigger contracts. My gut reaction is I doubt it, but crazier things have happened. I think Wells is a very frustrating player to watch. He’s never lived up to his potential.

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I do not understand why manager Terry Francona is not using the best hitter the Sox had this year in the minors, Ryan Lavarnway. Instead they are using retreads like Connor Jackson and others who are barely hitting .200. Does Lavarnway wear a ‘Kick Me’ sign, or is Francona having a bad hair month?
Jack, Deltona, Fla.
That one is a little tough, because where do you play him? You can’t trust him behind the plate yet because he doesn’t know the pitchers. Wouldn’t want to sit David Ortiz would you? Can’t play anywhere else. His time hasn’t quite come yet.

Does anyone keep track of the number of players thrown out at home per team? Third-base coach Tim Bogar has to lead the league in that stat. It didn’t cost the Sox in the end, but the last straw for me was Gonzalez trying to score from second and being thrown out at home in the bottom of the eighth earlier this week. It was on a hit by Crawford that barely rolled away from the first baseman. Maybe Ellsbury would have scored, but how can he send Gonzo in that situation?
Steve, Bethesda, Md
According to Elias, a stats service, the AL teams that have had the most runners thrown out at the plate this season on plays that an outfielder had an assist (It would not include a force out with the bases loaded, or a runner caught attempting to home, or trying to take an extra base on a ball that didn’t leave the infield, etc) are the Tigers (15), Orioles (12) and the Red Sox and A’s (11 each).

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As much as we appreciate Kevin Youkilis, is it time to give him his wish and move him to the Reds this off-season? These types of injuries do not tend to go away.
Tony, Hillsboro, Ore.
It’s always tough to deal a player after he’d had injuries, so not sure you could do it and get the value back that you need for a player of his caliber. I think Youk is here until Will Middlebrooks is ready to step in. That might be a couple of years.

If an error is made with two outs, runs scored after that are unearned (rightly so). But, the hits and walks made after that still go toward the pitcher’s WHIP. This make no sense, WHIP is becoming an important stat too. Thoughts? Also, Josh Beckett will be around much longer than Jason Varitek. Don’t you think the Sox should have Beckett throw to Jarrod Saltalamacchia even once in awhile to get acquainted with each other?
Stephen, Spring Hill, Fla.
Great point, and I think that puts the spotlight on the stat. Maybe it’s not the be-all, end-all stat we think it is. I do agree with the Beckett-Salty thing. I noticed recently Varitek caught Lackey (not that it did any good), but I do believe it’s important for the catchers to know all of the pitchers.

Hit the Full Entry button for more Q&A.


For the life of me, I cannot understand the decision to start Kyle Weiland in the first game of the Rays series. They did not need a last-minute starter, because there was ample time to prepare for someone like Aceves or Beckett to be ready. While the result of any game has to be determined on the field, the decision to start Weiland was running up a white flag to me. I do not have anything against Weiland personally, he is just an average Triple A pitcher thrown into one of the most important games of the season. I suppose the excuse is that Aceves isn’t stretched out enough, and he’s more valuable in the bullpen. I think that is hogwash.
Dick, Bonita Springs, Fla.
There’s no question Weiland isn’t ready, but as I’ve written on a few occasions, they don’t have anyone else. I suppose they could give Junichi Tazawa a start and he’d fare just as well as Weiland. The Red Sox decided that Aceves was too valuable in the bullpen to move to starter. As for Beckett, they pitched him when they thought he was ready to pitch and I can’t argue with that. They know those timetables better than I do.
Crawford had some great years with Tampa batting second. Every chance Francona had to put him in his favorite position, he completely ignored him. Yes I love Ellsbury and Pedroia one and two, but for some reason when Youk or Ortiz are out, the only batter Francona can find is Pedroia. Why has he never used Crawford batting second during these periods to try and get his confidence going? This manager can cost us a playoff and even a World Series this year. Felix Doubront started a few qood games in the past and should have pitched on Sept. 15 in place of Weiland, but Tito runs the club.
Robert, Miramar Beach Fla.
I agree with batting Crawford second. Why not return him to his comfort zone, especially with Youkilis out and Pedroia batting cleanup? I disagree on Doubront. He’s done nothing to deserve earning a start, including not having a very good Triple A year. At least Weiland pitched well at Triple A.
The Sox hitters seem very susceptible to the changeup. The Rays pitchers use this pitch a lot against them. They also seem to double up with it frequently. Why don’t the hitters adjust and look for it? I know it is not as easy as it sounds, but when you are ahead in the count or early in the count, shouldn’t they look for the change?
K., Bristol, Va.
Don’t really know how to answer that. Most hitters are susceptible to the changeup and not sure the Red Sox are any worse than anyone else. In fact, their offensive stats are close to the top in just about every category, so it can’t be that bad.
You seem to talk to scouts a lot. Why do they say Crawford has been such a bust?
Raffi, Sudbury, Mass.
Everyone I speak to point to his complicated swing. Too many moving parts. But the answer to that is he’s always had that swing and he’s hit .300 over his career with it. Red Sox think he’s pressing. The self-scouting the Sox have done don’t point to any major problems. Bat speed isn’t any slower and that’s always the first sign of decline. I guess nobody really knows. I doubt Crawford knows.
When do you think the Red Sox will dump Francona? This team should win easily , instead they win despite Francona, but I have seen lately a malaise with the team that can only be seen as a spirit or passion that is missing? Why are there so many injuries? Someone’s head has to roll, manager or trainer or both.
Roland, Harrisburg, NC
I hate making excuses, but they’ve had pitching injuries and those are hard to overcome. Having said that, they have underperforming players like John Lackey, Carl Crawford and haven’t had much in right field. Youkilis’ injury hasn’t helped. They also didn’t get any kind of a charge from a good young player. Reddick was fine, but not the spark that a guy like Ellsbury provided in 2007. As for injuries, not sure how you can prevent them. Some guys need to be better conditioned, but sprained ankles, back injuries, not sure how you can eliminate those.