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Carl Crawford to Prowl Green Monster

With news of Carlos Pena signing with the Cubs, other big baseball signings are making headlines as Carl Crawford, the longest tenured member of the Tampa Bay Rays having played there since 2002, has signed a free agent deal to become the projected starting left fielder for the Rays' division rivals, the Boston Red Sox. The combination of Carl Crawford plus fellow stolen base champion Jacoby Ellsbury along with Dustin Pedroia gives the Red Sox some incredible speed in the early part of their batting lineup, along with some terrific defensive prowess as well.

Carl Crawford could hardly be faulted for leaving the Rays, the team that he broke through to the major leagues with. After all, Tampa is in payroll cutting mode after another year finishing first in the best division in the majors and failing to get fans in the seats unless the Yankees or Red Sox were in town. And their left fielder, meanwhile, was entering free agency at age 29 in the prime and peak earning phase of his career as a baseball player. He ended up signing for seven years and an incredible $142 million. It is good to be a multimillionaire who has never hit 20 home runs in a season.

Boston's New Stolen Base Power

Carl Crawford is not known as a home run hitter. He gets his bases the hard way, by digging it out and stealing them or by just running so fast after making contact that he forgets to stop until he gets to third. Last season in 2010, he became only the second player in major league history to reach 400 career stolen bases and 100 career triples before reaching the age of 30. The first one to do it was a pretty fast guy named Ty Cobb, so it looks like Carl Crawford is in some pretty good company.

Safety auto insurance prices go up when you get caught speeding, but this guy actually gets paid to do it day in and day out. Boston also has already added Adrian Gonzalez, who will presumably also be handed a nine figure extension on his contract. This offseason the Red Sox are leading the AL East, with the Yankees trying to catch up by signing Cliff Lee and the Rays sitting it out until April apparently, and letting their whole team sign elsewhere including their setup man and closer among others.

Carl Crawford should be a good fit with the Red Sox. They have a very interesting lineup, with three speedsters at the top of the order and some serious bats in the middle. If their pitching can return to form, with Carl Crawford and company this team could return to form very quickly and rebound from a disastrous third place finish in 2010. Third place in the East is the same thing as "the team that misses the playoffs". Hopefully for Boston, Tampa's fire sale means that they will be out of contention and things can get back to normal in the division the way they were before the Rays crashed the party in 2008.

Red Sox Built to Win

There is no doubt that by adding Carl Crawford and Gonzalez at a steep price, General Manager Theo Epstein is putting down a big bet on winning some games in 2011. Boston needs to make the postseason at a minimum for these huge deals to look good. Carl Crawford gives them a lift on the base paths and on defense. It will sure be fun to watch Carl Crawford do battle with the Green Monster for home games. With their new speedster, the Red Sox are looking like a solid team.

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