Last week general manager Theo Epstein revealed that the Red Sox had scouts tracking Carl Crawford on and off the field last season in preparation for potentially signing him as a free agent, saying it was “as if we were privately investigating him.”
That was apparently news to Crawford, who told Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com yesterday that he was “creeped out a little bit” and “a little freaked out” to learn of the Red Sox’s surveillance, calling it “a little weird.”
Here’s more from Crawford:
I didn’t say nothing, but I’m from an area where if somebody’s doing that to you, they’re not doing anything good. I get paranoid when I hear those kind of stories, so I definitely take a different approach when I do things now. It did have an effect on me, let me put it that way. I definitely look over my shoulder now a lot more than what I did before.
Just when he told me that, the idea of him following me everywhere I go, was kind of, I wasn’t comfortable with that at all. I don’t know how they do it, how much distance they keep from you when they watch you the whole time. I definitely check my back now, at least 100 yard radius. I’m always looking over my shoulder now. Now I look before I go in my house. I’d better not see anything suspicious now.
Crawford’s reaction has predictably led to Epstein backtracking a bit from his original statements, beginning with saying that the “as if we were privately investigating him” line was “a bad figure of speech.” Here’s more from Epstein:
Our scouts just did a real thorough job on background, that’s all. Felt like we got to know him real well, that’s all. I told him we got to know him real well and we really respected the decisions he made, even away from the park. We told him we trusted him with a long-term contract because of his work ethic and his decision-making, so we’d be involved in the bidding.
Epstein also indicated that the Red Sox have previously followed other potential free agent targets in a similar manner, which probably has quite a few star players feeling “creeped out” today. Ultimately a $142 million contract can smooth over a lot of “weird” feelings and Crawford did tell Edes he understands “that’s what they have to do when they’re making that kind of investment.” Still, this is an awfully strange way for a seven-year relationship to begin. After all, you don’t often hear about a stalker actually marrying a stalkee.
Major League Baseball announced on Wednesday that former Red Sox DH David Ortiz and Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant won the 2016 Hank Aaron Award in their respective leagues.
Ortiz, 40, flourished in his final season, batting .315/.401/.620 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI in 626 plate appearances during the regular season. His .620 slugging percentage, 1.021 OPS, and 48 doubles led the majors while his 127 RBI led the American League. Ortiz also won the Hank Aaron Award back in 2005.
Bryant, 24, is the likely winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award as well. He hit .292/.385/.554 with 39 home runs and 102 RBI over 699 plate appearances. He also led the league by scoring 121 runs. Bryant is the first Cub to win the Hank Aaron Award since Aramis Ramirez in 2008.
Last year’s winners in the AL and NL, respectively, were Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper.
If you’ve happened to catch any of the coverage of the 2016 postseason on Fox and FS1, you’ve heard former Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez as part of an analyst panel with host Kevin Burkhardt and former major leaguers Pete Rose and Frank Thomas. Rodriguez has drawn rave reviews not just for passing a rather low bar we set for former athletes-turned-commentators, but because he’s adding real insight drawn both from his playing days and from doing research.
Indeed, Rodriguez is taking his new job as an analyst quite seriously, Newsday’s Neil Best reports. Bardia Shah-Rais, the VP of production for Fox, said of Rodriguez, “This is not a hobby for him. It’s not a parachute in. He’s invested. If we have a noon meeting, he’s there at 11:30 a.m. He’s emailing story ideas in the morning. He wants research. He’s almost all-in to the point where it’s annoying.”
Rose also praised Rodriguez, saying, “You’ve never been around a guy who prepares more than Alex does. Alex does his homework. He knows the game. He understands players. He’s into the deal . . . Frank does a great job in preparation, too. I’m the only one that don’t prepare as much as these two guys. I don’t know if that’s because I can’t write or what it is. But these guys do their homework and they ask questions and they ask the right questions and then you put that in with our experience, all the things we’ve been through and how good we get along with each other, that’s why it shows up on the TV.”
Rodriguez, who hasn’t officially retired despite not having played since the Yankees released him in mid-August, wouldn’t commit to more TV work beyond this year’s postseason.