|Cliff Lee signing latest round of good fortune for Red Sox||12.14.10 at 9:54 am ET|
Maybe it started in August.
It was when word started circulating throughout the Red Sox clubhouse that Carl Crawford had told friends he wanted to play in Boston, not New York.
Perhaps that was the beginning of this run for the Sox.
Whatever the origin of the front office’s good fortune, it is hard to argue that the Red Sox decision-makers are on a roll, with the news that Cliff Lee would be headed to the Phillies serving as the latest example.
Let’s look at how the world has neatly unfolded for the Sox of late:
CLIFF LEE SIGNS WITH THE PHILLIES
This is a no-brainer. It was always believed that this one would come down to the Yankees and Rangers. When asked about the Lee situation in front of the Christmas at Fenway crowd Saturday, Sox general manager Theo Epstein said, “Texas is a nice place to work.” But ask again and he will tell you that, in this case, Philadelphia is even better.
No Lee in the American League. No Lee in the American League East. And, most importantly for the Sox, no Lee with the Yankees.
THE RANGERS LOSE OUT ON LEE
While the Red Sox would have gladly viewed Lee going to Texas as a palatable scenario, there may also be a payoff for the pitcher not heading to the Rangers. That would be the case if, like many people think, Texas GM Jon Daniels turns his attention to signing third baseman Adrian Beltre.
If the third baseman did end up with the Rangers, the Red Sox would secure Texas’ first-round selection in next June’s draft, the 26th overall. The only teams currently with unprotected first-round picks slotted lower than Texas are Colorado, Toronto, St. Louis, and San Diego. None figure to be in the market to ink Beltre, the Red Sox’ last-remaining ‘Type A’ free agent.
The two teams most mentioned when it has come to possible landing spots for Beltre — the Angels and Oakland — both have their first-round picks (No. 17 and 18, respectively) protected.
If Beltre does join up with the Rangers, the Red Sox would then have the No. 19 (from the Tigers for Victor Martinez) and No. 26 picks. They lost their own first-round selection (No. 24) to the Rays for signing Carl Crawford.
THE RED SOX SIGN CRAWFORD WHEN THEY DO
Part of the hurry for the Sox to come to an agreement with Crawford last Wednesday night was because the Angels set a deadline of 11 p.m. that evening for the free agent outfielder to make up his mind. But another driving force for the hurried timetable was that the Red Sox knew if they waited until this week, they might be finding themselves in one of baseball’s least desired positions – going head-to-head with the Yankees in bidding for the services of a free agent. When it comes to straight-up money, it is still a contest virtually no team has won.
THE PADRES WERE THE ONES TRADING ADRIAN GONZALEZ
There are few in baseball who don’t think the likes of at least Casey Kelly and Anthony Rizzo won’t be good major leaguers. Still, perhaps nobody valued the pair like both the team that traded the two youngsters, and the team that traded for them.
The Padres’ perception of Kelly, in particular, was key, considering any deal for Gonzalez needed a centerpiece, and San Diego general manager Jed Hoyer, and his assistant, Jason McLeod, both viewed the 21-year-old as just that. They knew Kelly as well as anybody, even as much as the Red Sox themselves, having played key roles in drafting and developing the pitcher before heading to Petco Park.
And while giving up Kelly wasn’t an easy road for the Red Sox to go down (they didn’t include him in any Roy Halladay packages), the prospect’s departure didn’t dent the Sox’ future like a typical centerpiece might.
THE YANKEES DIDN’T GET ANY YOUNGER
New York’s big moves of the offseason to date are re-signing Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. Both are good players, but, as good as they are, extending each by four and two years, respectively, could get uncomfortable.
EVEN VICTOR MARTINEZ OFFERED A SILVER LINING
While losing Martinez simply came down to the Red Sox not valuing the catcher has much as Detroit, there was a plus for the Sox. The Tigers owned the first non-protected pick in the draft (No. 19), which is now the property of the Sox.
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