|Kevin Millar on M&M: Carl Crawford needs to be mentally tough||07.13.12 at 7:21 pm ET|
MLB analyst and former Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon to discuss returning Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford and his mental toughness. To listen to the interview, visit the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
“Cowboy up. This is a tough market,” Millar said. “And you know what? It’s time to step up and be tough. … That’s easier said than done. Some players are more mentally tough than others. We all have our own personalities and characters. … So Carl Crawford, before he signed this deal, wasn’t the strongest mental baseball player, but you’ve got to pay your due diligence and know this as a front office before you go out and get monster deals.”
The former Red Sox first baseman said Crawford is a speedy player who hits about 17 home runs per year, steals bases and flashes a decent glove in left field but can’t be anything more, regardless of his contract.
“The expectations [change once] he gets this big deal from Theo [Epstein],” Millar said. “Let’s hit him third [and] he’s going to hit 25 to 30 and drive in 120. Baloney. It’s not his fault he got $142 million. It wasn’t Jayson Werth‘s fault that he got $126 million.There are some bad deals out there. Was this a bad deal? Time will tell. As of right now it’s been a bad deal, it’s been a rough go. He hasn’t been worth whatever he signed for.
“But that’s not C.C.’s problem. His problem is to get back to the form of being Carl Crawford, being a game-changer. Hit him in that two hole, let him run around the bases, play some good defense and click a home run once in a while on a hitter’s count. But he’s not a home run hitter, he’s not going to drive in a whole bunch of runs. Let him be C.C.”
Millar praised injured Red Sox Jacoby Ellsbury and the impact he’ll have when he returns to Boston. But Millar also noted Ellsbury’s flaws.
“At times I just question his toughness,” Millar said “Not the injuries, just the toughness. If you’re ready to play, play. Let’s roll. That’s the only thing, if you were going to ask me, I question.”
Added Millar: “I’m not challenging Ellsbury. I’m just telling you there are times I question, [like] when he went back to Arizona to rehab two years ago for the rib cage. You rehab with your teammates, so I’m challenging that part of it, the decision-making. Maybe it’s his crew that he has representing him, I don’t know. So I’m not challenging himself personally, there are just a few decisions that I’m thinking, ‘It’s time to be with the boys.’ “Crawford and Ellsbury are just two players with performance questions this season. John Lester is another, and Millar said it’s hard to pinpoint why Lester has struggled this season.
“This game’s about putting the ball where you have to put it and it’s about locating your pitches,” Millar said. “Maybe Lester hasn’t located his pitches exactly where they need to go, because this is a show. … He locates that cutter down and in like [Jonathan Papelbon's] done for years and the way Lester’s capable of, then [he'll be fine].”
The MLB analyst said Lester’s rotation-mate Josh Beckett will find the winning track again. Beckett is winless in his last five starts.
“You just need Josh to have his nose to the grindstone,” Millar said. “If this matters as much as it can matter, Josh can still win at this level. He doesn’t have 98 [mph] anymore, he doesn’t need to have 98 anymore. He still has a decent curveball, still has a great changeup. Once again, location is 90-93 mph, that’s all. It’s just like anything. You have to keep getting better at this game. … You have to execute. This is the major leagues.”
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