Cashman: Yankees faked interest in Crawford to drive up price for Red Sox

New York Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman looks on during Yankees batting practice before their MLB American League baseball game against the Chicago White Sox in New York, April 30, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Segar (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Yankees GM Brian Cashman was feeling rather frank on Friday while speaking to the media, as he discussed some of the moves and non-moves (Carl Crawford) he made last offseason.

From ESPN:

“I actually had dinner with the agent to pretend that we were actually involved and drive the price up,” Cashman said. “The outfield wasn’t an area of need, but everybody kept writing Crawford, Crawford, Crawford, Crawford. And I was like, ‘I feel like we’ve got Carl Crawford inBrett Gardner, except he costs more than $100 million less, with less experience.’ ”

Surprisingly, one could argue that Gardner has had a better season than Crawford. Gardner is batting .261 and leads the league with 46 steals. Crawford never got going in Boston and is hitting .259 with only 18 steals, the fewest he’s had since his rookie season.

Going into the season, Cashman said Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, who also landed Adrian Gonzalez, “kicked my a– in the offseason.”
How does he feel now after winning the division?

“What I said was accurate: The Red Sox had a great winter, and I had a bad winter,” Cashman said. “But as it turned out, I had a better winter than anybody would’ve expected, including myself.”

It’s hardly a genius act to fane interest in a free agent that you don’t want so that you can drive up the price for your most hated division rival. But either way, it worked as the Red Sox shelled out big coin for a player in Crawford who has given them the same production as what a Triple-A hitter could have. Plus, and this is a biggie, the Yankees are heading to the postseason after winning the AL East, while the Red Sox are doing their best to give away the Wild Card.

Of course, who knows what’s going to happen next. Things look bad for Boston now but maybe it reaches the playoffs, Crawford goes gangbusters and the BoSox will the World Series. Then all of Cashman’s talk will go for naught. The season isn’t over yet so let’s just see how everything plays out.

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After Red Sox sign Crawford, Yankees feeling the pressure to ink Lee

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Cliff Lee pitching in the 1st inning of game 1 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Wednesday, October 27, 2010. UPI/ Bob Larson Photo via Newscom

The Yankees better land Cliff Lee or else they could be in a world of hurt next season.

Offensively, they’ll continue to be dangerous. Thanks to Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada, they won’t have to worry about scoring runs again next season (although it’s important to note that Jeter is coming off a career-low year and Posada struggled at the dish as well.)

But their offense wasn’t the reason they fell short of reaching the World Series: their pitching was. That’s why they set out this offseason to acquire Lee, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to land him with the Rangers trying desperately to retain him.

After Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford each received seven-year contracts, the Yankees had no choice but to add another year to their offer for Lee. They wanted to stay at six years, but the Rangers have amped things up and are reportedly sending a contingent to Arkansas on Thursday in order to get Lee to re-sign. The Yankees had no choice but to take an at-all-costs approach in signing the 32-year-old ace.

Chances are Texas won’t be able to match New York’s final number, which is good for the Yankees. But Lee enjoyed playing with the Rangers last year and spoke after the World Series as though he was coming back. If Texas can get close to the Yankees’ asking price, then Lee may re-sign with the Rangers in order to stay in familiar surroundings.

That would be devastating for the Yankees, who now are suddenly looking up at the Red Sox in the AL East. Just this past week, Boston traded for slugger Adrian Gonzalez and signed Crawford to a whopping $142 million deal. Instantly the Red Sox have added power, speed and defense to their roster, all while the Yankees have impatiently waited for Lee’s answer. If they can’t sign Lee and they go into next year having to rely on A.J. Burnett being one of their top arms, the Bombers are in trouble.

They may want to add on an eighth year if that’s what Lee wants.

After adding Gonzalez and Crawford, Boston’s lineup suddenly looks potent again

August 10, 2010: Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Carl Crawford ( ) during pregame action between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Rays defeated the Tigers 8-0.

After they lost Jason Bay to free agency last winter, Boston’s offense looked about as dangerous as a ball-pit in a kid’s indoor playground. But after trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing Carl Crawford to a massive seven-year contract, the BoSox have suddenly become the team to beat again in the AL East.

Gonzalez finished the 2010 season with a .298/.393/.511 batting line, 31 home runs and 101 RBI over 591 at-bats. And he posted those numbers at spacious PETCO Park, so one can only assume that he’ll have plenty of success hitting at smaller Fenway.

Crawford, who inked a whopping $142 million contract with the Red Sox late Wednesday night, battled .307 with 19 home runs and 47 stolen bases for the Rays last season. He immediately adds speed, defense and a little pop to Boston’s much-improved roster and should do incredibly well hitting in the same lineup as Gonzalez, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis.

Considering the Yankees have major pitching issues, the Red Sox have to love what they’ve been able to do this offseason. After they lost Victor Martinez to the Tigers, fans were worried that Theo Epstein may strike out this winter. Instead, he’s answered with the best offseason of any club and it’s not even the middle of December yet.

Yankees are in talks with Carl Crawford, but what are their motives?

August 10, 2010: Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Carl Crawford ( ) during game action between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan. The Rays defeated the Tigers 8-0.

Buster Onley is reporting that the Yankees are engaged in conversations with free agent outfielder Carl Crawford. But what isn’t clear is what the Bombers’ intentions are.

It’s assumed that the Yankees’ primary target in free agency is Cliff Lee. They need pitching (whether Andy Pettitte decides to retire or not) and Lee is the best arm available on the market.

But if they lose out on Lee, is Crawford their backup plan? If they can’t get the pitching they need and want, will they decide to add to their already stacked lineup in hopes that they can out-slug teams throughout the year and then hope for the best in the postseason?

Or are they just trying to drive up the price for the Red Sox? They know that Boston is smitten with Crawford and if the Sox are willing to pony up, he would make their entire offseason.

The Yankees don’t really need an outfielder. Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher are entrenched at two of the starting positions and Brett Gardner is a nice role player at the bottom of the lineup. If you were to rank the Bombers’ offseason needs, outfield would certainly not be at the top of the list. (That said, they could find room for a player of Crawford’s talents.)

But part of Brian Cashman’s job is to drive up the price for their competition. Thus, even if the Yankees aren’t truly serious about giving Crawford an eight-year, gazillion dollar deal, they must ensure that the Red Sox have to pay top dollar for the player they want.

Let the chess game begin.

Red Sox pursing Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford

Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth bats against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on September 2, 2010 in Denver. The Phillies lead the NL Wild Card race.   UPI/Gary C. Caskey Photo via Newscom

Apparently Boston GM Theo Epstein is out of his slumber and ready to make some moves. Losing yet another middle-of-the-order bat like Victor Martinez will do that to a GM.

According to Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports, the Red Sox have stepped up in their pursuit of free agent outfielders Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford. Epstein met with Crawford in his hometown of Houston, Texas and apparently came away “very, very impressed” with the meeting.

Crawford is a favorite of the organization and why shouldn’t he be? He hit a career-high 19 home runs last season and battled .307. He also drove in 90 runs, swiped 47 bases and plays outstanding defense.

Werth falls right behind Crawford in terms of best available outfielders this offseason. Werth has better overall power numbers than Crawford, plays a solid right field and would be cheaper than the former Rays’ outfielder. But if the Sox are looking for the complete package, Crawford is it. The only question is whether or not they’ll commit to Crawford (who is reportedly seeking an eight-year deal and $20 million per season) and if they do, whether or not the Yankees will step in at the final second and steal him like they did Mark Teixeira). (I guess that’s two questions.)

The Red Sox have yet to make an offer to either player, but one may be forthcoming soon.

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