Commentary

The buzz is all Boston

Theo's big moves stun the baseball world and excite Red Sox players

Updated: December 10, 2010, 8:42 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While most of the baseball world was still stunned Thursday by the Boston Red Sox acquisition of free-agent outfielder Carl Crawford, the scope of the deal -- seven years worth $142 million -- wasn't a surprise.

Sox general manager Theo Epstein made two major transactions in the past week, first trading for slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and then adding Crawford. And Epstein still is not done, as his focus now is the bullpen.

The reaction to what the Red Sox accomplished had a real energy to it. Once the Sox players realized what their team looks like for 2011, it had a resounding effect.

Red Sox second baseman and team leader Dustin Pedroia, who missed the majority of the 2010 season due to a broken foot, was on vacation when he heard the news.

Pedroia I'm really excited about the guys we have gotten. Not only will we be good next year, but for years to come. [Gonzalez and Crawford] are both great players and people and will fit in perfectly in our clubhouse.

-- Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia

"I'm really excited about the guys we have gotten," Pedroia said in a text message. "Not only will we be good next year, but for years to come. [Gonzalez and Crawford] are both great players and people and will fit in perfectly in our clubhouse."

General managers from around the league attended Thursday's Rule 5 draft, and most were answering questions about the Red Sox.

"In our view, Boston going into 2010 was a powerhouse," said Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail. "They still won 87 games in the most difficult division in baseball in an unbalanced schedule environment with Pedroia hurt, [Kevin] Youkilis hurt, with all kinds of devastating injuries, [Mike] Cameron. The fact that those guys come back healthy, and you add Gonzalez and Crawford, that's quite a formidable crew."

Yankees GM Brian Cashman was in the hotel lobby in the early-morning hours Thursday and admitted he never made an offer to Crawford. Still, he said he wasn't surprised the Red Sox landed the coveted outfielder.

"Great move. Great player," he said.

His message was the same Thursday afternoon before he left Disney.

"The Red Sox always reload, but they are significantly reloading with the two acquisitions they've had so far this winter," he said.

Once the baseball world learned of the Crawford agreement, the focus turned to free-agent pitcher Cliff Lee. The Yankees need to respond in those sweepstakes based on Boston's moves, but Cashman said he doesn't see it that way.

"Our desire [to sign Cliff Lee] is the same today as it was prior to that [Crawford] signing," he said. "I don't think you can increase any more. We have a significant interest in Cliff Lee and we've communicated that. They are in a position to make some decisions as they collect information on their end."

Rays GM Andrew Friedman was walking through the lobby, drinking a coffee, and when asked by ESPNBoston.com to comment on the signing of his former superstar player, he said, "I don't have time," as he dipped into the muffin line at the hotel.

Former Red Sox outfielder Rocco Baldelli developed as a professional ballplayer alongside Crawford in the Rays' organization, and the two were teammates in Tampa. Baldelli, who played only one season (2009) in Boston before returning to the Rays, knows the type of player the Red Sox, and their fans, are getting.

"They're going to get one of the best defensive left fielders that I've ever seen in baseball," Baldelli said. "He's one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball. They're going to get a guy who is an exciting player, probably as exciting a player as there is. He's going to be active and he's going to make things exciting. People are going to appreciate everything he does."

When the Red Sox beat writers met with Epstein in his hotel suite Wednesday night, the GM said there was nothing new to report and added that he probably would be the most hated executive in baseball Thursday.

Of course, he was kidding with that last comment. When asked Thursday about his hatred remark, Epstein placed all the emphasis on the players and not himself.

"I think people think the Red Sox just got better," he said.

Oh, they did.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox and Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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