Seemingly never at a loss for providing an entertaining quote, Bobby Valentine said this before Sunday’s Red Sox-Yankees series finale when asked what he believes his team needs as Tuesday’s non-waiver trade deadline draws nearer.
“I think we need a better press corps. Probably help the mental state of our group. Other than that, I don’t see any gaping holes,” he responded.
While many would say Valentine is correct – after all, Boston’s baseball media is known for sensationalism – there is no doubt that the Red Sox manager has created his share of drama in his first season with Boston. Currently, the ongoing saga of Carl Crawford is at front and center for Valentine and the Red Sox.
Crawford – who struggled last season in the first of a seven-year, $142 million deal with the Red Sox – underwent off-season wrist surgery and then it was revealed that he has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his left (throwing) elbow. Though Crawford says that Dr. James Andrews told him that Tommy John surgery is inevitable, he rehabbed his wrist and elbow injuries and rejoined the Red Sox earlier this month. Entering Sunday night’s game, he was hitting .222 (8-for-36).
Before Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium, Crawford told the media that Dr. Andrews told him during an April examination that he would need Tommy John surgery. Though pitchers typically have a 12-month recovery process from the procedure, position players can generally return in six months.
Crawford’s comments indicate that he prefers to have the surgery done now so he can be recovered and ready by spring training. The Red Sox are not convinced that he needs the procedure, and if the surgery is required, they seem to prefer for him to delay having it until the season is over.
On Saturday, though Crawford belted a home run the night before and owned a .319 career average against Yankees left-hander CC Sabathia (who was on the mound on Saturday), he was not in the lineup. Why? Valentine is under Red Sox medical staff orders to play Crawford in no more than four consecutive games.
Valentine admitted that he previously violated this order, evidently not paying attention to the medical staff, but apparently he was ordered to follow the instructions.
Crawford is displeased with the arrangement, and so is Valentine. It has created more unnecessary drama in a season that has seen the Red Sox deal with a myriad of injuries and woeful performances from Jon Lester and Josh Beckett atop the starting rotation.
At 50-51 going into Sunday’s night game against the Yankees, Boston is still in contention for a wild card spot, yet the team should consider the long-term implications of keeping Crawford on the active roster. If they allow him to play through the end of the season – which will be the first week of October if the Sox do not reach the playoffs or later in the month if they secure a wild card spot – he will not be ready for opening day. If he is shut down right now and has Tommy John surgery in August, he will likely be recovered in time for spring training.
The Red Sox have outfield depth. They can call up 24-year-old Ryan Kalish if Crawford is shut down. Kalish appears to be recovered from last season’s shoulder and neck surgeries, and is hitting well at Triple-A Pawtucket. Kalish as he is now – and even a mix of Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney – is better than an ailing Crawford whose balky elbow can blow up at any time.
Keeping Crawford on the active roster is just one of several questionable decisions the Red Sox have made in what to date has been a forgettable season.