Red Sox owners: Crawford worth his big contract
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP)
After all, it's the team's longest deal since Henry took over before the 2002 season. And no player in club history had an average annual salary of more than $20 million.
This player, Henry decided, was worth it.
''You always have reservations about making big long-term commitments,'' he said Saturday, ''we have a commitment to winning here. He was the right player for us.''
Considered for years a notch below the New York Yankees in the willingness and ability to give out big contracts, Boston's signing of Crawford shrinks the spending gap between the teams with baseball's top two payrolls. And Adrian Gonzalez is expected to wait until the season starts - so a new contract won't count toward the 2011 luxury tax - to sign a seven-year deal worth more than Crawford's.
But the Red Sox expensive offseason doesn't represent a change in their philosophy.
''I don't think one season is going to change the reputation that exists in the game (as) to who and where the big spending generally takes place,'' team president Larry Lucchino said. ''There was a specific need this year and a specific player available.
''I think it shows a kind of versatility on the part of the club to be able to act when the opportunity presents itself and the needs are there.''
Henry, Lucchino and Red Sox chairman Tom Werner spoke for about 20 minutes after meeting with the players before the first official full-squad workout of spring training.
''They know they haven't accomplished anything,'' Henry said. ''What we are on paper needs to translate into results.''
Last year, the Red Sox finished third in the AL East with an 89-73 record, six games behind the second-place Yankees and out of the playoffs. But with Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury back from serious injuries, Boston is a popular pick to win the division and contend for its third World Series championship in eight years.
Mark Teixeira apparently thinks so.
The Yankees first baseman, in the third year of a $180 million, eight-year deal he signed after the Red Sox failed in their bid for him, said Saturday that his team is now the underdog.
''I understand what Tex is trying to say,'' Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said, ''but you've always got to keep your eyes on the Yankees. They always found a way to win games.''
Boston manager Terry Francona brushed off Teixeira's comment with a smile.
''I don't care,'' he said. ''They have a $200 million payroll. They're not going to be too underdoggish.''
Based on salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses, New York's payroll last year was $215.1 million, down from $222.5 million in 2008 and $220 million in 2009.
Boston's payroll last year was $170.7 million, a $30.2 million increase from the $140.5 million in 2009.
''I don't see us as a clear favorite,'' Henry said. ''I see the teams as fairly evenly matched, so we've got our work cut out for us to hope to win the division.''
Lucchino said the Red Sox paid $85 million in revenue sharing last season and about $1.3 million in luxury tax. Henry has expressed displeasure with the revenue-sharing system by which big-payroll teams subsidize other clubs.
''The Red Sox think that there's an opportunity here for reform of the system and we hope that baseball will take advantage of that opportunity,'' Lucchino said.
For now, ''We are the Boston Red Sox. We come to camp with a sense of high expectation,'' Lucchino said. ''We have a goal every year and that's to play in October, so we have a chance to be world champions again.''
Henry and Werner also made a major investment in mid-October when they bought Liverpool, one of England's most famous soccer teams that has struggled on the field for the past two decades.
New England Sports Ventures, the parent company of the Red Sox, bought the team for an announced value of $476 million. In 2007, NESV bought a 50 percent stake in Roush Fenway Racing stock car team.
''They're all stand alone entities that have their own management,'' Werner said.
The signing of Crawford was not prompted by a desire to show Red Sox fans that he still had a strong commitment to the baseball team, Henry said.
''We've shown that consistently over the last 10 years,'' he said. ''We've had the second highest payroll.''
But there are some constraints.
Ortiz wanted a new long-term contract, but the Red Sox chose instead to pick up his $12.5 million option for 2011. Still, committing $142 million to Crawford made sense to him.
''After they got the soccer team, I wasn't surprised,'' Ortiz said with a laugh. ''I knew there was some cash somewhere.''
NOTES: Lucchino said the idea he might become baseball's next commissioner ''is flattering but it's not realistic.'' His name has been mentioned as a possible successor when Bud Selig's contract expires next year. ... Red Sox RF J.D. Drew said he's ''turned the corner'' on a hamstring injury that bothered him the second half of last season and much of the offseason. ''I don't think he thinks that's going to slow him down,'' Francona said. ''We've always kind of gone slow with him anyway'' in spring training.