Why Haven't the Angels Been Truthful?

BOSTON MA - DECEMBER 11: Theo Epstein (L) general manager of the Boston Red Sox welcomes Carl Crawford to the team during a press conference to announce Crawford's signing on December 11 2010 at the Fenway Park in Boston Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

I've gotten over my disappointment in the Angels inability to sign free-agent Carl Crawford.  However, I haven't been able to get over the feeling the Angels front office hasn't been completely truthful about how Crawford got away.  In an article posted today on SI.com by Jon Heyman, Crawford states he thought it was "weird" the combination of decisions the Angels made when dealing with the free-agent left fielder and trading for Vernon Wells.

"Weird" is also a good word for how I feel about the entire Angels offseason and their dealings with Crawford.  There have been quotes from Angels owner Arte Moreno that have caused me to become "disenchanted" with the organization mainly because I don't believe Moreno has been honest in his interpretation of the events in dealing with Crawford.  Things just don't seem right with the story the Angel front office has presented as to how the dealings went.  Specifically these two points:

1.    Did the Red Sox already have Crawford signed before the Angels had a chance to make an offer? 

2.    Did the Angels make the much rumored 6 year/$108M offer? 

Moreno has commented on both of these points, first stating that Crawford had already signed with the Red Sox before the Angels had had a chance to make an offer, and secondly since Crawford had already signed, they never made an official offer.  Sadly, I don't think either of Moreno's comments are true.

According to a January 26 article in the Orange County Register, Moreno stated when Angels GM Tony Reagins arrived at the meetings in Orlando, the Angels were told by Crawford's representatives that "he's gone." 

Moreno said he and GM Tony Reagins had dinner with Crawford in Houston before the Winter Meetings in early December. But when Reagins arrived at the meetings in Orlando, Moreno said the Angels were told by Crawford's representatives that "he's gone." Crawford signed with the Boston Red Sox for $142 million over seven years.

In this LA Times article from December 6th, it was stated that the Reagins was to meet with Crawford's representatives either late Monday night or Tuesday. 

Reagins is expected to meet with Greg Genske, the agent for Crawford, either late Monday night or Tuesday.

Apparently the meeting happened Monday night.   On December 17th, the LA Times reported:

According to Moreno, Reagins met with Crawford's agents on Dec. 6, the first night of the winter meetings in Florida. The agents told Reagins at that meeting that "they already had a deal," Moreno said, but Reagins was not told with whom. Two nights later, Crawford agreed to terms with the Red Sox.

However, if the Angels were told Crawford was no longer available, why did the LA Times report on December 8th:

"Though Reagins said a few free-agent and trade options have been "scratched off our list," he said the Angels remain in play for "big-splash" free agents such as Crawford, Beltre and Soriano. 

It's possible LA Times writer Mike DiGiovanna made a mistake in including Crawford's availability, as Crawford could have been the free-agent who had been "scratched off" the Angels list, but Reagins added, "We're looking at those opportunities.  Nothing has been eliminated."  So which was it?  Crawford was "gone" or "Nothing has been eliminated"?

Additionally, if the Red Sox had already locked up Crawford on the first day of the Winter Meetings, it was news to them.  In this article from ESPN posted December 10th, nothing had been finalized with Boston.

"While the Red Sox remained involved with Crawford, they also explored other options for a left fielder, preferably one who batted right-handed. As late as early Wednesday evening, a team source with direct knowledge of negotiations was pessimistic about Boston's chances of signing Crawford.

"The market is getting too crazy," he said, anticipating that the Angels were preparing to make an eight-year offer for the 29-year-old outfielder, a four-time All-Star and a winner in 2010 of his first Gold Glove.

And so Epstein presented Crawford and his agents, Greg Genske and Brian Peters, with a proposal that included a seventh year, and late Wednesday night they informed the Red Sox of their decision to accept the offer.

Another rumor had the Red Sox talking with the Padres about acquiring left fielder Ryan Ludwick.  If Boston had already locked up Crawford on Monday, why would they be interested in Ludwick on Tuesday?  Or a right-handed left fielder as late as early Wednesday?

In Sean McAdam's highly detailed article on how the Crawford signing occurred, nothing had been finalized until late Wednesday morning, two days after Moreno had claimed Crawford was "gone":

In a final phone call, concluding at 10:50, ten minutes before Genske and Peters were set to meet with the Angels, the Red Sox were told that Crawford had agreed to their terms and an agreement was in place.

In the Red Sox hotel suite at the World Disney World Dolphin Resort, the baseball operations staff and manager Terry Francona were assembled in the living room. From behind closed doors in his bedroom, Epstein could be heard exclaiming: "Awesome!"

When he emerged from the room, he told his staff the good news.

And finally, in today's article on SI.com:

"They obviously didn't want me that bad because I'm a Red Sox,'' Crawford said. "I don't know what happened.''

Crawford said things became clear "at the end'' of talks which way it was headed.

If things became clear for Crawford "at the end" of talks, that must mean there were "talks" in the first place. 

Something else that has bothered me since Crawford signed is the Angels stance that they never made an offer to the free agent.  On December 17th Moreno told the LA Times:

"There were rumors out there, but we never made an official offer, and no parameters were discussed," Moreno said, alluding to reports the Angels made a six-year, $108-million offer with a seventh-year vesting option that would have pushed the deal to $126 million." 

If this is true, how did Boston's offer get to the 7 year/$142M range if there were no other teams driving up the price?  In the Sean McAdam's article, the Red Sox initial offer was at 7 years and $119M, an average of $17M per year:

Not until Monday, the first day of the winter meetings, did the Red Sox finally make an actual proposal. At seven years for $119 million -- an average of $17 million per -- it was purposely low -- lower even than the deal Werth had gotten 24 hours earlier -- giving the Red Sox some subsequent wiggle room.

How did the Red Sox get from $119M to $142M if the Angels weren't involved?  Could there have been another team bidding against the Sox?  I highly doubt it.  From every report since Crawford signed, there has not been any other team either confirmed or rumored to have been involved in the Crawford negotiations during the Winter Meetings or than the Angels.  Prior to the Wednesday night signing, it was rumored the Yankees were interested in Crawford and had had dinner with the free-agent.  In this December 8th LA Times post

The New York Yankees also are interested in Crawford, and Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman reportedly had dinner with Crawford in the Orlando area Tuesday night. The Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers are also reportedly in on Crawford.

This also contradicts Moreno's comment that Crawford was already gone on Monday.  Why would the Yankees have dinner with Crawford on Tuesday night if he had already signed with Boston?

I'd feel much better if someone from the organization came forward and said something along the lines of, "Yeah, we made an offer to sign Crawford, but it wasn't enough.  During our negotiations with Crawford's representatives, we felt we made a significant offer, one we were comfortable with, but in the end we were out-bid by the Boston organization."  Instead we are given quotes from owner Arte Moreno that just don't ring true.  Why is that?  Why doesn't the organization feel they can be truthful about how the Crawford deal was really handled?

Instead of trying to cover their ass with excuses, the organization should be more concerned with the trust they've lost by not being truthful.


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