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Red Sox had scout tracking Carl Crawford “at the ballpark and away from the ballpark” last season

Feb 18, 2011, 2:16 PM EDT

Theo Epstein, Carl Crawford

During a radio interview on WEEI this morning Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein revealed some interesting details regarding the team’s pursuit of Carl Crawford, including the fact that they “had a scout on him literally the last three, four months of the season at the ballpark, away from the ballpark.”

That suggests Crawford choosing Boston wasn’t quite as surprising to the Red Sox as it was to most of the baseball public, but Epstein also said that he entered the courtship thinking the former Rays left fielder had his heart set on signing with the Angels:

I’ll say this, very early in the process, I had some skepticism. I thought it was more likely than not that even if we were very competitive, that we wouldn’t land him. We heard some things just anecdotally that perhaps he didn’t want to go to Boston. Perhaps he’s already dead set an Anaheim Angel.

It turned out that Crawford really wanted to remain in the AL East, so the Red Sox moved quickly because “we were scared … if it dragged on and the Yankees missed out on Cliff Lee, it would create a market that was difficult for us.”

It seems like the Angels gave him a deadline before the Cliff Lee negotiations reached their conclusion, and that played right into our hands. We had spent so much time thinking about it. We had ownership on board. We had to get a hold of them in England, but they moved very nimbly and we were able to wrap it up in a matter of hours when it all came together. We thought it was kind of dormant and we were just going to stay in touch, and five hours later, it was done.

There have been reports that the Angels matched the Red Sox’s seven-year, $142 million offer, but other reports have disputed that and Crawford has indicated that staying in the AL East was definitely a priority.

  1. jh0088 - Feb 18, 2011 at 2:38 PM

    They had a scout on him AWAY from the ballpark?!

    That’s called a Private Investigator. Just what the hell were the Red Sox thinking? That it is okay to follow players around to see what they are doing in their personal lives away from the game? Did they also take pictures of him in private and public? Did Crawford KNOW about the scout watching him away from the ballpark, or was he following him covertly to see what kind of person Crawford might be before they made a big offer?

    What about tapping his phones? Hacking his email account? What’s next?

    I’m basically shocked and appalled by the notion that they ““had a scout on him literally the last three, four months of the season at the ballpark, away from the ballpark.”

    Isn’t this a massive invasion of privacy? Craig, any thoughts?

    • fieldingmellish - Feb 18, 2011 at 2:44 PM

      I think it’s pretty safe to assume Theo meant both in Tampa Bay and when Tampa Bay was on the road. I gotta think if Crawford was being tailed by a creepy dude in a replica Tim Naehring jersey, he may have chosen the Angels after all…

    • projectshadow316 - Feb 18, 2011 at 2:46 PM

      I understand the “away from the ballpark” bit. You don’t need to bring in anyone that will stir up any kind of negative press for your team ( ala Pacman Jones ). It shows that the Red Sox don’t **** around when it comes to scouting someone they really want. Can’t wait to see how Crawford performs in Fenway….this time on our team.

    • Ari Collins - Feb 18, 2011 at 2:47 PM

      I’m just guessing everything was on the up and up. I don’t think it’s likely Theo REALLY meant, “So yeah, we were following him around, questioning his friends and relatives to see if he had any connections to the Communist Party, digging through his trash to see if we could see find any receipts for women’s clothing, and so on. No big deal, guys, we do this with every potential free agent signing.”

      • spudchukar - Feb 18, 2011 at 2:55 PM

        NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO, this is not okay. This is the best in a long line of reasons to loath the Sox. Baseball players have three responsibilities, 1) Show up on time in relatively good shape. 2) Play your heart out for the required time you are on the field. 3) Maintain some measure of decorum with your teammates. A Memo to Management: If I do these three things, stay the F***, out of my life!

      • Ari Collins - Feb 18, 2011 at 3:02 PM

        I… I don’t think you understood my comment. Or responded to the wrong one?

        Also, what reasons are there to loath the Sox?

      • spudchukar - Feb 18, 2011 at 3:23 PM

        Ari, I don’t give a rat’s ass if off the field my left fielder wants to emulate Lady Gaga, or salute Chairman Mao or both. As long as he can compartmentalize, once he dons the uniform, and perform admirably, he can sing duets with Marilyn Manson, while toting a hammer and sickle, and salute the motherland with his cross-dressing Comrads.

      • Ari Collins - Feb 18, 2011 at 3:49 PM

        Did you see the part where I had that in joking quotes from Theo?

        I completely agree with you. I loved Manny when he was in Boston, because he did much better things on the field than the negative things he did on the field (which did exist) or the overblown off-the-field stuff. I even like A-Rod despite how phony he seems. Guy can kind of hit the ball.

        What I was asking is what you loathe about the Red Sox that’s actually something based in reality.

      • spudchukar - Feb 18, 2011 at 4:56 PM

        I guess I missed the quotation marks, so my bad. My apologies, been reading Lewis Black all day, so there is my excuse, but I still stand by my comments whole-heartedly. Incidentally, when did baseball deteriorate into the provincial domains of the fundamentalist Christian, the intolerant heterosexual and the inhumane capitalistic? Was this another 80’s thing that got by me when I was exploring other realities?

      • spudchukar - Feb 18, 2011 at 5:01 PM

        Oh, yeah Ari, about the Red Sox. I used to be ambiguous in my feelings toward the Beantown Boys, but I don’t think Bostonians are displaying the virtues of good winners. I know it is new and all, and I guess there is a plausible excuse that after all those years chasing after the Yanks, that once you caught them you would emulate their behavior. But you don’t have to.

  2. thinman61 - Feb 18, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    John Henry is a very family oriented guy. One of the ways Derek Lowe punched his ticket out of town was by bringing a woman not his wife to a team function. If there are skeletons in the closet, the team would want to know about them up front.

  3. heyblueyoustink - Feb 18, 2011 at 2:48 PM

    This is kind of Orwellian, isn’t it?

    Were they worried about off the field issues? I never heard of any from Crawford, and these days 1 $140 million investment requires a little investigation I suppose…..but I wonder just how paparazzi they went?

    Good thing they don’t send out investigators for guys making relative chump change in the world

  4. jh0088 - Feb 18, 2011 at 3:04 PM

    This is just messed up. There is no reason to follow someone around AWAY from the ballpark just to see what he is up to. It’s creepy and I would LOVE to hear what Crawford or any player thinks about this.

    Would Jeter be okay if the Yanks sent a PI to follow him around? Arod? Bonds? Is it okay if the Rangers followed Josh Hamilton or Ron Washington around with a “scout” to see if they are going to get in trouble with drugs again?

    this whole thing should alarm lots of people.

    • db105 - Feb 18, 2011 at 8:49 PM

      If you were investing this type of money you’d want to make sure all is good. What the player does off the field is a major factor since he will be representing your organization.

  5. Ari Collins - Feb 18, 2011 at 3:12 PM

    The alarmists here are kind of amusing. And kind of frightening. You should really look at what you’re jumping over on your way to the conclusion.

    • thinman61 - Feb 18, 2011 at 3:26 PM

      I’m betting the Tigers are wishing they’d done that kind of due diligence on Miggy Cabrera right about now.

  6. hermitfool - Feb 18, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    I’m shocked, shocked that anyone is shocked by a major league baseball team wanting a complete personal profile on a future employee. Isn’t this the kind of detailed information we expect scouts to provide on potential draft choices or potential trade candidates? If the BoSox failed to complete due diligence on a high dollar free agent and he turned up in a dress swigging booze during a DUI arrest wouldn’t they look danged foolish?

    • cur68 - Feb 18, 2011 at 10:45 PM

      Actually I’m shocked no one’s asking the Sox to explain WTF they meant by ‘following him away from the park”. Once I’m certain that they were dogging the guy’s every footstep, lapel camera and shoe phone at the ready, then I might be prepared to call this a bit too much of an invasion of his privacy. Till then, they could just mean scouting him at practice sessions with trainers, road games, baseball related activities like charity work etc.

  7. Glenn - Feb 18, 2011 at 3:27 PM

    Why does the Red Sox brass always have to brag about how smart they are? Shut up and keep the secrets and methods to yourself so you can use them again already.

  8. uyf1950 - Feb 18, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    It seems to me that I can certainly understand the Sox wanting to be sure of a players character especially one that was going to cost them over $100MM the “tracking of a player for 3 or 4 months” seems very excessive. Boarding on stalking. I would think the Red Sox certainly had as much information as they needed, wanted or ever could have expected within the first 30 days. Especially in the case of Crawford since there has never been even the slightest hint of a character flaw or issue. I don’t see any justification for following a player around for 3 or 4 months if it’s to determine his “character” as some have suggested.

    • spudchukar - Feb 18, 2011 at 5:50 PM

      Here! Here! You Go, UYF.

      • uyf1950 - Feb 18, 2011 at 5:54 PM

        I try to be objective, my friend.

  9. drunkenhooliganism - Feb 18, 2011 at 7:37 PM

    I don’t blame the sox for doing this, but if I were the players’ union I would make this practice stop immediately. Hiring a private detective to follow around a rival team’s player is not right. What if they did find something? What if he liked the company of men or cheated on his wife or watched soccer? They were fighting the rays for a playoff spot last year.

    • jh0088 - Feb 18, 2011 at 7:50 PM

      exactly! A background check is one thing, but what if they really did find something? You are right that I think this is a thing the player’s union really needs to addres asap.

      And Craig, how about you try to get a comment on how Crawford feels about the Red Sox secretly following him around the final few months of the season from his agent? This is a much better story than the Dykstra thing.

      • drunkenhooliganism - Feb 18, 2011 at 8:32 PM

        I know that I’m taking the slippery slope too far when I wonder if the team that digs up dirt on a player could use it against him in negotiations. Not so much as take 50 cents on the dollar to sign here, but more like “If you sign with the yankees, this news might get leaked.” I’d think that these guys were above that, but I’m not sure if the Wilpons or McCourts know what a moral is.

        I know I’m reaching, but if I was the Players’ Union I would make this stop immediately just to assure that this is not even a possibility.

    • jh0088 - Feb 18, 2011 at 9:21 PM

      I don’t think that’s a reach at all. I’m sure teams have conducted background checks on players in the past and found things they didn’t like. But to have someone followed by a “scout” without his knowledge is something beyond what I think a reasonable person should expect, no matter what they are being paid.

      This is one step away from setting up a player to do something bad in order to get out of a bad contract. Remember how “The Firm” had a sexy girl seduce Tom Cruise and then threatened to show the pics to his wife if he didn’t play ball? That’s the next step here.

      The more time Theo spends in Boston, the more he is coming off like Pete Postlethwaite (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000592/), the “Florist” from that movie The Town.

  10. indaburg - Feb 18, 2011 at 9:08 PM

    It does seem kind of creepy. Crawford’s been around for 10 years. Tampa Bay offers lots in the ways of sinnin’. If there was any dirt on him, it would have have already been known in today’s zero privacy tell all society. The only thing on him that I’ve heard is he likes to smoke weed.

  11. evanpenn - Feb 18, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    The alarmists are comical indeed. Mr. Epstein was only implying that the Red Sox did a personal profile of Crawford, looking for red flags. This is done by every team in professional sports for every prospective signing, no exceptions. If an owner of a team asks to see the personal profile of a prospective signing, and the GM doesn’t have one…that GM should be fired on the spot.

    • jh0088 - Feb 18, 2011 at 11:04 PM

      funny, how come no one has ever heard of following someone with a “scout” around in his personal life before? This is a big deal because this ISN”T how it’s done.

      You want to do a background check, do one. Interview his friends and family, run a credit check, do a blood test, whatever. But don’t send someone out to follow the guy around for four months watching what he is doing, that is where the problem lies.

      My father in law works on the electronics for defense system satellites. He is the head scientist at a pretty important defense contractor. When his DoD security clearance needed to be renewed he asked – way ahead of time – if I would mind being interviewed by the investigator doing the background check. I said sure, and someone called me a few days later to set up an appointment.

      A very nice investigator came to my office and asked me a lot of questions about my father-in-law. Some personal, some professional and bunch about his finances. I know for a fact this guy spoke to almost everyone in our family, some friends and the people at the company my father-in-law works.

      It was on the level and above board. That’s how you run a background check. You don’t have people follow a player around in secret.

      I still want to hear from Crawford about this and if he knew what was going on.

      • drunkenhooliganism - Feb 19, 2011 at 9:01 AM

        You’re cool with the Red Sox following him around for months while he was still playing for the Rays?

      • drunkenhooliganism - Feb 19, 2011 at 9:02 AM

        that reply is to evanpenn, not, jh

  12. mvd513 - Feb 19, 2011 at 4:14 AM

    I dont know. If I was going to give someone $100 Million +, I’d feel it was ok to hire someone to follow them around for a couple months.

  13. uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    QUESTION: Why is what the Sox did in this case not considered “tampering”? Crawford was still under contract to and playing for the Rays. It’s not as if the Red Sox sent a scout to watch him at the games (home and away), but according to the article they followed him around for 3 or 4 months.

  14. shlomo1977 - Feb 19, 2011 at 4:30 PM

    MLB teams employ Private Investigator’s all season long to follow their own players just in case they get into trouble after a game.

    • uyf1950 - Feb 19, 2011 at 5:56 PM

      The operative words in your post “their own players”. Crawford was NOT a Red Sox player.

    • jh0088 - Feb 19, 2011 at 6:23 PM

      Shlomo, they do what?

      I’ve never heard of any team following their players around with a PI. Where have you heard this? Link an article or some kind of proof. If this happened, firstly, no one would ever get themselves in the situations they do. And secondly, if the players don’t know about and approve that practice ahead of time then the team is infringing on their right to privacy.

      At no time, just beause you are paid a lot of money, is it okay to spy on your employees. It’s completely illegal.

  15. evanpenn - Feb 19, 2011 at 10:16 PM

    What makes the details in the article “interesting”, is not that the Red Sox somehow did something wrong, but that the Red Sox interest level was so high early on. That is the significance of the article. The discussion is focused on something which is a non-issue, and it seems most missed the article’s whole point.

    But, nonetheless:
    Private Investigators are completely legal. As long as they stay on public property and don’t trespass, they can do what they like, including taking pictures.

    Theo never mentioned a PI, he said “a scout.”

    When Theo said “away from the ballpark”, I assume he was referring to public functions that Crawford attended away from the ballpark.

    The internet is funny.

    • uyf1950 - Feb 20, 2011 at 10:52 AM

      It’s funny your definition of a Private Investigator (PI) isn’t really any different then the definition of a stalker.

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