Carl Crawford Can Make Up for Lackluster Season by Finally Breaking Through for Red Sox in Final Week

Carl Crawford Can Make Up for Lackluster Season by Finally Breaking Through for Red Sox in Final Week Let's face it. This season has not gone the way that Carl Crawford or the Red Sox planned it, at least in terms of production out of the outfielder.

Crawford struggled out of the gates trying to make a new impression on a new team, a new city and new fanbase. Sure, he had made quite the impression in previous years as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray (and then just a Ray), but he surely wanted to endear himself to his teammates, fans and the guys who sign his hefty paychecks. 

When the production didn't come early on, Crawford's struggles were summed up as being a new guy trying too hard. It was assumed that eventually everything would click, and he would once again become the player who terrorized the Sox in so many AL East battles in years past.

Yet, that never really materialized. All things considered, Crawford has endured the worst season of his career. However, there is good news for Crawford. That season isn't over just yet.

Boston, of course, is limping to the stretch. Heck, they're down on all fours crawling, uphill in traffic and in the snow. Statistically, they're still the favorites to win the AL wild card. Or "survive," if win is too strong of a term for you.

What better time for Crawford to finally step up and be the spark plug everyone figured him to be when he signed that fat check in the winter? He can do it. He's got all the tools. He's got the right talent around him. He just has to put it all together for a sustained stretch, something he really hasn't done much of this season.

The Sox need someone — or more appropriately a few someones — to pick up this team right now. The usual suspects (David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Josh Beckett) can only do so much. The'yre going to need help, and help from Crawford would be greatly appreciated.

It must be noted, too, that Crawford isn't shying away from his lack of production this season. He recently apologized to fans in his "diary" on ESPN.com for his forgettable first season at Fenway.

"I just want to say I'm sorry for the year I've had," he said. "You guys have been really supportive and I appreciate that. Hopefully when we get into these playoffs, I can be the real Carl Crawford that I know I am. We'll see."

At this point, a couple of weeks of "the real Carl Crawford" will be all Sox fans need to forget about all the lowpoints that Crawford has seen. By doing that, he'll be in position to say "You're welcome," rather then "I'm sorry."

Terry Francona isn't shying away from putting the outfielder in a place to succeed. He's back in the lineup after his neck flared up (awful timing to say the least) a day earlier, and he's slotted in the six-hole. From there, he can drive in runs. He can steal bases and extend innings.

Another one of Crawford's bosses isn't giving up on him yet, either.

"Carl really wants to win, and he has a lot of tools that can help this team win," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein told Peter Gammons on Red Sox First Pitch on Tuesday. "I think just letting the competitive juices flow in very important baseball games against opponents that are trying to beat us will only help. He's showing signs of being the player he can be and helping us.

"… He knows what he's doing. He's taking accountability for not having his best year, and I think that's an important first step. There's still a lot of this tale still to be written, and he's gonna help us win a lot games."

For the most part, the Sox have gotten by for much of the season without much of anything from Crawford. Yeah, he's had his moments, but really, it's all about the body of work at the end of the season.

Unless, of course, we're talking about a 10-day stretch at the end of the season (and perhaps the playoffs?) in which Crawford reminds everyone why he was such a big pick-up this offseason. If that's the case, well, then all will be forgotten.

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