Kevin Foley’s cell phone signalled the arrival of a text on Thursday, Jan. 20.
“Going to be traded to the Angels tomorrow.”
The text from Blue Jays centre fielder Vernon Wells to Foley was from one partner in the Toronto-based Project10 Productions to another.
Wells’ agent, Brian Peters of Legacy Sports, had hired Foley to make a highlight video on Tampa Bay Rays free agent Carl Crawford to show to interested teams. Crawford had signed a seven-year $142-million US deal with Boston on Dec. 11.
Foley read the text a second time and called Wells.
“Are you aware, Vern, that we played a small part in you winding up in Anahiem?” Foley asked his friend. “Crawford was the Angels’ primary goal, they were outbid by Boston and now the Angels are trading for you because they need an outfielder.
“You know, Vernon, he was like ‘pause, pause, pause and then he said: ‘You’re right.’ No way was it premeditated.”
The baseball industry is full of twists and turns, but this is a first. We’ve never heard of an agent paying $50,000 to a company, Project10, co-owned by another client, Wells, to promote a free agent, Crawford.
Peters has represented Wells since the high-schooler was drafted in the first round in 1997 by the Jays.
This week, when the Red Sox were in town to take on the Jays, Crawford met producer Foley at the Rogers Centre. Crawford “came over, connected the dots and said: ‘Man that was awesome.’
“I’m not a guy who watches myself on TV,” Crawford said, “but I sat down and watched it once. Kevin did an excellent job.”
Bosox manager Terry Francona said he’d admired Crawford since he managed him for Team USA in 2001 at the World Cup in Taiwan and his appreciation for the outfielder grew seeing him play against them 19 times a season for the Tampa Bay Rays from 2004-10.
“I didn’t need to see any video,” Francona said. “Theo Epstein (Boston general manager) and I went to see Carl after the season to see if we had a chance. I figured we’d be in the running, but it would take a lot of money.”
Managers don’t need videos to be impressed, but owners would be champing at the bit. And as the frenzy continued, the price climbed.
We know of one GM who lost out on the Crawford sweepstakes and texted Peters saying: “Scott Boras is going to be envious.”
In previous years, super-agent Boras has handed out embossed, statistical presentations on the likes of Kevin Brown and Alex Rodriguez, but the video was a first.
After watching the 18-minute presentation — Crawford throwing out runners, stealing bases, hitting home runs and Bill James’ comparability scale linking him to Roberto Clemente — it was impossible not to be impressed. It’s highlights, graphics, facts and interviews. Ludacris does the voice over.
It mentions Crawford’s .345 career average against Roy Halladay and .350 mark vs. Mariano Rivera.
Ricky Romero, Aaron Hill, Shaun Marcum, Evan Longoria, CC Sabathia and Michael Bourn all rave about Crawford’s ability.
Peters’ group wrote the script in Houston and sent if off to Foley, a magician with the video clips, who began at Sportsnet after his playing days with the Intercounty Toronto Maple Leafs. Foley’s company produced the video and developed it to iPAD along with his statistical analysis.
“I’ve watched him play a lot and had a great respect for Carl. Then the historical comparisons were the last thing we did,” Foley said. “I had no idea how good he was.”
Then the video was shipped to various general managers interested in signing Crawford.
“I think Carl Crawford is the best athlete in the game today,” Wells says in the video. “He’s one of the few players I’d pay to see.”
Wells is out with a groin injury at the moment. He is hitting .183 some 150 plate appearances into the season. With Wells out, Angels manager Mike Scioscia started infielder Howie Kendrick in left. Kendrick had never played the outfield as a pro. He does have two-thirds of an inning listed with Baseball Reference, but that’s from Scioscia’s five-man infield ... Who would have thought that the St. Louis Cardinals would enter the weekend in first place with Chris Carpenter contributing one win, Ryan Franklin one save and Albert Pujols with three doubles ... Northern Light: Outfielder Adam Loewen of Surrey, B.C.,was the best of 60 Canadians in the minors this week. Loewen hit .333 (9-for-27) with three homers and five RBIs at triple-A Las Vegas (Jays) as the former pitcher continues adjusting to the batter’s box after arm surgeries.
Here and there
Aubrey Huff’s RBI single in the seventh on Thursday was his first hit with San Franciso Giants runners in scoring position in his past 21 tries. Huff’s previous RISP hit came April 19 at Colorado ... So much for there being a perfect team. Boston, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek already behind the plate, have interest in bringing Bengie Molina out of retirement to settle their catching woes. Saltalamacchia and Varitek have combined for a .174 average, zero homers, 10 RBIs and an OPS of around .500. Why not call Scott Hatteberg or Bill Haselman, who were the starting catchers when Varitek broke in during the 1997 season?