Thursday, April 17, 2014
The Red Sox are wooing Carl Crawford. At the same time, they watched Dusty Brown walk out the door.
Boston fans know all about Crawford. They are hoping John Henry and Co. open up the checkbook and land the big-name free agent. Meanwhile, Brown signed a minor league deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Crawford, 29, was a second-round draft pick in 1999 by the Tampa Bay Rays. He played nine seasons with a .296 career average. In his contract season in 2010, Crawford batted .307 with career best in home runs (19), RBI (90) and runs (110). He can also get around the basepaths (47 stolen bases last year).
Brown, 28, was a 35th-round draft pick by the Red Sox in 2000. He grinded through five years of minor league ball before landing in Double-A Portland in 2006. He played on the Sea Dogs' '06 championship team.
In the playoffs, he shared time with George Kottaras, who was acquired from San Diego (for David Wells) just before the post-season.
Brown, known for his defensive ability, had a breakout year in Pawtucket in 2008, batting .290 with 12 home runs and 55 RBI in 84 games.
In 2009, Brown competed for a major league job during spring training. But it was not an even competition. Kottaras also was going for the back-up job. Brown had minor league options left, Kottaras did not. Brown went back to Triple-A.
Brown did make his major league debut in 2009, getting into seven games. He hit a home run, and he also pitched an inning in emergency relief.
In 2010, Brown was again Boston's No. 3 catcher. If either Victor Martinez or Jason Varitek were injured, Brown would be called up.
Martinez did break his thumb - but Brown was also hurt. On June 22, a baserunner slid into his glove, severely spraining his left thumb, requiring a cast. Five days later, Martinez broke his thumb, and little-used catcher Gustavo Molina was called up from Pawtucket.
Brown eventually did get called up and played in six games.
Heading into the 2011 season, Brown was out of minor league options (meaning he could not be sent down to the minors without being removed from the 40-man roster and exposed to other teams).
Boston removed Brown from the 40-man roster, and the Pirates scooped him up.
Brown always spoke highly of the Red Sox organization but, with Pittsburgh, he might get his chance to prove himself in the majors. He's a player worth rooting for.
Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.
Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases
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