Saturday, January 28, 2006

Coco Crisp to Boston Trade Finally Official

The trade will send CF Coco Crisp, reliever David Riske and back-up catcher Josh Bard to Boston who in turn will send top prospect Andy Marte, reliever Guillermo Mota, prospect catcher Kelly Stoppach, a player to be named later and cash (supposedly $1 million) to Cleveland.

I'm very happy to have Crisp as the Red Sox centerfielder and I'm equally glad this trade is finally official. It should be noted that the PTBNL and the cash the Red Sox sent over to the Indians was basically extortion money. Cleveland knew they had Boston over a barrel and they used Mota supposedly failing his physical to squeeze a little extra out of Boston. I have no problem with that - I actually applaud Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro for maximizing his return.

Of the players being sent to Cleveland - only Kelly Stoppach actually played in a Red Sox uniform. Mota was thrown in as part of the Josh Beckett trade and Marte was acquired in exchange for SS Edgar Renteria.

The key player from the Indians side is Andy Marte who is rated by Baseball America as the 9th best prospect in baseball. I have no problem saying that I hope Donald B. our expert on all things related to Georgia sports (especially Braves baseball) is right when he says that Marte is nothing but the second coming of Melvin Nieves.

Is it wrong for me to wish ill to Marte? His success or failure only impacts my life only tangentially and only in a minor way but just the same I'd rather if he was the next Melvin Nieves instead of the next Mike Schmidt.

It should be noted that as highly regarded Marte is - Shoppach both out-homered him (26 to 20) and drove in more RBI last year in AAA ball (75 to 74) even though he played in fewer games (109 vs 102). Shoppach has the potential to be the steal of the trade. He'll make a very good back-up for the Indians and if he hits a hot streak look for some people to start talking about him as if he should start over Victor Martinez.

In my opinion Shoppach was going to be traded this off-season no matter what. The Sox have Jason Varitek blocking Stoppach's path to the big leagues and the rumor is that Stoppach and highly regarded first baseman Kevin Youkilis don't get along at all. I wish Shoppach all the luck in the world in Cleveland and I'll certainly be pulling for him.

From the Boston perspective - you can gauge how good this trade was by answering two questions:

1. Would you have traded Edgar Renteria for Coco Crisp straight-up? I'd answer that definitely YES. Renteria wasn't a good fit with Boston and he was playing older than his age. In Crisp you have a young guy who will be under team control for 4-more years. By trading Marte for Crisp - you are basically trading Renteria for Crisp.

2. Would you have traded Johnny Damon straight-up for Coco Crisp? Again - definitely YES. People keep comparing Crisp to a young Johnny Damon. Well I'd much rather have a young Johnny Damon who will be under team control for 4-years than an older Johnny Damon who most likely will be a shell of a player in 4-years. No brainer.

The one thing that bothers me about this trade is this quote from Shapiro:
"The question and the unknown on him [Crisp] is going to be how much more power he's got," Shapiro said. "That's an unknown. ... Last year, he was very bad against left-handed pitching. Very bad."
The Sox already have a starting outfielder who sucks against lefties (Trot Nixon - .215 BA and .632 OPS career vs lefties). This stresses the need for a 4th outfielder who can hit lefties but is should be noted that Crisp is not as bad as Shapiro advertised (career .288 with a .765 OPS vs lefties).

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