Are We Cuckoo For Coco or Just Plain Cuckoo?

We all know the plot line now. Coco Crisp to the Boston Red Sox for Andy Marte. Josh Bard and David Riske are also rumored to be headed to Boston in exchange for Guillermo Mota and Kelly Shoppach. While these final four names are not etched in stone, we’ll cover them anyways.

First, my feelings on the trade.

I have no idea. I can’t settle on one opinion, or one feeling. I feel so conflicted about this trade, it’s pulling me in so many different directions. I can’t even assuage my feelings with the “Trust In Theo” mantra that we’ve all been uttering since Day One.

Theo makes mistakes. He made one with Edgar Renteria. I still staunchly do not think he’s made one with Matt Clement, but he did with Edgar Renteria. Theo may be an excellent GM, but he’s far from infallible.

If you’re trading a player such as Andy Marte, you better darn well be infallible.

I like Coco Crisp, I’m not going to deny that. He’s only 26 years old, he’s one of, if not the, best defensive left-fielders in the game, and he can ably cover center field until (or if) Jacoby Ellsbury arrives. I’m not worried about that. I’m also not worried about his offense. Andrew showed yesterday that Crisp and Damon were virtually the same last year, but I’d like to expound on that.

Coco Crisp is a force versus right handers. There’s no other way to put it. A .324/.366/.503 line against right-handers is not only leadoff worthy, but #3 spot worthy. His left-splits were disastrous, however, as he hit only .252/.305/.391. And yet, in 2004, Crisp exhibited a different trend. Batting against left-handers, he hit .311/.353/.514, and batting against right-handers he hit .290/.339/.408. His career line, thus, shows rather consistent production across the board. 288/.330/.436 against lefties, .287/.332/.419 against righties.

Crisp was abominable against righties in 2003 as a 23-year old getting a starting job for the first time in his career. Fortunately, these numbers have been trending upwards, but there’s no consistency to his lefty splits. My guess is that he’s going to start evening out and remain more consistent. Crisp is only 26 – he has yet to hit his prime years – and he’s already managed to put two back-to-back seasons of ~.300/~.345/~.455 together. He will be moving from a pitcher’s park to a hitters park, so I’m rather confident he can at least duplicate the previous season’s line. And again, he’s only 26, he can improve.

The Red Sox need a centerfielder to compete in 2006. We’re acquiring a 26-year old to do so, who will not be a free agent until after 2009. Factoring in absolutely nothing else, Crisp is an excellent addition, no two ways about it.

Crisp makes me optimistic about 2006, especially with BoSoxBob’s comments in my recent article about Adam Stern/Alex Cora making mention that Cora may actually be in the middle pack of shortstops offensively, not one of the worst, as I had feared.

Crisp also is fleet of foot, and will bring speed to the club. Basically, Coco Crisp is Johnny Damon. Crisp will bring what Damon brought, and that’s important to our club – vitally important. In addition, there’s one statistic that when I noticed, I immediately seized on.

In 2004, Coco Crisp had 491 AB, with 15 HR and 24 doubles.

In 2005, he had 594 AB, with 16 HR and 42 doubles.

Sure, his homer production decreased, but his doubles shot way up. This is important to me, for a number of reasons. One, Fenway is a doubles haven. We know this. Two, Crisp, even though he experienced a power outage, did not enter into a slump and start trying to hit balls out of the park. He focused on getting hits. This is important to me. Also, what’s not to like about Crisp’s .955 OPS in September with 6 HR? I like people who can step it up in September – and he stepped it up in a pennant chase.

I don’t know if any of you remember Crisp from the Sox playing them, but considering that the Indians are my second favorite team, I’ve watched their games on Extra Innings when I can, and there’s nothing wrong with Crisp at all. I have no qualms about acquiring him. (And to boot, he has a pretty funky batting stance.)

I have qualms about what we’re giving up. I’m not too broken over the loss of Guillermo Mota (although Mota failing his physical throws a wrench into this – but it’s silly to think the Red Sox will go “Oh, Mota didn’t work? Okay, here’s Manny Delcarmen.” … also, anyone else think something sketchy is going on here? Mota passed his Red Sox physical but failed the Indians’ physical?). I believe Mota is a solid pitcher, but our additions to the bullpen have made Mota a bargaining chip. We are also clearly recieving a better pitcher in return in David Riske, a 28-year old who had an 0.96 WHIP last year with a 3.10 ERA and .208 OBA. His career has him at 1.26, 3.55, .227. He also had an 0.96 WHIP two years ago, when he exhibited excellent control again, with high strikeout numbers. He slipped to a 1.42 WHIP last year, as his control left him. My assumption for his low strikeout numbers were to 1) reduce his walks and thus reduce his WHIP, and 2) to pitch to contact – let the defense the the people out. Considering our defense next year is going to be excellent, i think Riske can replicate his 2005. Riske would, without question, be a great addition and I’ll be pleased to have him be a Red Sox.

Out of the six player deal, you’ve heard me say I’m okay with three of them.

I’m not okay with the other three.

He’s Andy Marte. Marte for Crisp one on one is dicey, anyways. I don’t really know why we have to give up more than Marte to get Crisp. Marte is a future All-Star, a possible Hall of Famer. Someone who can bat around .280 with a .360 OBP and 30 HRs a year, out of the hot corner, where we have somewhere around nothing in the pipeline. This Crisp deal easily makes us better in 2006, but what about beyond? Mike Lowell is not a spring chicken – and he still may not be able to regain his stroke. What then?

I took a look at the impending free agents that can play third. After 2006, the only person worth noting is Melvin Mora. That’s it. Close the book. After 2007, Mike Lowell is a free agent. Joe Crede is as well, so he’s a possibility – but a slim possibility.

The gist is this. It’s not easy to find a good third baseman. We’ve been spoiled with Bill Mueller. Remember Wilton Veras? Chris Stynes? Are we really pinning our hopes on Andrew Pinckney? There’s no question Crisp fills a hole for 2006, and beyond that, but then a huge gaping hole opens at third.

He’s Andy Marte. Am I supposed to like trading him? No.

I also don’t like this Josh Bard/Kelly Shoppach deal.

Shoppach has good defense, a good eye, and good power. Bard is older, and um … worse. So the point is? If it was Riske/Crisp for Marte/Mota, then I could somewhat understand it, because we get a massive upgrade in Riske, but adding Bard and Shoppach? I just don’t see the benefit.

Another ripple effect of this trade would be us signing Alex Gonzalez. I don’t quite mind it – good infield defense, and he’s no slouch offensively. He hasn’t been pretty the last two years, but he did hit .256/.313/.443 two years ago. Yes, a multiyear deal would be a mistake, but a one-year deal? No, that’s perfectly fine.

So … on one hand I see the benefit of the trade, but on the other, I see the negative. I think ultimately, if and when this trade goes down, I’m going to be displeased. I just can’t see of a reason to justify moving Shoppach for this package. I just don’t think we’re getting fair value for Marte. I’m well aware that Marte could never pan out, but someone does not put up numbers at AAA that young and not pan out. I’m comfortable with Crisp. I like Crisp. He’s good, he’s a good option. I’m just not comfortable with who we give up.

I suppose that’s the hallmark of a good trade – each team is not happy. Unfortunately, I don’t think that mantra applies here … and I may not have to accept this trade because Mota/Riske is now off the table and the Indians do not want to do the deal with the remaining four. Now… let’s go get Jason Michaels! Please?