24 January 2006

Welcoming Covelli Loyce, Sopranos, MVP Review a-Comin...

It appears more or less inevitable now that, permutations of other random players aside, the Red Sox are set to acquire OF Coco Crisp from the Cleveland Indians for 3B Andy Marte, the return on Edgar Renteria not two months ago.

This is a tough trade to swallow for me, to be honest. Fully admitting that Coco is young, extremely talented, on the rise and relatively cost-controlled for the next four years (he's a Super Two) and owner of one of the ten greatest names in baseball history- to me, Andy Marte is too much to give up.

Ultimately there has to be an assessment of value moving forward- who, in their respective careers in Boston will represent more value? Currently Crisp can play at a position of need (CF) and has proven succes in MLB (810 OPS in pitching friendly Jacobs Field). However- Andy Marte is a perennial All-Star candidate, a player who's ceiling- though not nearly guaranteed- dwarfs even Crisp's. He has tremendous power (leading the International League AAA in HRs at 21 as the youngest player in it), developing plate discipline, and a great glove. In fact, I chronicled Marte's gifts here upon our acquiring him.

This is that classic balancing of factors in a trade- would one rather the vast potential, not yet realized, of Andy Marte, or the less promising but realized potential of Coco Crisp- who fills a direct need? This question actually arose in November, when the Red Sox traded Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez for Josh Beckett, a trade I was strongly in favor of. In that case, I felt we were dealing the two prospects in our top ten most susceptible to "hype"- two players that have every chance to be good, but set against their projections and who we were acquiring, I thought it worthwhile. I still do.

At this point, I consider the opposite to be true in this trade. Andy Marte, to me, projects as a special player. His age, his lack of a single statistical blot on any significant sample space anywhere on his professional record. There are some slight conerns- he's had a rough time of it in the Dominican Winter League, and there are some whispers about a bum elbow. However, the DWL is mired by inconsistent playing time, and could easily be a slump. The elbow issue has been roundly rejected by everyone in the know, for whatever it's worth.

So if, hypothetically, we value Marte over what Crisp represents, and decide to forego the trade- what are the alternatives?

  1. Jason Michaels, PHI- 30 years old, has strong OBP skills with little power. Has not been a starter yet in his career, for various reasons, in PHI. Has off-the-field issues. Apparently is headed to Cleveland for a setup man. Could have been acquired cheap as a stopgap until a better option arises, or David Murphy/ Jacoby Ellsbury are ready.

  2. Luis Matos, BAL- 27 years old, moderate OBP skills, middling power. Plays very good defense, though has struggled a bit with consistency and injuries. Baltimore has a logjam at CF/ OF and is in need of a 2B- could likely be had for Tony Graffanino. Would be a stopgap in the same way as Michaels, in all likelihood.

  3. Adam Stern, BOS- 26 years old, not a strong baseball player on any front. Could probably be depended on for barely league average defense and something of a 250/ 305/ 340 line. Would probably only be there until someone could be traded for at deadline. Not exactly a realistic option. Did go to the same college as Jere, however.

  4. Jeremy Reed, SEA- 25 years old- struggled in his first full season offensively last year due to a non-threatening wrist injury. Formerly a top, top prospect in Chicago White Sox system (part of Freddy Garcia trade), plays excellent defense. Showed power and OBP skills in minors. Would likely require Jon Lester or Jonathan Papelbon in a trade, to start (per reports). Most difficult to acquire, and may not actually still be available. Likely would be the best option.

  5. Dave Roberts, SDP- 34 years old, league average OB skills, no power. Plays good defense and, AHEM, can steal you a base or two. A trade involving Roberts would require taking Woody Williams and his contract back with him. Roberts isn't all that good to being with.

Given the options, and how easily it seems Cleveland has moved to pick up Michaels, I would have given them Guillermo Mota and a low prospect for him, kept Marte, and kept the feelers out for a better CF deal/ wait on Ellsbury or Murphy.

Though we are organizationally strong pitching-wise, including down into the farm, what irks me most about the trade is that we haven't had a positional prospect as good as Marte since Nomar, and even Marte has, thus far, a much more advanced career at age 21. Trading Marte leaves us extremely thin positionally in the minors- nothing of great note beyond Pedroia. The best of the rest would all be in A ball, or starting '06 in Portland.

Ultimately, we are getting some good value in return, so as such, I can live with it. Truth be told, I've been a big Coco fan for the last couple years, especially considering how easy it is to be admiring of nearly everything Mark Shapiro has done with the Indians. Regardless of how Boston turns out, starting soon, I think Cleveland will be a perennial powerhouse.

I'm about 70-30 against the trade, but once it goes through, I can honestly say I'm going to be a HUGE Coco Crisp fan.

Let's take a look at a few numbers regarding Coco. One of the first things we, as fans, are going to want to do, is compare him to Johnny Damon. When doing so, I think, he comes out looking pretty good. To wit:





Also, for reference- here is Damon's age 26 season (for a look at his progression where it may apply to Crisp's), and his full year last year (to compare to Crisp's full year last year):

DAMON (26)__655_____.327______.382_____.495______117
DAMON (31)__624_____.316______.366_____.439______113

It's worth keeping in mind, of course, that Crisp has played all his games in a pitcher's park and Damon, with the exception of his time in Oakland, has bandied about drastic hitter's parks. This explains why Crisps contextual numbers are better, and why, as you can see, Crisp was the better hitter in 2005.

Crisp has played CF in his career, but it was early, before Sizemore was promoted. His defensive numbers (UZRs, FRAAs, etc) aren't outstanding, but it'll be tough to judge until he actually makes the transition. It will be really, really important for a CF on a flyball staff playing in between to defensive statues to cover a lot of ground. I'm not totally convinced he can do that, but we'll see.

One more note on Crisp- regarding his platoon splits his last two seasons (Coco is a switch hitter):

vs LHP_____.353___.514___.867
vs RHP_____.339___.408___.747

vs LHP_____.305___.391___.696
vs RHP_____.366___.503___.869

Marte is going to be hard to watch when and if he blossoms in Cleveland. What does everyone else think about the trade? Here's a poll:

So since the new season of The Sopranos looms just over a month away, I've been taking the chance with OnDemand to catch up on old episodes. I'm working on the second season right now.

One thing that I'm getting- I've always been a big Christopher fan, for whatever reason. But the more you watch, the funnier Paulie Walnuts gets. Unbelievable. The best was when they were all sittin' around talking about blow jobs, and Paulie asks Silvio if he remembers HIS first BJ. Silvio says "yes," and Paulie goes, "how long'd it take for him to come?" Now that's pretty funny, everyone's laughing, but then Paulie looks over at Tony and goes, "Did you hear that, Ton? I said 'do you remember your first blow job.' Then he said 'yea.' So I ask him, 'how long'd it take to come?' Haha!" That's funny.

He's got a Hank Kingsley quality to him. Pathetic, kiss-ass, angry, tries to be something he can't be. That's just funny shit right there.

I'm anxiously awaiting, of course, the arrival of Ralphie. That's some great TV.

I've noticed a slight (OK, one comment) clamoring for a review of MVP 2006, which is NCAA this year. Worry not- when I gets paid tomorrow, I plays it, then I reviews it.

Also, a couple shout outs to some worthy blogs- Corsi Combover from SoSH has a new one, Alligator Button. Totally worth checking out. Also, per a comment on my Baseball's Greatest Teams blog, there apparently is an Expos blog out there somewhere. I'd love to check it out/ link it, but the commenter didn't leave a link. If you're him, drop me a link man. We want EXPOS MATERIAL! No doubt.

______________________________ |