January 28, 2006
BASEBALL: Crisp for Marte
So, after months of talk, the Indians have dealt Arthur Rhodes to the Phillies for Jason Michaels, and Coco Crisp, David Riske and Josh Bard to the Red Sox for Andy Marte, Guillermo Mota, Kelly Shoppach, a player to be named later and cash.
I have to confess that I don't entirely understand why the Indians have spent the whole offseason trying to deal Crisp, although I suppose it's mostly a matter of the Red Sox desperately pursuing him. I also don't understand what would motivate the Phillies to dump Michaels for Rhodes; I guess the acquisition of Aaron Rowand made Michaels expendable, although it's somewhat debatable whether that's really any kind of improvement. It's as if the Indians and Phillies were being run by callers from WEEI as far as how well it worked out for Boston's needs - not that Cleveland didn't end up with a rational deal, but most teams wouldn't have been as hot to dump a talented young guy like Crisp in the first place. All I know for sure is, when the merry-go-round stopped, the National League East's cut of the deals looked like this:
*Edgar Renteria, a 30-year-old shortstop who had a terrible 2005 in the field and a mediocre one at bat.
*Arthur Rhodes, a 36-year-old middle reliever who threw 38.2 and 43.1 innings the past two seasons and had ERAs of 5.12 in 2004 and 4.17 in 2003 before pitching well last season.
*Andy Marte, a 22-year-old power-hitting third baseman named by Baseball Prospectus before last season as baseball's best prospect.
*Jason Michaels, a 30-year-old outfielder who batted .304 last year and has a lifetime batting line of .291/.442/.380
*Rafael Furcal, a 28-year-old shortstop who, according to Bill James, led the Braves in Win Shares in 2005, outstripping Andruw Jones with his 51 homers and Andruw Jones-style glovework.
As a Mets fan, I can live with that.
Is there something wrong with Marte? If the guy really is another Chipper Jones with the bat, you might wonder why he got traded twice. As I speculated when the Braves dealt him, it was possible that they had soured on him for some unknown reason, and if this is the Braves we're talking about here they may have had a good reason. But I assume the Red Sox just grabbed Marte because he was the best available prospect in exchange for Renteria, and always assumed that - with Kevin Youkilis around - they might well deal Marte to fill one of their short term holes. Time will tell; I assume Marte will have eaten Aaron Boone's (.299 OBP in 2005) lunch by June, if not by Opening Day, although it could be a few years before he scrapes his ceiling. Come to think of it, Marte and Michaels for Crisp (career .332 OBP) and Boone doesn't look like such a bad deal for the Indians' offense after all.
For the Sox, of course, adding Crisp fills the center field hole, and at 26 he should just be coming into his prime. Hopefully for Boston, he won't be asked to fill Damon's shoes as leadoff man - Youkilis, if he beats out Mike Lowell at third, or Mark Loretta would be a better call.
Roto tip: the Cleveland closer job now probably goes to Mota if Bob Wickman stumbles, while Rhodes and Tom Gordon will probably, at the end of the day, end up sharing Billy Wagner's old job.
The Tribe hasn't been shopping Crisp all off-season. However, when Boston lost Damon they were smart to listen to offers. Crisps value is likely to never be as high as it currently is and with Boston being desperate we had an opportunity to fill an organizational hole. I believe it is easier to find a replacement level outfielder (Michaels) than a high quality third baseman. As an Indians fan I think this is potentially a big win. However, anytime you trade for a prospect there is a chance that they might not pan out.
I am very excited about Crisp. A 26 year-old CF with quicks and a ton of upside. I don't think though that he is the answer at the top of the line-up, at least at this point in his career. His career OBP is pretty low (.332) in relation to his nearly .290 BA as he as only walked barely over 100 times in essentially 3 full seasons. The Sox are a fundamentally patient hitting team and he goes against that grain. He is also not a great basestealer (less than 65%). Youkilis is not the answer as he makes Wade Boggs look fast. He does take a ton of pitches and has a very good OBP. I would hope they take a shot with Loretta at the outset and hope he can be a semblance of his pre-injury self. The idea that they are going with Alex Cora as their SS is disturbing. He's brutal at the plate and really only average in the field and while that would be a massive upgrade from last year you simply cannot have a .230 hitting SS in the AL and win.
The Michaels deal shows how little the statheads have affected the thinking of baseball people. Pat Gillick thinks-"Hmmm..Michaels..not a lot of power, not a great OF. He's a tweener. Move him." Instead of thinking, "On-base machine. Keep him."
If GM's can have slumps, Gillick is in the midst of a big one.
I agree with Theo, Coco is no Johnny Damon. He is better. He is faster, has a better arm, more power and a better attitude. Damon is a good player, but Coco is on the cusp of greatness. He will quickly make the BoSox fans forget Damon.
I agree, Crisp, younger, faster, and probably more exciting defensively. The Sox got the better of the deal in this one.
I'm sure Coco appreciates the love letter from maddirishman. The fishbowl wont' be the same as it was in CLE. And he's still no legit CFer. Better value than Damon, certainly. Better overall, um no.
'He is better. He is faster, has a better arm, more power and a better attitude.'
No doubt. Damon scored over a 100 runs a year for the last 8 seasons. Crisp finally got a full time starting job in his 4th season. His superiority is obvious.
I think Pat Gillick made the move for a couple of reasons.
1) With the Phillies not resigning RHeal Cormier, they needed a left handed reliever and Rhodes becomes that guy.
2) the reason they are dumping Michaels is b/c he is an issue off the field. He recently pled guilty or no contest (not sure which or what the difference is) to assaulting a police officer outside a bar in Philly during last season and he also is a college buddy of Pat Burrell, who can be a bit of a party guy himself. Now, I know the bottom line is winning, but Michaels is at best a good guy to platoon in the outfield and he causes off the field problems so why keep him around. Now I don't think the trade helps the Phils too much, but it does get rid of a problem without hurting them too much either.
And also, there is no way Rhodes handles any of the closing duties unless Gordon is hurt or needs a day off.
The thinking on the Phillies end was, "get a good setup man so we can move Ryan Madson to the rotation because we can't land a real starter any other way". Since the Phils had a surplus of outfielders, trading one was the way to go.
The question becomes, will Rhodes really be a good setup guy? He's good just about every other year, and this is his year to stink.
Not sure how the Phils have a surplus of OF's-they just lost Lofton. They've acquired Rowand, who is at best a mediocre hitter, lost Thome in favor of Howard, who is still unproven (though I expect he'll be solid), still have Bell and Lieberthal-the last thing they need is to acquire an old mediocrity like Arthur Rhodes in exchange for a solid young hitter like Michaels. Bad move, and all too similar to dozens of moves now-replaced GM Ed Wade did.