Exhibit 14.9

Thoughts on the Coco Crisp Trade

Before we begin, let me welcome Mr. Crisp to the Great Names of the Royals Hall of Fame. Coco, please take your seat between Vida Blue and Pete LaCock.

Anyway, the Royals made their second major move of the offseason, acquiring center fielder Coco Crisp from the Boston Red Sox for reliever Ramon Ramirez. As with their first move, this was all about Royals GM Dayton Moore spending a fungible commodity (relief pitchers) and getting back value in the form of position players who are harder to find and who, ideally, should be more predictable in their performance. Crisp, like Jacobs earlier, is a player who had outlived his usefulness to his former team but represents an easy upgrade for a team like the Royals who suddenly seem willing to pay above-market salaries as long as they send back below-market players in the trade.

And that's really what this comes down to from the Royals' perspective. Moore has proven to be almost preternaturally talented at assembling great bullpens out of retreads and so players like Ramirez and Nunez are less valuable to the Royals than they are to other clubs (sadly, the opposite might be true when it comes to position players as Moore has so far struggled to identify and utilize cheap talent). It's possible he's just been lucky, but I can say as a fan that I'm not one bit worried about the bullpen despite having lost two quality arms in the past month.

Those two arms brought back a 1B/DH who will likely see near full-time duty as part of a three-man rotation over two spots and a CF who will start and (probably stupidly) leadoff. Say what you will about the logic of trading young, cheap pitchers for expensive older who players who may or may not block homegrown prospects, these two trades represent significant upgrades to the everyday lineup and almost certainly make the Royals think they'll finish above .500 for only the second time since 1994.

As for Coco Crisp specifically, he's a good player who used to be better but is still in his prime (29) and might very well be better in Kansas City's roomy ballpark than he was in Boston's bandbox. His defense is good-to-great, his power is adequate for a CF, he's not an OBP guy but he's okay, and he has one true skill with his exceptional speed. His contract has two years left on it--$5.75 million this year, $8 million club option next year with 500k buyout--but I'd put the odds squarely against the Royals ever picking that option unless:

A) Crisp reverts back to his 2005 form
B) The Royals compete for the division this year
C) The Royals trade Jose Guillen

And I think all three of those things have to happen. So for one year of average to above-average production and great (if weak-armed) defense, the Royals gave up a reliever who probably had his career season last year. Ramirez was great, but he's due to fall back to Earth and the Royals were smart to sell high.

(Which is maybe the most overlooked part of both of the trades this offseason. Dayton Moore turned 1/2 a season of Benito Santiago into a guy who hit 30+ HR last season when he traded Nunez for Jacobs. Then he turned Tony Graffanino into Jorge de la Rosa into Ramon Ramirez into Coco Crisp. And that doesn't even count the productive seasons he got from Nunez and Ramirez in the interim. The Royals, if nothing else, have been trading up).

Crisp allows the Royals to shift DeJesus to left where his defense should go from adequate to outstanding, and, though they haven't mentioned it, it seems clear that they also think DeJesus will stay healthier if he's not throwing his body around in center every night. It also frees up someone for a trade though the Royals could also just release Ross Gload and Joey Gathright and I don't think you'd hear any complaining out of the fan base.

Like I said, this team has gotten substantially better in just a month and while some analysts are taking it to the Royals for aiming for the middle rather than aiming high, I think that one year of creating a winning culture while some young guys develop isn't the worst thing in the world (especially since nobody is being blocked with these moves who wouldn't be blocked otherwise). We've all seen what true replacement-level players look like in KC and it's not pretty. Crisp and Jacobs are both fun players in the sense they make big plays (good and bad) and they'll adequately serve as plugs in a leaky ship until 2010 at which point I doubt either is still on the team.

I say it's a good move that has a small amount of upside with no real downside other than salary. As the owner of the Royals is an evil ex-Wal-Mart executive, not only do I not mind spending the money, I wish there was some way we could spend more of it. Perhaps a golden statue to commemorate Mr. LaCock's one season in KC...

Better takes on the trade here, here, here, and here.

1 comment:

Anders Peterson said...

and I think what's overlooked in the value of your take on the trade is the slinky salaciousness of that last line... BABY!