The long-awaited Coco Crisp deal finally went down on Friday night. What follows is a roundup of reaction to the deal from the parties involved, the media, and fans (quotes compiled from various media reports).
Red Sox, Indians react
Comments from Red Sox GM Theo Epstein
“Coco Crisp is not Johnny Damon. He’s his own player, and he brings his own strengths. Johnny was an outstanding, elite leadoff hitter and center fielder. It’d be unfair to ask Coco to fill those shoes.
“As far as Crisp playing center field, we’re excited. We have excellent scouting reports and objective data on his ability to be a plus center fielder across the board.”
Epstein also mentioned that while Crisp has only a .332 career OBP, he has a career .370 OBP outside of Jacobs Field, so, Epstein said, ”we think he has a chance to use Fenway to his advantage.”
“He has an energy and a swagger that will translate very well at Fenway. He should be a guy who thrives on the big stage.”
“I think it’s fair to say we wouldn’t have given up [Andy] Marte for any player with one or two years of control. But to get four years of control [Crisp doesn’t become a free agent until after the 2009 season] and a player the caliber of Coco Crisp going into his prime, that softens the blow a little for giving up Andy Marte. What we’re trying to do is have controllable players in their primes.
“It’s not often you get someone for ages 26, 27, 28, 29 who we think will be above average offensively and defensively who has plus makeup.”
Epstein acknowledged that Crisp’s arm is “his weakest tool, but he gets rid of the ball quickly. He has plus makeup. He loves to play the game. All our reports say he’s an excellent teammate.
”A couple of his strengths complement our weaknesses, which are his plus defense up the middle and speed.”
”I’ve got to give all the credit in the world to Jed and all the guys in the office. This was something that went on for virtually the whole offseason. Jed [Hoyer] and Chris Antonetti probably set a club record for a deal. They probably made 100 calls.”
Comments from Red Sox assistant GM Jed Hoyer
“Coco is a guy we had identified quite a ways back. In September we were kind of concerned the secret was out and we weren’t going to be able to get him. It was clear we were going to have a tough negotiation with Johnny [Damon], and Coco was the top guy on our list.”
“Coco was fantastic in the games that mattered most down the stretch. That’s what we looked at a lot. He’s also got an energy and swagger that we think will transfer to Fenway.”
“In some ways, it was a painful trade for both teams because we didn’t want to trade Marte and they didn’t want to trade Crisp. But that’s probably what makes it a good trade.”
Comments from Indians GM Mark Shapiro
“He’s just entering his prime right now. He definitely has upside beyond what he’s already accomplished. The question and the unknown is how much power he still has. He’s an energy player that can impact the game on both sides of the ball, but he needs to get better against lefthanded pitchers.”
“It is a great trade for the Red Sox. Because of the emergence of Grady Sizemore, Coco [Crisp] is probably worth more to Boston than to us because he can play center field. He is a tremendous person whose career is on the ascent. His enormous energy and the fact that he thrives on the stage may make him an even better player in Boston. We had more play on him this winter than anyone else on our roster, but this was the one trade that made sense.”
“I hope our track record and decision-making over the past three seasons has built some trust with our fan base. I know there are still many fans that will be frustrated, but I hope they ultimately will reserve judgment until they see the results play out this season on the field.”
Comments from Coco Crisp
“I love the game. I play hard. I’m not afraid to run into a wall and get hurt, go all out. That’s the type of player they love in Boston. I believe that was the type of player Johnny [Damon] was and why he was so successful. He’ll run into walls. If it takes running into walls, that’s what I’ll do.
”As far as going into his shadow, I don’t believe it’s like that. I think I’ve established myself slightly. I want to continue to grow as a player and hopefully bring some excitement and enjoyment to the fans.”
“Before these past two years, primarily all I did was hit leadoff. That was my path up to the big leagues. I hit .360 one year [2003 with Buffalo] to catapult me up to the big leagues. That’s where I feel most comfortable and would like to be if I had a choice.”
”My great grandmother used to call me ‘Co’,” said Crisp, whose given name is Covelli. ”My brother and sister got a whiff of the cereal [Cocoa Krispies] and called me Coco. As a kid, you don’t like it too much. They asked me what my nickname was when I was in Double A. I said it was Coco.
”They put it on the scoreboard. I got traded [in August 2002] and was up in the big leagues a week and a half later. And I was ‘Coco.’ When I saw it up there I thought it was terrible because they used to joke with me when I was a kid.”
“I love the whole atmosphere out there, it’s very intense — I just sit back and relax.”
“I’m excited. I can’t wait to get out there and play. Boston definitely [was] one of my favorite ball teams growing up as a kid. To be able to play for them is like a dream come true.”
“I got my first break in Cleveland and it’s always going to be special to me. I have a lot of friends there. I got close to C.C. Sabathia and his family. I have a lot of good memories of coming up through the minors playing against Victor Martinez.”
Media reaction, analysis
Chris Snow, Boston Globe: For those having difficulty understanding why the Indians would give up Coco Crisp — who is just 26 and posted a better OPS last season than Johnny Damon (.810 to .805) — to get Andy Marte, consider the following:
1. Crisp has close to three years of major league service time. Marte has about half of one season. Crisp, therefore, is eligible to become a free agent after the 2009 season. Marte, if he were to play a half season in Cleveland this year and then start at third base beginning in 2007, wouldn’t become a free agent until after the 2011 season.
Between now and 2009, when he hits the open market, Crisp projects to make about $20 million, an estimate based on what he’d likely pocket in arbitration. Between now and 2009, Marte figures to make no more than $5 million, and most of that would be in 2009.
Therefore, by parting with Crisp, the Indians hypothetically saved about $15 million over the next four seasons while obtaining what most people in baseball consider a player capable of hitting 20-25 homers while playing a steady third base.
2. Crisp, who hit 16 homers last year and 15 the year before, is an above-average power hitter for a center fielder but average or below average for a left fielder. Therefore, Crisp’s value, with 23-year-old Grady Sizemore entrenched in center field for years to come, was greater to a team in need of a center fielder than it was to the Indians, who loved Crisp but love Sizemore more.
3. Prospects like Marte — corner infielders embraced by scouts and statistical wonks alike — aren’t in great supply. He’s a cornerstone player at a position where the Indians lack organizational depth.
If the Indians waited another year to deal Crisp, he still figured to command a hefty return, especially since next winter’s free agent class isn’t bursting with center field luminaries. However, come next year, Marte wouldn’t have figured to be available.
Peter Gammons, ESPN.com (subscription only): If one takes the 2006 projections in the Bill James guide, Crisp’s OPS will be .790 with 13 homers; Damon’s .786 with 12 homers.
The Red Sox and Indians know that the Yankees and White Sox begin spring training as the heavy favorites in their respective divisions. But this was in many ways a transition trade for both teams. The Red Sox needed to start getting ascending players, gradually introduce younger farm system products into the mix and take a step back from the institutional obsession with the Yankees. The Indians have to constantly try to develop long term and compete in the short term until the Ohio economy changes and the fans return in droves to The Jake.
Michael Silverman, Boston Herald: Given the near-sightedness and forgetfulness that afflicts Red Sox fans all too regularly, the Coco Crisp-Johnny Damon comparisons will begin before the first spring training game, never mind the first Sox-Yankees meeting. That is patently unfair to Crisp, since he has nowhere near the resume Damon does, and really is only beginning to blossom as a major leaguer.
The two hitters’ career averages are roughly equal — .287 for Crisp, .290 for Damon — but the difference in on-base percentage is not so small, which reflects Damon’s superior patience and results in more walks. Damon, with a .380 career on-base percentage, has an .082 walk per plate appearance average. Crisp, with a .332 career on-base percentage, is at .065.
Working in Crisp’s favor is that his on-base percentage has ballooned appreciably in the past two years. It has been at .344 and .345, plus his walk totals increased from 36 in 2004 to 44 last year.
Joey Morona, Cleveland.com: I’ve had a couple days now to process the Indians’ trade of Coco Crisp to the Red Sox. In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit, since Jody Gerut’s departure, Coco had become my favorite Indians player. I loved the way he played the game and he was fun to talk to in the Indians clubhouse before or after a game.
Terry Pluto, Akron Beacon Journal: It’s easy to understand why so many Tribe fans are upset about the deal. Crisp is a determined, underrated player who batted .300 with 62 extra-base hits and 69 RBI. Boston Red Sox fans will love the guy. The trade helps the Red Sox more than the Indians in the short run. When the games meant the most after Sept. 1, Crisp hit .331 with six homers and 16 RBI.
Kennedy’s Commentary: All things considered, I really like this deal for the Red Sox.
The Sox now have a speedy, switch hitting leadoff hitter to replace Johnny Damon.
Though he played left field for Cleveland last year, Crisp was a center fielder prior to the emergence of Grady Sizemore in 2005. While the average AL left fielder hit .278/.333/.437 in 2005, Crisp hit .300/.345/.465.Ã‚ And even if he’d played center, only three other center fielders hit for a higher average than Crisp.
In each of his four seasons, Crisp’s numbers have continued to improve. His average steadily climbed from .260 to .266 to .297. to .300 last year. He also collected 62 extra-base hits last season (more than Damon), compared to a total of 77 in his first three. It’s a trend the Sox brass expect to continue.
Away Team: Well, the Crisp trade happened. Goodbye, Mota.
I’m highly pleased. I see only upside in Crisp. My only regret is the loss of Kelly Shoppach. I’m not sure why I had become so fond of him. But he was home grown and … we don’t get a lot of that ’round these parts. I’m still not sure who’s gonna catch Wakefield next year.
But I’m jazzed all the same. Oh, and Theo’s back as GM … which is about as surprising as Ross and Rachel getting together in the final episode of “Friends.” We were all pretty sure it was gonna happen, but still happy when it did.
Red Sox Reality Check: You knew it was going to happen. I knew it was going to happen. To paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, it was never about the type of GM we had, it was about the price. Andy Marte goes from super-prospect to suspect, and Coco Crisp is a younger, faster, healthier version of Johnny Damon. Could we spin it any other way?
Fan reaction on the message boards
tbs2007: Coco’s numbers are constantly on the rise, while Damons are now on the downswing. Marte could just be another Sam Horn and Phil Plantier, a bunch of powerhitting hype, So don’t cry over that.
captaincarl: We have no idea what to expect so lets not set overly high expectations before he has a chance to settle in. I have high hopes for Crisp and think it was a good trade, but only time will tell. I certainly think he is going to be a better option than handing the job to Adam Stern.
chazz1: I think the chances are that Coco will have a good year. #1 his age ..good athletes come into their prime at 25-27 they get a little bigger and naturally a little stronger. #2 he has shown nice improvement the last 2 seasons. #3 Fenway … The park will probably give him a couple of points on his average and a few more doubles.
joeyama99: Crisp should adjust well. From what I heard he’s got the attitude and personality to handle the pressure. The bigger question is will he be able to handle the leadoff spot? Can he adjust to the sox style of showing patience and working the count? Can he raise his OBP to fit in as the table-setter atop the lineup?
bigclo: This kid is in my opinion the best case scenario for the Sox. He is better than decent. I watched him play about 10 times last season and aside from lack of discretion when swinging and stealing, he was incredible to watch. I think a lot of doubtful fans will be surprised when they get to see him play.