Thursday, November 20, 2008

Royals and Red Sox Come to Terms

Sometimes I am guilty of unfairly grading a trade based on the partners that are involved. I'm not referring to any extraordinary biases, nor am I claiming that my judgment is based on anything more then personal speculation. Either way, I am guilty of such.

Yesterday this occurred as the Boston Red Sox and Kansas City Royals came to terms on a deal that would send Coco Crisp to the Royals in exchange for Ramon Ramirez. Had this been a year ago, I would have spent the next 500 or so words fluffing Dayton Moore. However, this is the second interesting (read: confusing) move that Moore has made in the short weeks of the 2009 Hot Stove League.

The first, if you remember, was Moore adding to an already deep position, making a sticky situation, that much more sticky. I ended up giving Moore somewhat of a pass on that deal, offering up a 'wait and see' conclusion. However, I am unable to do so with Moore's recent acquisition of Coco Crisp.

Covelli "Coco" Crisp is a fine ballplayer. He's an 'okay' center fielder defensively, with the ability to be phenomenal. He doesn't offer the typical traits of a corner outfielder, but would be a top notch left fielder. Crips also happens to be relatively inexpensive being owed just under $7M for the next two seasons. Durability is not an issue, neither is age, as Crisp is young enough to maintain his current level of production, with the possibility of seeing improvement.

What else makes Crips a fine ballplayer? Well, he's about league average in terms of hitting from center field. His 94 OPS+ is slightly above what the average Major League center fielder offers. And Crisp's adjusted .766 OPS is 14 points above what Major League teams averaged in 2008. Crisp's .264 career EQA is only a few points over what the Major League average is, although keep in mind that is league-wide, inclusive of first basemen, designated hitters, etc.

In other words, we're not talking a world beater, but a fine center fielder. We're not talking about a player teams build around, but a player that can fill a hole on an otherwise strong team. He'd be a great fit for a team like the Chicago White Sox or maybe the Texas Rangers.

On the Kansas City Royals, however, he is a weak to terrible fit. While it is a nice value, in acquiring a player that would cost around $10M a year on the free agent market, and that the cost was simply a reliever, it still doesn't make much sense.

Dayton Moore and the Kansas City Royals already have their very own Coco Crisp in David DeJesus. In fact, DeJesus is a notable improvement over Crisp-although with a lesser reputation and a greater vulnerability towards injuries.

Even still, DeJesus' adjusted career OPS is .821 with a career OPS+ of 105 is substantially superior to Crisp's, and DeJesus .275 EQA begins to border on solid for center fielders.

While this trade eliminates the possibility of Joey "I jump cars" Gathright logging serious playing time with the impending departure of Mark Tehean, one has to believe that with $7M plus a reliever Moore could have gotten more then Coco Crisp. The Royals could have stretched Jose Guillen (one of the worst free agent signings from the 2008 Hot Stove League) in right field and brought in Garret Anderson.

However, Moore decided not to take that route, which leads me to believe he made another deal in anticipating of making a deal.

Otherwise, why would he send off Ramon Ramirez?

Let's not get too down on Moore, Royals fans. While Ramirez is replaceable by any number of free agent relievers, we are still talking about a hard throwing reliever that will make the league minimum in 2009. We are talking about a reliever that will make an already strong Red Sox bullpen, that much stronger, while providing the club with $7M of cash to spend.

Dayton Moore does, in a way, have the right idea. Relief pitchers are volatile, thus treating them as luxuries for roster upgrades is the right thing to do. Ramirez is the perfect reliever to sell high on, as Moore knows as well as anybody, how much his organization hid Ramirez in 2008.

Crisp, has more value long term then Ramirez, as Moore will certainly be able to pedal him for more then a 27 year old reliever. However, like the Mike Jacobs for Leo Nunez trade, Moore does little to improve the overall quality of his ballclub.

Thus, at this point, Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox won this deal as they received a piece that will certainly help their club. If Moore and the Kansas City Royals swing DeJesus or Crisp for a piece greater then Ramirez, the trade will swing in the other direction. However, if appears as though Moore is looking forward to having an outfield of Guillen-Crisp-DeJesus, which is rather unfortunate.

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