Right now, trade discussions between the Red Sox and Indians regarding Coco Crisp center around third base prospect Andy Marte. Marte is coveted by the Indians, and would be their center piece in any trade with the Sox.
If the Red Sox are able to secure third base prospect Willy Aybar from the Dodgers in a trade for David Wells, that would make Marte expendable.
Last year in 26 games with the Dodgers, Aybar hit .326 with a .448 on base percentage. If the Sox can pry him away from the Dodgers, all of the other pieces could fall neatly into place. Aybar would easily make up for the loss of Marte, who hit just .140 with a .227 OBP in 24 games with the Braves last season.
The 26-year-old Crisp would fill both the center field and leadoff holes for the Sox.
Crisp appeals to the Red Sox not only because he's very inexpensive - and won't be eligible for free agency for another four years - but also because he hit .300 last season, to go along with an .810 OPS, 16 home runs and 69 RBI. His 178 hits and 44 walks resulted in a .345 OBP. A speedster, Crisp hit 43 doubles and stole 15 bases. Hardball Times also ranked him as the best defensive left fielder in baseball. Furthermore, Crisp can play all three outfield positions and, perhaps most importantly, can bat leadoff. Compare his numbers to Damon's last season, and the results are surprisingly pleasing. The two match up quite well:
Damon - Crisp
Age: 32 26
AVG. .316 .300
OBP: .366 .345
HR: 10 16
RBI: 75 69
SB: 18 15
Hits: 197 178
BB: 53 44
2B: 35 43
As you can see, the numbers are quite comparable. But at 32, Damon is as good as he'll ever be. In other words, this is as good as he gets. However, at just 26, Crisp is still developing and likely has his best years still ahead of him. Damon also had the luxury of being a part of baseball's best offense the last three seasons. Plug Crisp into that lineup, and watch his numbers grow. And with a little more plate discipline, his average and on base percentage will surely rise. If Crisp played 81 games a season at Fenway, it's not difficult to imagine him standing on second base quite regularly. Crisp also hit 48 points higher away from Jacobs Field, so hitting in the friendly confines of Fenway Park would likely be quite satisfactory, and equally rewarding, to him.
But the Indians won't trade Crisp unless they found someone to replace him.
To that end, Cleveland has had talks with the Phillies about acquiring outfielder Jason Michaels in exchange for Rafael Betancourt, plus David Riske or Arthur Rhodes. However, those negotiations have proven unsuccessful to this point.
The reason could be that Michaels comes with baggage. On Friday he agreed to complete 100 hours of community service to settle charges that he allegedly assaulted a Philadelphia police officer.
The 29-year-old was charged with aggravated assault and resisting arrest after he allegedly punched Officer Timothy Taylor, wrestled him to the ground, and ripped his shirt outside a nightclub on July 3. Other officers had to subdue Michaels during the incident.
Michaels agreed to a $1.5 million, one-year contract with the Phillies this week after hitting .304 with four homers and 31 RBI in 289 at-bats last season.
Let's hope Cleveland is willing to take a gamble on him, and isn't scared off by his seemingly out of control behavior.
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