The case for Coco Crisp
With the losses of Albert Pujols, Octavio Dotel, Gerald Laird, Nick Punto, and most likely Arthur Rhodes, Ryan Theriot, and Edwin Jackson the Cardinals have not done much to re-build the Cardinals for next season. So far they have only done a few things re-signing Rafael Furcal, signing free agent left handed pitcher J.C. Romero, and have tendered contracts to Jason Motte, Kyle McClellan, and signed a two year extension for Skip Schumaker. Now it is time for the Cardinals to focus on finding an outfielder who can bat right handed, play center field, and who can fill the gap while Allen Craig is rehabbing his knee. One name that has come up on the hot stove rumor mill has been Coco Crisp. Here is my case for signing a former Cardinal farm-hand, outfielder Coco Crisp.
Fitting the needs:
First of all, Crisp fits the Cardinals needs perfectly. He is a switch hitter, he has a solid glove which he can play all three outfield positions well, he has speed, and can bat at the top of the line up. Crisp is a guy with a lot of talent, last year he led the A.L with 49 stolen bases, ironically the Cardinals were last in the National League in stolen bases, something the team has really struggled at the past few seasons. Also, Crisp has never had below 10 stolen bases in a full season and has averaged 34 through ten seasons. With Crisp and Furcal at the top of the lineup they bring two solid lead off options and number two guys that can get on base and allow the big RBI guys like Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, and David Freese to be able to bring them in.
Defensively Crisp is a career .991 fielder in the three outfield positions, so he is reliable in the outfield as well. The Cardinals want someone who can platoon with Jon Jay and play center in the absence of Allen Craig, Crisp can do both so it seems like a perfect fit.
Though Crisp has a few suitors, the most serious seem to be the Cubs and the Cardinals. Crisp has repeatedly said that he wants to play on a competitive team that has a shot, and the Cubs do not fit that description they are a few years away at best for even making a run at the NL Central. With the list of suitors dwindling Crisp’s market value is relatively cheap, and the Cardinals could get him for a much better deal than they could if they are serious on Carlos Beltran. Beltran is demanding two or three years for 12-13 million a year, where Crisp could bring in for nine million or less a year. Also, rumors have begun to swirl that the Cardinals have interest in pitcher Roy Oswalt, if they choose to sign Crisp they would have the extra money to sign Oswalt and then try to trade Jake Westbrook.
Crisp is a proven player, though he may not have the power numbers of a Carlos Beltran type of guy, he still has a pretty healthy line. In ten seasons Crisp has played for the Indians, Red Sox, Royals, and most recently the Oakland Athletics. He has a career average of .275, he has 75 career home runs, and 419 RBI’s, along with his most revealing stat 218 stolen bases. Like I mentioned before, he has a .991 fielding percentage over his ten year career so he is a proven fielder as well.
Crisp, 31, is younger and more affordable than Carlos Beltran. He fits the needs of the club perfectly, he is a switch hitter who can run, and play solid defense in center and in the corner outfield positions. I think Crisp would bring a positive force to the clubhouse and a great weapon out of the line-up, the Cardinals need another guy like Rafael Furcal who can get on base and run in front of the big bats. Though he has a quirky name that sounds like a cereal, I think Crisp might be a better long term addition than Carlos Beltran, but I would still prefer the Cardinals to sign Ryan Ludwick back to a one or two year deal.