Archive for Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Wild Card

November 26, 2008

Cocoa and crisp are two words that are generally associated more with cereal than they are the Kansas City Royals.

But in 2009 those words — albeit spelled a little differently — will be penciled in at the top of the Royals’ batting order.

Coco Crisp is the Royals newest addition to help provide much-needed speed in the lineup and in the outfield. Last year, the Royals had no speed, no home run power and couldn’t get on base.

The Royals had a pretty good pitching staff, but the likes of Zack Greinke and Gil Meche pretty much had to hold opponents to three runs or less every time they took the mound to give the Royals a fighting chance.

But with the addition of Crisp, the Royals will have a better chance next year. Crisp was obtained via trade from the Boston Red Sox in exchange for Royals setup man Ramon Ramirez. The Royals essentially traded away a relief pitcher for an everyday center fielder, so the trade looks on paper to be a steal for the Royals.

But on that paper comes a hefty price. Crisp’s salary is $5.75 million in 2009 and $8 million in 2010 if the Royals choose to pick up his option. Who knows if Crisp will pan out in K.C. blue or not? But the move makes baseball sense for the Royals right now.

Yes, Royals general manager Dayton Moore has jettisoned two of the team’s best setup guys. But Crisp gives the Royals energy on the field. And that’s something the team hasn’t had for a while.

Crisp is a good bunter and base stealer. He has stolen 20 or more bases four times in his career. He will be a pest on the bases, constantly getting the pitcher to throw to first. He is also an aggressive runner who is not afraid to make a single into a double or stretch a double into a triple. The Royals need that badly.

Too many times last year the Royals had no other alternative but to run base-to-base. The Royals best base runner last year was Mark Teahen. Teahen would stretch singles into doubles, and sometimes doubles into inside the park home runs.

But Teahen could be doing that in another uniform next year. Teahen could be expendable because Crisp will play center field, David DeJesus will likely move to left field and Jose Guillen will play right field — although don’t be too surprised if Guillen gets dealt before Spring Training.

The Royals now have a logjam at first base and in the outfield. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Teahen could seemingly move to first and give the Royals a solid glove there, but with Mike Jacobs, Billy Butler, Ryan Shealy and Ross Gload still on the team, it looks like Teahen just doesn’t have a place to play in K.C.

And that’s too bad. He is a solid ballplayer and a fan favorite. But Crisp is a solid player and could be a fan favorite in K.C.

But in the end, the move for Crisp shows two things: Dayton Moore isn’t done dealing and he’s not just going to sit around and wait and hope for the best.

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