Friday, September 7, 2007

Red Sox Evaluations, Part II

Back to the evaluations, and I'll try and bang out three tonight. We begin with Coco Crisp.

#10 - Coco Crisp - CF - 2007 Salary: $3.5 million.
After an injury-riddled, abysmal first season in Boston for Coco Crisp, the immensely talented Sox center fielder came out cold with the bat once again in 2007. He spent the first two months mostly hitting at the bottom of the batting order, and hit at a .229 clip with only 15 RBI on June 1. In June and July Coco turned it around, and raised his average as high as .284 with some pop. He cooled off in August but is hitting again down the stretch. His most important offensive contribution to the club has been his 23 steals, and he's also seven runs scored behind his career high.

Without a doubt, Crisp has made a much bigger impact with his glove in 2007 than any other aspect of his game. It has significantly outweighed any disappointment his offense has provided. Watching him run down just about every ball in the outfield this year has certainly been something to behold. It's usually pretty hard for center fielders not named Hunter or Suzuki to win a Gold Glove in the AL, but it's difficult for me to believe that anyone that's paid any attention to the Red Sox this year could say that Coco is not deserving of the award. The number of game-saving grabs that he's made this year is roughly comparable to the number of clutch hits by David Ortiz in the last few years.

The future for Coco Crisp in Boston is rather cloudy. With the emergence of Jacoby Ellsbury this month, it seems like the Sox could shop Crisp around this winter. He's signed to a very team-friendly contract with an option for 2010, and I think it would be very attractive for teams like Atlanta or Minnesota that figure to lose their center fielders to free agency. Had Coco enjoyed a better season at the plate, the team could be able to wrestle a top prospect out of one of those clubs but I kind of think that won't happen now. I wouldn't mind it if this Sox kept him around but I think Ellsbury can be a star and Coco's time may have passed. Either way, his defense has been an integral part to the Red Sox success this year.

#12 - Eric Hinske - 1B, LF, and RF - 2007 Salary: $5.625 million (half paid by Toronto).
When the Red Sox took on half of Hinske's remaining contract last season, I felt like he could be a pretty useful bench player for the club going forward. I'm not sure that I could categorize his .217 average in 70 games as useful this season, but it's always good to have guys that have versatility. It's an interesting time in baseball when a guy like Eric Hinske, who plays four positions all at below-average level, can't hit, can't run, can't throw, and is typically a huge liability whenever he's on the field can earn $5 million and make it through the whole season on the roster of the best team in baseball. He'll probably make the postseason roster even though he doesn't deserve it, and it will likely come at the expense of Ellsbury. I don't expect the Red Sox to re-sign Hinske upon the completion of this season.

#13 - Alex Cora - 2B and SS - 2007 Salary: $2 million.
Anyone who is friends with me on Facebook knows about my affinity for the Red Sox super utility man Alex Cora. When Dustin Pedroia was going through his difficult times at the outset of 2007, Cora provided a perfect alternative at a time when the club really needed it. I was among the people who called for Pedroia to be sent back to Pawtucket in favor of Cora when Pedroia was running so bad and Cora was coming up with seemingly every clutch hit the team needed. But Dusty came on and Cora went back to his better role on the bench. Since then he has made a positive contribution to the club with his defense and small-ball ability. I love the guy and I hope he will be with the team for the foreseeable future.

More to come.

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