November 7, 2007

Are the Twins really Coo Coo?

So far this off-season, Nick Nelson and Seth Stohs have both commented on the possibility of acquiring Coco Crisp from the Boston Red Sox to replace Torii Hunter, if he decides to leave. And now, La Velle E. Neal III has gotten "a tip" that Twins and Red Sox have spoken about a potential Coco Crisp trade.

I have thought about this a few times since the emergence of Jacoby Ellsbury this summer, and now that this rumor could be picking up steam, I want to reiterate my thoughts.

Crisp, 28, is a fairly good hitter with defense that some could argue is supperior to Torii Hunter's at this point and time. Crisp has shown in the past that he can hit for power, with 16 home runs with the Indians in 2005, but with it started to diminish while he's been with the Red Sox thanks in part to the "Monster" in left field. However, I have no doubts in my mind that Coco could put up 10-20 home runs as a Twin with the shorter right field in the Metrodome. Heck, if Jason Tyner can almost hit a few out, Crisp shouldn't have much of a problem. 10% of his career home run totals have come at the Metrodome (5/49). He also has faired well against the Detroit Tigers, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox in his career.

If the Twins can add another impact bat to the offense, especially at either designated hitter or third base, then I think a move for Crisp would be a no-brainer. I think he would be a good lead off candidate in case Jason Bartlett is moved down in the order and he's a switch hitter which should make him a favorite for Gardy in his stern left-right batting order. I think that Crisp coupled with a bat like Luis Gonzalez at DH and Adrian Beltre at third, I think that Crisp would be a very serviceable replacement both offensively and defensively.

Here is a projected lineup if we were to add those three bats to our offense:

CF - Coco Crisp
LF - Jason Kubel
C - Joe Mauer
3B - Adrian Beltre
1B - Justin Morneau
RF - Michael Cuddyer
DH - Luis Gonzalez
SS - Jason Bartlett
2B - Nick Punto

You can also flip-flop Jason Bartlett and Coco Crisp if you'd like as I think that Bartlett is likely the favorite to lead-off in '08 for the Twins.

Obviously our offense would be a much more superior in '08 than to our '07 "offense", and with this and a possible healthy Francisco Liriano and a (hopefully) returning Johan Santana, I think the Twins could seriously contend in '08.

What would it take to get Crisp? Beltre?
  • Well with Coco Crisp, there's a relatively added incentive in the deal and that is that since Jacoby Ellsbury is more than ready to take over center field in '08, the Red Sox could be very prepared to deal Crisp for just about anything. Call me crazy, but I think that we could offer Brian Duensing or Nick Blackburn alone and we'd likely entice Red Sox GM Theo Epstein. But Duensing/Blackburn and perhaps Matthew Fox could probably do it.
  • For Beltre, it'd definitely be a lot harder to acquire his services. He's set to make $11.5 Million in '08 and is coming off of a very impressive season where he hit .276/.319/.482 with a .802 OPS and 26 home runs to go along with his first career Gold Glove award. He'd be a very good acquisition for the Twins who are desperate to fill third base both offensively and defensively. So with that in mind, it'd likely cost the Twins one of Matt Garza, Glen Perkins, Kevin Slowey along with Boof Bonser and another mid-range prospect could probably get the deal done. Question is, would the Twins give up 2-3 pitchers for Beltre?
In LEN3's same post, he also said that there are "some indications" that the Twins and Rays have been talking. He said that the only logical player being moved would be Rocco Baldeli who many thought could devolope into a middle-of-the-order bat, but has been plagued by injuries the last two years. I really would prefer Baldelli over Crisp, but I just think that the price would be higher and that the injuries are definitely a big risk. Consider me interested, but wary. But at just 26, Baldelli still has until 2012 until he's a free agent (if his 2009 club option is picked up), but I think the Twins may just hold out to see if he can sustain an entire season's work before they try and make a move. But if they do make a move, (obviously depending the price) I would definitely be ecstatic to see him with the Twins. He's a very good, young player and is exciting to watch. However, I feel a deal for Crisp is more realistic which is why this post wasn't centered around Baldelli.

On a side note: Torii Hunter and Johan Santana will both receive Rawlings Gold Gloves from the 2007 season. Hunter, 32, now has won 7 AL Gold Gloves in a row with the Twins. Unfortunately, it really is more out of a sign of "respect" as he's definitely not the best defensive outfielder anymore. Santana, 28, is receiving his first of (hopefully) many Gold Gloves. The award has been won by Detroit's Kenny Rogers for the last 3 years and 5 since 2000. Another player who could be joining them in '08 is catcher Joe Mauer who is one of the (if not the best) defensive catchers in all of baseball. But unfortunately for him, Detroit's Ivan Rodriguez has won 13 of the last 16 Gold Gloves at the same position. Justin Morneau is another Twin who could contend for the award next season.