Saturday, February 11, 2006

Coo Coo for the topic of Coco

Jim Banks, of MLB.com, who gave us his superb analytical breakdown of the Coco trade, is at it again.
Banks, apparently overwhelmed by the Anti-Martes (copyright pending on that one), addresses the concerns of irate Tribe fans who flooded his e-mail box, either viewing Coco Crisp as the 2nd coming, or believing that the Tribe took a HUGE step back by making this move.

Again, an excellent analysis by Banks, which should appeal to most Indians fans, but I’ve learned that people will believe what they want to believe, regardless of arguments or opposing points of views. Those who don’t like the Coco deal now, won’t in May or August and probably won’t until the Indians’ winning forces them to take make a “hindsight is 20/20” proclamation, as they eventually did about the Colon deal.

One last thought on Coco and the whole deal: Fans were upset at the Indians for trading a popular player, a young player many felt was on the rise, and a hardworking player. All of these issues are certainly justified.

However, Coco is a CF and a leadoff hitter (Boston hopes) at his core and that spot is already taken in Cleveland by Sizemore for a long time. When it boils down to it, one of those players would be perpetually miscast as a corner outfielder and would eventually be moved to a team that could best utilize their skills.

Sizemore, with his youth and potential (which we got a peek of last year), is clearly the better player, making Coco ultimately expendable.

Did the move come earlier than most thought? Yes, most thought that the Tribe would wait until one of their OF prospects (Snyder or Gutierrez, or even Francisco), was undeniably ready to contribute at the Jake. But the Indians found themselves in an enviable situation, as the Red Sox were desperate for a CF after Johnny Damon left, and were willing to part with a bona-fide top prospect, probably ready for the Major Leagues (what every team tries to find when making a trade), who plays a position that needed some strengthening in the organization.

But that’s the analytical approach to it; many people are more upset about this deal at the emotional level. They feel that the Indians asked the fans, after the rebuilding plan went into effect, to accept and embrace these young players. When the fans finally did, they feel that the Front Office reneged on their part of the agreement, by moving one of those increasingly popular players.

This is understandable, and while it certainly doesn’t resonate like the shock of the Carlos Baerga deal (if you’ll remember, local TV stations went around town to measure the shock and disappointment of the fans, some of whom claimed they would stop following the Tribe), many people are having the same feelings.

First things first, don’t cry for Coco. According to Terry Pluto in a recent interview, Coco was ecstatic about the rumors that he would be heading to Boston. And why wouldn’t he? Coco will be playing in a larger market, in front of the rabid Red Sox Nation, where he can increase his national profile and develop into a nice complementary player for the BoSox (ideally for Boston), who will benefit from the hype machine that is the Boston media, the way that players like Kevin Millar and, really, Johnny Damon have in the past few years. One can only imagine Gammons’ glee as he (inaccurately and bombastically) compares Crisp to a young Lou Brock or Ricky Henderson.

Coco understands that this is a business and that his talents will be utilized more fully in CF in Fenway, just as Shapiro understands that. Coco, despite his his cursory remarks that he’ll miss Cleveland, is excited about the opportunity in Boston, and rightfully so.

Coco is a nice player who seems to be a solid teammate and clubhouse presence; and Cleveland should wish him the best of luck. But the bottom line that both parties are more than likely better off after this deal remains.

A local talk-show host is fond of saying that fans should cheer for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back. While it’s important for a fan base to get to know players and get excited about their accomplishments, baseball is, and always will be, a business.

Players will move in and out of uniforms, sometimes leaving a feeling of nostalgia (or what-ifs), like Coco probably will; other times leaving a bad taste in one’s mouth (the way the Thome and Manny, after signing for bigger money elsewhere, did). The one constant is that crazy Chief Wahoo and the electricity of the Jake in October.

The days of players playing in one place their whole careers is long gone, as the glorious memories of success are often tainted by the ensuing years and their inevitable dramas. If you told me in 1994 that, a mere 12 years later, Thome and Manny would be vilified in Cleveland as greedy, that Belle would become Public Enemy #1 (remember this is 1994), and that Lofton, Vizquel, Alomar, and Baerga all would leave Cleveland somewhat unceremoniously, I would’ve thought that you were crazy. But that’s the reality of the situation.

Recently, I was doing some cleaning and ran across an Upper Deck set of the 1994 Cleveland Indians (probably given to me as a gift from someone who thought I was still 8), and thought that I’d pick a player’s card to be a bookmark. After going through the whole team, guess which card became the bookmark? Pasta Pauly Sorrento!?! I’m not sure why, maybe the nostalgia that Sorrento never had that bad break-up with the Indians, or maybe because I still remember the Jacobs Field JumboTron that showed the plate of pasta and his name. The point is that time changes things, perceptions and otherwise.

Maybe in 2018, I’ll look back fondly on Coco Crisp’s time with the Tribe. Maybe he’ll be the one who lacked that bad-break up with the Indians. But right now, in 2006, I wish Coco the best in Boston and look forward to a long, sustained run at multiple World Series in Cleveland.

Some other tidbits:
Count ESPN’s Gary Gilette among national analysts who feel that Aaron Boone’s 2005 was not an aberration, but rather an indication of his expected level of performance. Gilette, like many others, feel that Marte will take over for Boone at 3B by June.

Kyle Denney has joined Billy Traber on the Washington Nationals, by signing a minor league contract. Both will try to make the big-league club out of Spring Training.

Brian Tallett was Designated for Assignment by the Toronto Blue Jays, a move made necessary when the Jays signed Bengie Molina. For those keeping score, the Tribe traded Tallett was traded to Toronto a mere 3 weeks ago for minor-league pitcher Bubbie Buzachero. Count this as another brilliant move, full of foresight, by Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi in an off-season that looked more like a fantasy baseball draft than the construction of a team in Toronto.

Does anyone still think that we gave up too early on any of these three?

5 days until pitchers and catchers report.

9 comments:

Baltimoran said...

gotta love snow days

i'm hoping phillips makes the squad as a utility infielder, i think he's been humbled by the past few years and ready to step up as a utility guy, eventually taking over for belliard...although it seems more likely that he'll get fresh start somewhere else.

Cy Slapnicka said...

make sure you watch out for the black ice.

sammy sosa threatens retirement today...silence ensues.

Rockdawg said...

Let's face it, the Coco trade is a good one for the Tribe, but I still don't think they have done enough to catch the Sox...Not only did they have a better record than us last year, they also had a better offseason (in terms of next year, not further down the road). I make this prediction (and I hope I am wrong) for two reasons. One, to relieve any disappointment I may have at season's end, and more importantly, I haven't made a correct off season prediction since 2002, when I said that Tim Couch would lead the Browns to the playoffs (and I predict that every year...minus Couch)

Bigger embarrasment...American athletes at the Olympics (Kwan, B. Miller, Ohno) or Cheney?

Baltimoran said...

if last year proves anything, its that a team from the central can contend for the wildcard. bos. and ny both got a year older...with already old teams, and they are both relying on men over 35 (big unit and blood sock) to anchor their pitching staff

i agree that the white sox will be good, but last year seemed like a perfect season for them...hard to improve upon and thome's back won't hold up...i hope.

big win for the cavs tonight if they hold on...boy i really don't want to work on my paper for grad school

rockdawg...you suck

Cy Slapnicka said...

rockdog, does Livingston give you knee pads when you sit under his desk?

I agree with bags, the sox had a dream season. While I think the central is a possibility, I just want the playoffs. We can play with anyone if we get there.

Rockdawg said...

I don't read Livingston...the only PD guy I read is Roger Brown, and that's just to get me good and mad before I go to work. Any agreement that Livingston and I may have expresed is purely coincidental.

I made a mistake...I also read Grossi's NFL picks against the spread, then I bet the opposite.

Charlotte Bobcats = Worst team in history. Baltimorian, how's the weather up there...it was 60 here today.

Baltimoran said...

lots of snow but not cold during the day. mrs. baltimoran got us tickets to cavs/wizards fri. and i made sure to tell everyone that lebron would score 50 against the wizard's terrible D...bad idea
i'm glad pc got me reading terry pluto, he's good

Pat Tabler said...

Usually I stick to the Tribe, BUT...after attending last night's Spurs game, there is no question that LBJ is the best player in the NBA.

He could do whatever he wanted on offense and disrupted the Spurs' defense by guarding Tony Parker.

Most amazing performance I've ever seen by a basketball player, and I was at Richfield when MJ scored 69 on the Cavs.

Dag said...

The best palyer not named KOBE