Coco Crisp: Clubhouse Cancer?

Tim DaloisioCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2008

Has a cancer hit the Red Sox training camp in Fort Myers this spring?

Not quite.  But Coco Crisp did express a desire to be traded if he couldn’t play every game this season—which isn’t likely given the emergence of Jacoby Ellsbury.

“I want to play every day,” Crisp said.  “I think everybody wants to play every day.  If you don’t, I think there’s something wrong with you.  I don’t want to sit on the bench.  I can cheerlead with the best of them, but that’s not where I want to be, though.

“I would honestly rather be somewhere else and play than be on the bench.  I’ll take whatever comes and deal with it.  It’s no knock against Boston.  The fans have treated me well.  It’s ultimately for myself.  I think I can speak for anybody: you want to play.  So whatever the best situation is for yourself to play is where you want to be.”

The Red Sox are clearly better for Ellsbury’s offense at the top of the lineup, but neither Bobby Kielty nor Brandon Moss could make up for Coco’s value as part-time centerfielder/fourth outfielder.  

You can count me surprised that Coco and a young pitcher weren’t dealt in a package for one of the top line starters who changed hands already this offseason (Johan Santana, Dan Haren, or Erik Bedard).

Coco’s recent comments will play more loudly, more egregiously when whistled through the Boston media.  But I hear Coco expressing frustration that he isn’t able to satisfy his desire play every day, not his being disgruntled that a young star is rising behind him. 

I do hear him asking for the things you expect from anyone who truly wants to compete.  I do not hear him asking for a trade…yet.

I think Coco sees the writing on the wall—it’s not going to happen ahead of Jacoby Ellsbury—and I don’t have a problem with anything Coco Crisp had to say.

However, assuming that Coco Crisp has to be dealt, what can the Red Sox get in return?  What will they need in exchange?

Coco’s skill set as a starting centerfielder, a very good fielder, and a potential top-of-the-order batter is desirable—and so is his contract.  But now that it’s clear that Coco won’t be happy if the season progresses with him on the bench, the Red Sox's negotiating leverage has dropped.  

Please note, I don’t expect Coco to pull a Jay Payton during the season, but it’s clear that the Red Sox would like to move him in the right deal at this point.  The ideal situation would involve the Red Sox being able to find one of the following in return for Coco: (1) a No. 3 starter, (2) a set up man, or (3) a young catcher.

If possible, swinging a trade with the Rangers for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia—who was acquired from the Atlanta Braves in the Mark Teixeira trade—would be a coup to solidify the post-Varitek era behind the plate.  I would happily package George Kottaras, Coco Crisp, and a reliever in our farm system to make the gamble on Salty.

Other options include trying to match up with the A’s and Billy Beane for Joe Blanton.  But at this point, Beane’s asking price is out of touch with reality.  

Now, throw in either Justin Duchscherer or Huston Street and some of the farm’s better talent becomes a good possibility.