I think Billy Beane is an excellent GM, and I agree with most of his moves.
But it's been reported that the A's are close to a 1-year deal with free agent outfielder Coco Crisp, and while I think Crisp is a fine player, such a move leaves me scratching my head as to what Beane is doing.
Presumably, the A's will go into 2010 with Rajai Davis in center field and Ryan Sweeney in right field. Crisp would slot into left field.
Crisp is a career .271/.331/.407 hitter, which is shy of acceptable for a left fielder.
It's been suggested that Crisp could push Davis to left, and Crisp's offense is good for a center fielder, but Davis' career line (.280/.336/.387) isn't any better than Crisp's, so the problem isn't solved.
The A's already have a more powerful alternative, Scott Hairston, on hand. He slugged .456 last year, closer to what a left fielder needs to do, power-wise, than Crisp. Crisp slugged just .378 last year.
With Sweeney and Davis, two singles hitters, occupying the other two outfield slots, adding Crisp would make the Oakland outfield almost completely devoid of power. It would be a surprise to see the three combine for 25 homers next year.
Now, Crisp is a stellar defender (+23.5 career UZR/150 in left; +19.6 last year in center), so some of the lack of power would be made up for in defense (Sweeney and Davis are also excellent defenders), but Hairston (+8.2 career UZR/150 in left) isn't a slouch himself.
Furthermore, adding Crisp as a starter would seemingly block top prospect Michael Taylor, who was recently acquired from the Blue Jays.
It also means that Eric Patterson, Aaron Cunningham, and Travis Buck may all be returning to Triple-A next year. Patterson, who had a .373 OBP last year in Oakland, showed considerable promise.
2010 needs to be the year when the A's figure out who's ready to lead a charge at the division title in 2011. In adding Crisp for 2010, they've blocked the chances of several players to prove themselves.
This move only makes sense if Davis or Sweeney is traded in the offseason, something I could definitely see Beane doing.
Perhaps he'll try selling high on Davis, whose .305/.360/.423 line, while excellent, is far removed from the more pedestrian numbers that had marked his career prior to 2009.
With Davis gone, a Hairston-Crisp-Sweeney outfield would make plenty of sense. But Crisp-Davis-Sweeney, with Hairston on the bench and Patterson in Triple-A? That's a terrible arrangement.
I think Crisp's money, whatever it is, could be better spent on a veteran pitcher to shore up the back of the rotation behind Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden, and Gio Gonzalez.
But now the tight-budget A's may have to dive further into the dumpster to find someone to fill that role.
Barring a Davis or Sweeney trade, I really don't like this move at all.