By Jason Wojciechowski on May 21, 2012 at 5:00 PM
Coco Crisp is back! Exclamation points all around! They're free, you know.
... say what? This isn't a time of joy and good tidings for all men and most cats? Coco Crisp had a decent .263 TAv last year but looked completely lost in his 73 PA before going on the disabled list this season? Josh Reddick and Seth Smith and Jonny Gomes are all out-hitting him now and are very likely to continue to do so for as long as they all shall live? And Collin Cowgill might actually have a role on a theoretical future good A's team while Crisp will be lucky to get out of 2013 alive?
Yeah, it's all true. Now, I don't quite think we should just cut Crisp or give him away because he is, after all, very likely the best center-fielder on the team. Yes, his arm, sure, sure, but we've all seen how valuable Yoenis Cespedes's arm has been every time the ball is hit over his head. He's been firing balls into third base like there's no tomorrow because he never seems to catch those hard flies to the track. Nobody gets them all, but Crisp negates the need to use his arm with pretty good regularity.
Given that, and given his speed and base-stealing chops (94/108 the last three years), and given that his bat over the last few years indicates that he's bad rather than horrendous (PECOTA projected a .255 TAv coming into 2012), he can be a perfectly adequate fourth outfielder, if perhaps an expensive one.
"But Collin Cowgill can do that for cheaper!" Well, two things. First, maybe he can't. The guy is 26 and still hasn't forced his way into consistent big-league time and nobody seems sure whether he can really handle center. (Although it's notable that Bob Melvin wanted him out in the middle pasture instead of Josh Reddick.) Second, Cowgill's cheaper only in a pre-Crisp world. The A's have this contract. It's an obligation to pay Crisp $14 million whether he plays for them or not. So it comes down to a pure question, doesn't it? Is Crisp better than Cowgill? Will he be in 2013? Will Crisp playing instead of Cowgill mean that Cowgill won't develop into a useful player for 2014 and 2015?
I think you can see where I'm leaning on this in 2012 and 2013. As to that development question, you've got to look around at what the A's have in their organization. 2014 will be Seth Smith's final arbitration year. Michael Choice is currently in AA. Grant Green is in AAA. 2014 is also two off-seasons away, and we've seen what Billy Beane can pull out of his ... hat in an off-season. How high are the odds that the A's will even want Collin Cowgill, much less need him?
Anyway, Eric Sogard got sent down, which makes me pretty sad, because I like Eric Sogard. Josh Donaldson is back at third base now, though, and Brandon Inge was the man before Donaldson returned, so it's a straight-forward utility-man question between Sogard and Adam Rosales. I don't know how you pick between them, and it's not entirely clear to me why you choose Rosales now when you chose Sogard two months ago, unless you're just really excited about Rosales hitting .500/.800/.500 (in five PAs), but it really doesn't matter, for this team or for most any team. Honestly, I'm just choosing based on which guy is more Tiger Beat-worthy.