Piecing it together: who might stay, who might go

As the trade deadline approaches, something is brewing with the Red Sox outfield. Everyone is expecting either Wily Mo Pena or Coco Crisp to be moved. And all signs are that something is indeed happening. Let me explain:

Clue 1: Wily Mo Pena is a cheap right-handed power option. He’s making $1.875 million this season, and is still under control for two more seasons, though he is arbitration eligible. His defense is highly suspect, but he might be okay in left field for a non-contender, and he could blossom into a 35-40 HR hitter, if he learns not to strike out so much. The Sox can not afford to put in in the outfield or in the lineup, the way they are hitting these days.

Clue 2: Coco Crisp has been hitting well (.330 in 88 June at-bats), making him a much more tradeable commodity. His contract is very reasonable, at $4.75 million for 2008 and $5.75 million for 2009, with a club option for 2010. But he bruised his thumb a few games ago, and we haven’t had a whiff of him since June 27th.

Clue 3: Jacoby Ellsbury was suddenly called up from Pawtucket a couple of days ago, signaling that something might be wrong with Crisp. But instead of placing Crisp on the DL, as might be expected, Joel Pineiro went to the 15-day DL. If Crisp isn’t injured, why did they need to call up Ellsbury? Either Crisp is hurt, but the Red Sox don’t want to hurt his tradeability (injured players can not be traded), or they are showcasing Ellsbury for a trade.

Option A
Wily Mo Pena gets unloaded, and Crisp and Ellsbury share the CF/4th outfielder duties.

Option B
Coco Crisp gets traded, and Pena starts, with Ellsbury as his backup.

Option C
Jacoby Ellsbury gets traded, possibly with Pena or Crisp, for a star CF like Ichiro Suzuki or Andruw Jones.

I hope that the Sox go with Option A, which would be the most conservative option. Pena just doesn’t have a role on this team because he lacks minor league options. It also gives the Sox the most flexibility, because Crisp and Ellsbury are both good defensively and can both pinch-run. If Crisp continues to hit, he can start, but if Ellsbury catches fire, good for him. Either way, I don’t see us as worse off than we are right now in CF, and we’re still playing pretty well.

Option B is not a good option unless Ellsbury is good enough to start right now. Pena doesn’t contribute enough with the bat to justify a huge defensive liability in center.

Option C is a tantalizing option, for sure. Ichiro Suzuki has been mentioned, but it is still not clear if Seattle would even consider losing the face of their franchise. The surprise resignation of Mike Hargrove, who didn’t get along with Ichiro, has some pundits predicting that the M’s will re-sign the speedy outfielder. If Suzuki is not available, this option is becoming less attractive with the slide of Andruw Jones this year.


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