Sorry Coco Crisp, but the A’s want Yoenis Cespedes in center field this year. According to a recent post by San Francisco Chronicle writer Susan Slusser, the A’s want Cespedes, their $36 million man, in center field and Crisp in left field.
With $36 million invested in Cespedes, the A’s decision to start the former Cuban star in the Opening Series in Japan makes sense. Crisp, meanwhile, will have to adjust to life in left field, a place that the 32-year old hasn’t seen much action in since the 2005 season. The A’s are hopeful, though, that the versatile Crisp will have no problem transitioning.
The A’s had entered spring training with Crisp penciled in as the team’s primary center fielder, but once the club acquired the mysterious Cespedes all things changed. In fact, as Slusser notes in her article, one of the main reasons why Crisp re-signed with Oakland this year was because he thought the center field job would be all his. His re-signing, though, was met with some mixed-feelings as some felt the team overspent for Crisp’s services.
Last year, Crisp hit .264/.314/.379 with 8 HR and 54 RBIs and an AL-leading 49 steals. For $14 million, though, Crisp’s price-tag is still a little too much for the usually frugal Athletics. Then again, the Cespedes deal was a little out of character as well.
With Crisp, the A’s get a reliable, well-respected defender for $14 million. Offensively, he pairs up well with 2B Jemile Weeks and should help the green-and-gold score runs in 2012. While the A’s may not have an overwhelming offense, the team could surprise a few people with the combination of Weeks and Crisp atop the lineup and Cespedes hitting in the heart of the order.
It’s still unclear whether Cespedes actually represents an upgrade in center field, but the A’s are trying pretty much everything in order to improve this year. Last year, the A’s struggled mightily on defense and led the AL with 124 errors (.979 FPCT).
Defensively, the A’s look to get back on track this year under manager Bob Melvin. Having a solid defense would definitely help the team’s extremely young starting rotation. Crisp, Cespedes, and perhaps a guy like Josh Reddick will help lead Oakland’s outfield to defensive excellence.
If Crisp had his way, though, the A’s would open the Japan series with himself in center field while the newbie Cespedes appeared in left. Sorry, Coco.