Nine days after the A’s wrapped up an improbable season and eight days since general manager Billy Beane all but guaranteed to keep the roster together, Beane begun his retooling. Beane sent short stop/second baseman Cliff Pennington and minor leaguer Yordy Cabrera to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange of outfielder Chris Young. And in so doing, Beane has effectively stumped his fanbase.
The trade as effectively ruled out the re-signing of fan favorite Jonny Gomes and has seriously put into the question the status of another: Coco Crisp.
Crisp enjoyed one of his better seasons in 2012, accumulating a WAR of 2.9. He was essential to the A’s playoff run, helping the club to a 68-43 record in games he started. He was also equally essential to the igniting of the fan base, which had become taken by Crisp’s Bernie Lean. Ultimately, the acquisition of Young means, at the very least, that Crisp’s role with the team will be significantly reduced in 2013.
Young gives the team a stellar defensive centerfielder with great isolated power — two things Crisp lacks. Young’s UZR/150 of 21.1 not only trumps Crisp’s -1.5, but ranks fourth best among outfielders with over 700 innings logged. Even in what was characterized as a “down year” for Young, his WAR was only a tenth of a point behind Crisp. So, yeah, Young is better … at baseball anyway — I haven’t seen his bernie lean.
Beane, of course, told reporters there was no reason to think that Crisp, Young, Yeonis Cespedes, and Josh Reddick couldn’t co-exist together peacefully. “I’d encourage everybody to not go the route of, ‘Hey, they’re moving this guy, they’re moving that guy,’ ” Beane said. “First and foremost, Coco. He’s been a personal favorite of mine.”
Beane is a shrew business man. If he weren’t, the A’s likely don’t have as magical of a 2012 campaign. He traded prominent players such as Gio Gonzalez, Andrew Bailey, and Trevor Cahill last season, a few of which were his favorites, I’m sure. So, personal favorite or no, Crisp’s job security is in serious question, especially with the middle infield’s current state.
The lesson for A’s fans is simple: Don’t get too attached. Beane, for the better, is committed to winning, not relationships. Which is to say, Crisp’s ticket out of Oakland has been all but punched. The players that replace him will be alien and unknown. That much is certain. But, if 2012 taught us anything, it is this: Even if Beane jettison’s fan favorites, he replaces with others more than capable of filling the void. So, whatever corresponding moves are to come, I’m sure they’ll be good ones.