Ask and ye shall receive, apparently.
The Red Sox have been pestering the Indians for Coco Crisp pretty much since Johnny Damon bolted for the Yankees last month. Sunday, it was revealed that the Indians might have finally cracked. Cleveland and Boston have reportedly hammered out a tentative deal to send Crisp to Boston.
Taken in the context of who they are reportedly to receive in exchange, the deal makes some sense. But that might not be the whole story if the Phillies get involved, as The Plain Dealer reported today.
The deal, as it purportedly stands, would send Crisp to Boston for reliver Guillermo Mota and third-base prospect Andy Marte. Mota is regarded as one of the better right-handed setup men in baseball, with a 3.61 career ERA in stints with the Expos, Dodgers and Marlins.
The Red Sox acquired him as part of the Josh Beckett trade earlier in the offseason. Last year with the Marlins, he set up closer Todd Jones, going 2-2 with two saves. His ERA, 4.70, was a bit high, but he held opposing hitters to a .254 batting average.
In 2003, Mota had a tremendous season for the Dodgers, going 6-3 with a 1.97 ERA in 76 appearances.
Mota would be a very capable replacement for Bob Howry. Paired with Arthur Rhodes, the two would give the Indians one of the top set up corps in the majors.
Marte has piqued the Indians' interest for a while. Coming up through the Braves system, he was highly coveted by many teams, considered a top third base prospect. The Red Sox landed him in the Edgar Renteria trade.
In a handful of games, he hit .227 for Atlanta last year. Marte would likely be groomed as Aaron Boone's replacement, possibly by 2007.
All of it would make sense if not for the sizeable hole Crisp's absence would leave in left field. That's where the Phillies might come in, and that's where things get a bit hairy.
The Plain Dealer also reported that the Indians might turn around and ship Mota to Philadelphia this week for outfielder Jason Michaels.
Michaels, a right-handed hitter, platooned with Kenny Lofton in center field last year for the Phillies. His batting average was good (.304) but the Indians are craving some right-handed power hitting, and Michaels provides little of that. In 105 games last year, he managed only four homers and 31 RBI.
If the Indians acquire Mota, then turn around and deal him for Michaels, I fail to see how they come out ahead in 2006, when everybody will be expecting a playoff run.
The difference between Crisp, a career .287 hitter, and Michaels, a career .291 hitter, is negligible. Michaels might provide a better arm in the outfield, but he likely has less plate discipline than Crisp. Michaels struck out 80 times in 2004 and 45 times last year.
Marte adds a top prospect to the upper tiers of the farm system, but the likelyhood he'll be able to contribute anything meaningful before 2007 is small.
And, without Mota, you'd still be rolling the dice on the rebounding Danny Graves or washed-up Steve Karsay to replace Howry.
If the Indians are satisfied with Mota's physical, they might keep him and send either Rhodes or David Riske to the Phillies for Michaels. Here's hoping that's the case, preferably with Riske.