Again, this is another example of Dayton Moore and the Kansas City Royals making aggressive moves to improve some of the weaknesses from the 2008 version of the club. Already this offseason, the Royals have moved two successful relievers from their bullpen to acquire useful parts. With this move, the Royals have picked up a ton of defensive range in the outfield because now the Royals can move David DeJesus back into left-field, where he is best suited and enjoy watching Crisp run down and make some incredible plays in a spacious Kauffman Stadium.
Crisp's time in Boston was forgettable, as he saw his offensive numbers decline from his days in Cleveland and eventually lost the starting job to Jacoby Ellsbury. Now in Kansas City, he will be granted one more chance at becoming a leadoff-type hitter and the Royals should be well rewarded with having a player who has something to prove. While I reference Crisp as being a leadoff-type it is because he does not have a lot of power and does have speed. His .331 career on base percentage does leave him a lot of room to improve with respect to patience. At 29 years old, that is probably not going to happen, but he will probably be the best option for Trey Hillman at this point. I do have some level of expectations that 2009 could be a surprising season for Crisp as he will be in a situation without nearly as much pressure and he can play his game again.
What this does to the Royals now is it makes Mark Teahen or Jose Guillen expendable. If Moore is able to make a trade to move one of those outfielders to acquire some bullpen help, where they are now weak after this and the Mike Jacobs trade we are looking at a 75-87 team that has successfully added power, defensive range and speed without really losing a whole lot. If they add another starter, this team really is starting to look competitive in a weak AL Central. Here is what the starting 9 and rotation currently project after the trade today:
Joe Buck / Miguel Olivo, C
Mike Jacobs, 1B
Alberto Castillo, 2B
Alex Gordon, 3B
Mike Aviles, SS
David DeJesus, LF
Coco Crisp, CF
Jose Guillen, RF* (or Mark Teahen)
Billy Butler, DH
Not to mention two fringe prospects (Kila Ka'aihue, Mitch Maier) and several other useful spare parts (Tony Pena Jr. - Defense; Ryan Shealy - Pinch Hitter (Power); Ross Gload - Pinch Hitter; Joey Gathright - Speed) available to provide the Royals with a fairly impressive bench.
Gil Meche, RH
Zach Greinke, RH
Luke Hochevar, RH
Brian Bannister, RH
Kyle Davies, RH
Righties aplenty, but with Meche and Greinke looking like a formidable 1-2 punch and three other promising younger pitchers, the Royals would benefit from adding a solid veteran to put some pressure on Hochevar, Bannister or Davies to take one of the last two spots in the rotation. Oliver Perez makes sense if the price is reasonable. Paul Byrd could provide some veteran leadership for one season as a lower tiered option.
I will continue to say it...watch this team in 2009. Their major weakness that I see right now is a projected low team on-base percentage, who knows what Moore will have up his sleeve next to solve that issue. Perhaps a catcher that can work a walk? Gregg Zaun? Keep an eye on the Royals.