|In their second offseason trade for an established big leaguer, the Royals acquired center fielder Coco Crisp from the Red Sox for righthanded reliever Ramon Ramirez. With the improving play of Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston felt comfortable in dealing Crisp, the club’s regular in 2006 and 2007 but a part-timer in 2008.|
|Ramirez, 27, went 3-2, 2.64 and struck out 70 and walked 31 in 71 2/3 innings as the Royals’ eighth-inning bridge to closer Joakim Soria. He pitches at 92-94 mph but relies just as much on a strong split-changeup and a hard slider. His acquisition allows the Red Sox some flexibility in the bullpen, in case they want to convert Justin Masterson back into a starter. Ramirez, a native of the Dominican Republic, caught the attention of the Yankees in March 2003, after pitching for Hiroshima in Japan’s Central League. He’s been traded three times now in four seasons since 2005, going from the Yankees to the Rockies for Shawn Chacon at the ’05 deadline and from Colorado to the Royals during spring training ’08.
Crisp, who will be 29 next season, assumes Kansas City’s everyday center field job and sends David DeJesus to left field. He’s a fine defender and a consistent switch-hitter who has batted .280/.331/.409 in a seven-year big league career. Crisp is under contract for $5.75 million in 2009, after which the Royals can keep him for one year and $8 million or buy him out for $500,000.
On the one hand, the Royals see Crisp as a defensive upgrade on DeJesus in center, but is getting him for one year going to push them over the top? Is it worth giving up four years of a potentially effective relief work from Ramirez? And for Boston, is it worth trading a useful role player like Crisp for a 27-year-old reliever who has a short track record of success and who missed much of one of his three big league seasons with an elbow injury?