In early January, the Oakland A's caught some people off guard by re-signing Coco Crisp to a two-year contract worth $14 million. It seemed like the A's were rebuilding and dedicating themselves entirely to youth, and Crisp is 32. But then, Crisp is familiar, and the A's needed a center fielder. So it was a little weird, but not nonsensical.
In the middle of February, the Oakland A's caught a lot more people off guard by signing Cuban ballplayer Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year contract worth $36 million. Among the people they caught off guard was Coco Crisp, who didn't feel like he should move to accommodate Cespedes, also a center fielder. Susan Slusser:
"I'm going to make all the plays," Crisp said. "If someone feels there's someone better than me, it's hard for me to believe. Unless he's a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field."
Well, despite Crisp's words, it seemed a foregone conclusion that he'd be bumped to left. Cespedes was the bigger investment, after all, and Crisp has 216 games of major-league experience in the corner. The only question left to answer was whether Cespedes would make the A's immediately out of camp, or go to the minors for a spell. Slusser's got the news:
Cespedes will go to Japan and will play CF. Crisp will be in left. #Athletics— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 19, 2012
Cespedes is breaking camp with the A's, and he's going to play in center field while Crisp plays in left. It was always the most likely outcome, and now it's basically confirmed. Cespedes, mind you, hasn't torn up the Cactus League in the early going, having batted 3-for-17, but he homered in his first game and he's looked really good in practice and intrasquads. He's learning quickly, and the A's feel confident that he can learn at the big-league level.
Melvin said Crisp handled news like a pro. Melvin says he, Melvin, still believes Crisp one of best CF in league. #Athletics— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) March 19, 2012
The first pitcher Cespedes will face in a meaningful game will be Felix Hernandez.