The Oakland A’s have been just about the only team in baseball making news, in part for their pursuit of Manny Ramirez, but most notably for signing Cuban free agent Yoenis Cespedes to a four year $36 million contract. With the addition of Cespedes, the Athletics now have two capable center fielders on their roster.
While Coco Crisp’s defensive reputation would lead me to believe that Oakland would move Cespedes to a corner outfield spot rather than shift the team’s current center fielder, the actual decision makers aren’t ready to come up with a final verdict quite yet. Nonetheless, Crisp made his feelings known in a phone interview with Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chornicle about a possible position change.
I’m going to make all the plays. 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.
According to UZR over the last three years, here is a list of the demigods currently playing baseball:
- Brett Gardner
- Franklin Gutierrez
- Andres Torres
- Nyjer Morgan
- Michael Bourn
- Ryan Sweeney
- Austin Jackson
- Denard Span
- Cameron Maybin
- B.J. Upton
- Angel Pagan
- Jacoby Ellsbury
There will be quite a few position shifts around the Majors this coming season due to new acquisitions. While Miguel Cabrera’s move from first to third base to make room for Prince Fielder is likely the most surprising, the most controversial is Hanley Ramirez’s move from shortstop to third base.
Immediately following the Miami Marlins signing of Jose Reyes, rumours began to spread that Ramirez wouldn’t shift further left without a fight. Those rumours brought talk throughout the winter meetings that the Marlins were quietly shopping their now disgruntled former shortstop. Of course, nothing came of it, but the issue is far from resolved, with Miami manager Ozzie Guillen admitting today that Ramirez is still not “100% on board” with a move to third base.
I tend to look at this sort of thing as the white collar workplace equivalent to a corner office. It’s mainly about prestige.
However, there are a couple of differences in the situations in which Crisp and Ramirez find themselves. With all jokes about demigods aside, Crisp has proven his abilities to excel at a defensively demanding position in the past. Ramirez has never excelled at his position. The Marlins have added a player in Reyes who, like Crisp, has played at a high level defensively, while the A’s are bringing in a player with absolutely no big league experience.
For these reasons the two cases offer us the perfect examples of when to fight for your position and when to allow the new guy to take over with grace.