Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Coco Crisp-Jacoby Ellsbury Shuffle

Anyone remember the 2007 playoffs when Jacoby Ellsbury burst onto the scene with his speed, defense, and good looks to propel the Red Sox to a World Series victory? Ellsbury seemed to be unstoppable at the time and came through with huge plays-both offensively and defensively. Ellsbury was not the Red Sox starting outfielder for most of the 2007 season, but his hot play forced manager Terry Francona to play Ellsbury over former starter Coco Crisp, who was relegated to fourth outfielder. Crisp asked to be traded in the offseason, but GM Theo Epstein could not find a suitable taker.

Fast forward to 2008. Jacoby Ellsbury has been the Red Sox starting CF for the entire season while Crisp's play has fluctuated based on injuries and rest. Crisp's only notable moment this season was his matrix-esque dodging of a James Shields punch. Needless to say, it was not a very good season for Crisp. However, during the postseason, Jacoby Ellsbury has suddenly become colder than Jason Varitek by not recording a hit in his 14 postseason at bats. Ellsbury's slump has opened the door for Coco Crisp to regain his starting OF spot. And fortunately for the Red Sox, Crisp has thrived so far by hitting .500 in 16 postseason ABs including a huge hit off of Dan Wheeler in game 5 of the ALCS.

In part because of Crisp's hot streak, the Red Sox are now one game away from the World Series. Kudos to GM Theo Epstein for not trading Crisp. Depth is key to the success of any baseball team. It's funny how the Ellsbury and Crisp's roles have reversed from 2007 to 2008. With that said, Ellsbury is still the long term starter on this team and Crisp will probably ask to be traded again at the end of this season.

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