With that out of the way ... I don't get it. Unless someone is traded, this makes no sense at all for the A's. Sweeney has to play, because he's an outstanding outfielder and a decent enough hitter who's young enough to get better. Rajai Davis isn't as young, and it's far from obvious that he'll ever hit as well again as he did in 2009. But he does seem to be an excellent defensive center fielder. And Scott Hairston is decent enough to play, to say nothing of giant prospect Michael Taylor, just acquired from the Blue Jays.
The logical reason why Beane would choose to invest his limited resources in an outfielder when he already has a number of good outfield options centers around defense. As ESPN's Buster Olney noted yesterday, the Athletics seem to focusing their attention around pitching and defense. And with so many young pitchers on staff, it would make sense for Beane to surround them with the best outfield defense possible.
And now with Crisp on board, the Athletics outfield defense should be one of the best in baseball. Between Coco Crisp (19.6 UZR in 2009), Rajai Davis (16.2 UZR in 2009), and Ryan Sweeney (27.6 UZR in 2009), the Athletics outfield defense will be loaded with speed and should cover tons of ground.
The problem that I have with this deal is purely based on economics. Beane has limited resources to begin with and even though $5 million for Crisp might be a good deal if he's healthy, is that really a good deal for the A's? Assuming that the Athletics payroll remains in the $50-$60 million dollar range for 2010, was it really smart for Beane to commit 8%-10% of their payroll to a guy who likely will not help the A's make it to the playoffs and will probably only be around for one season. And as Neyer mentioned in his piece, the A's already have Scott Hairston, who could play a sufficient left field for the A's in 2010 for a few million dollars less than Crisp. So ask yourself this, was Coco Crisp really necessary for the rebuilding Athletics?
And how's this for a strange nugget: if Coco Crisp signs with the Athletics, he will become their 3rd highest paid player.