Red Sox Report: Coco Crisped?

1203540141It may be cold and blustery in Boston, but things are warm and breezy down in Fort Meyers. We’ll check in every afternoon during camp to help you get through the rest of the winter.

You have to feel for Coco Crisp. Here’s a guy who played hurt and was remarkable defensively in a very tough outfield, but there isn’t a soul in Boston who wants to see him open the season in center field. Everyone wants Jacoby Ellsbury, and not just the women who hang out at Cask after games. Aside from making the ladies swoon, Ellsbury is every bit the dynamic offensive player that Coco is not.

Sure, the Red Sox will go through the process of a spring training audition, but unless Ellsbury hits .087 in the Grapefruit League, he’ll be the guy. Knowing this, Coco showed up to camp and reiterated his position.

In a calm and professional manner, he channeled Garry Templeton: If he ain’t startin’ he’d rather be departin’.

That’s a totally fair stance for the six-year veteran to take. He is not at the point in his career when he should be thinking about being a platoon player or an extra outfielder. Before coming to Boston, he was on the verge of being a very good hitter. So why is he still here?

His value is solid but not overwhelming. He’s signed to a deal that runs through next season with a club option for 2010 at about $5 million per, which isn’t crazy for a starting center fielder. The problem is, he’s a little too expensive for a rebuilding team, and they’re aren’t too many other contenders in need of a center fielder.

The Cubs have been mentioned, but they have options and there are no obvious destinations. These things have a way of working themselves out, however. Theo Epstein waited until the last weeks of camp to trade Bronson Arroyo (OK that one didn’t work out so well) and that will probably be the play here.

It also wouldn’t be the worse thing to go into the season with Coco around to spell Manny Ramirez (who arrived in camp on time!) or to have as insurance in case Ellsbury pulls a Pedroia in April. The only downside is if Coco tries to make life miserable for those around him, a la Jay Payton, but there doesn’t seem to be any indication he would go that route.

Aside from finding a fifth starter and a 12th man for the bullpen this would appear to be one of the few decisions the Sox will have to make this spring and they don’t have to rush it.