Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
#4: Trading Coco Crisp
There were many unpopular moves Shapiro made during his tenure as GM. He traded fan favorites like Victor Martinez, Cliff Lee, and CC Sabathia; however, the one that probably hurt the most was when he traded 26 year old Coco Crisp to the Boston Red Sox after the 2005 season. The Indians were coming off a remarkable 93-win season in a year when many projected them to be no higher than 3rd or 4th in the division. They missed out on the Wild Card by just two games and had a shot at the division title up until the last week of the season when the eventually World Series champion White Sox knocked them out.
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The nucleus of that team seemed strong and big things were on the minds of Tribe fans heading into 2006. Young superstar Grady Sizemore showed in 2005 that he could be one of the best players in the game and displaced Coco Crisp to LF the previous season. Crisp was not a typical leftfielder as he didn’t have big power (though did hit 31 total home runs in 2004 and 2005). Shapiro, seeing that he had two very good, young centerfielders on the roster looked to capitalize on that depth and used Crisp as trade bait to fill other holes on the roster.
While this upset many fans (including myself) at the time, it did make some sense. Crisp’s value was much higher in CF vs LF, so if you could trade him to a club that would use him in CF the return could make the loss of him in LF worth it. Shapiro appeared to do just that getting a top ten prospect in all of baseball in 3B Andy Marte plus an organizational top ten prospect in Kelly Shoppach. All in all, the deal involved seven players but the key members were Crisp, Marte, and Shoppach.
Crisp never hit as well in Boston as he did his last two years in Cleveland, but Marte had an even tougher time living up to expectations. Casey Blake, who had moved to RF, eventually took over 3B in 2007 leaving Marte without a position and out of a job. His bat never turned into what experts predicted, and he was one of the bigger prospect busts of the last decade. Over parts of five seasons with the Indians, Marte batted just .224/.281/.369 with 20 home runs in 278 games. A far cry from the franchise cornerstone he was thought to be.
Shoppach did manage to have a few good years as a backup catcher but never developed into anything more than that. Trading a young, controllable talent such as Crisp needed to net the Indians more than a Quad-A infielder and backup catcher. So while the theory behind the trade made sense, the execution was quite terrible, especially when you consider that Red Sox farm system included the likes of Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury…
Next: #3: Trading Brandon Phillips