The A’s anticipated signing of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes brings a crucial question to the forefront: Who will play center field for this team? Do the A’s go with Cespedes, the newcomer who is accustomed to playing center and agreed Monday to a four-year $36 million deal? Or do they stick with Coco Crisp, the incumbent at the position who re-signed with Oakland this winter on a two-year contract? I wouldn’t call it a controversy at this point, but it’s an issue that will need to be addressed quickly for all parties involved once position players report to camp Feb. 24.
Manager Bob Melvin responded Wednesday to comments Crisp made to the San Francisco Chronicle about his desire to remain in center. “If someone feels there’s someone better than me, it’s hard for me to believe,” Crisp said. “Unless (Cespedes) is a demigod come down from the heavens, no one is going to outshine me in center field.” Melvin’s reaction? “I’m not upset by his comments,” the manager told this newspaper. “I want him having that kind of confidence in playing center field. And in my opinion, he’s one of the best center fielders in the game.” Nothing concrete to glean from that, except that Melvin has a ton of confidence in Crisp patrolling center. There’s lots of issues for the A’s to consider here, chief among them: Would allowing Cespedes to play center ease his transition to the big leagues and help him perform better? And if Cespedes’ arm is as good as people claim it is, might he be put to better use in right field and let Crisp remain in center?
Melvin said he hasn’t spoken with Crisp since news of Cespedes’ deal broke Monday. But knowing how big Melvin is on communicating with his players and letting them know where they stand, I’d expect a conversation to take place as soon as Crisp arrives in camp, if they don’t talk sooner.
Any thoughts on how you think the A’s starting outfield will materialize?