The Oakland Athletics’ once-dynamic outfielder Coco Crisp is still somewhat of a question mark as the 2016 season approaches. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Crisp has been swinging the bat this offseason, but it is still unclear as to what kind of shape he is in. This will be addressed during spring training.
For Crisp, 2015 was a dismal season. His chronic neck injury limited him to only 44 games and he only started 27 of those games in the outfield. Unfortunately for Crisp, the only way to completely solve his neck issues is to have career-ending surgery. That does not seem like an option for him at the moment.
However, in order to stave off the symptoms, Crisp has to change the way he swings, slides into base, and fields in the outfield. After 13 years in the MLB, it could be difficult to teach this old dog some new tricks. Interestingly enough, GM David Forst spoke to the media in November of 2015 and told them that he was optimistic about Crisp contributing both offensively and defensively in 2016.
Thankfully, if the Oakland Athletics’ plan to use Crisp ultimately flops, they have a number of backup outfielders to fill his shoes. None of them may be as dynamic or powerful in the outfield or at the top of the lineup as Crisp, but they are adequate substitutes. There is Sam Fuld, Jake Smolinski, Mark Canha, and Andrew Lambo. Billy Burns and Josh Reddick will cover center and right field respectively.
Crisp will definitely be one to watch during spring. If his neck injury is affecting just his fielding abilities, the A’s might put Crisp in the DH role on a more regular basis. If Billy Butler fails to find his power this upcoming season while Crisp excels as a designated hitter, this would be especially beneficial for the Athletics.
Only time will tell as to how much Crisp will contribute both defensively and offensively this year. He will be evaluated closely during the spring and if his skills are not up to par due to his injury, the Athletics will not be afraid to sit him out. Let’s hope that he can positively contribute at least a little in 2016 or else he will be taking up a highly valuable roster spot that could have gone to a young, up-and-coming rookie.