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Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Red Sox get power arm in exchange for Crisp


A.J. Burnett interests the Red Sox. He has great stuff. Stuff that plays in October interests a franchise for which October is an expectation.

But while the Red Sox have talked to Burnett's agent, Derek Braunecker, the price of a bidding war with the Yankees (Burnett might well get a four-year, $60 million deal) might be too steep for a team that already has Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and Daisuke Matsuzaka in their primes.

So Wednesday, the Red Sox went in another direction, granting Coco Crisp his wish and trading him to Kansas City for Ramon Ramirez, a 27-year-old power reliever Boston feels can be a setup man. He gives the Red Sox the freedom to move Justin Masterson into the rotation if Terry Francona so chooses.

Ramirez had a 2.64 ERA with a 70-31 strikeout-walk ratio in 71 2/3 innings for the Royals in 2008. He also allowed only two home runs in those 71 2/3 innings, which, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, was the second-lowest home run rate in the American League this past season. Needless to say, teams are forever looking for high strikeout/low home run pitchers.

For his career, Ramirez has a 2.15 ERA in 105 innings outside Coors Field (he pitched for the Rockies in 2006 and 2007). He throws 93-95 mph with what the Red Sox believe is a power split and held right-handed batters to a .153 batting average and a .455 OPS in 2008.

Crisp had a .392 on-base percentage after the All-Star break this past season and played very well in a season in which he and Jacoby Ellsbury exchanged the roles of starter and extra man because of injuries to J.D. Drew and Manny Ramirez. He is one of the better defensive center fielders in the game, and his .751 OPS in 2008 and his stellar defensive play are upgrades for the Royals -- whose center fielders had an OPS of .638 this past season.

The Red Sox surveyed what was a surprisingly small market for Crisp -- Cincinnati was the other club with the most interest -- and decided that with Jeremy Affeldt starting out the 2008 free-agent market by signing a two-year, $8 million deal with the Giants, it likely will be easier to find another outfielder than secure a low-cost power reliever.