First up, Coco v. Ellsbury:
Boston Center Field - Coco Crisp vs. Jacoby Ellsbury
2007 .268/.330/.382 .353/.394/.509
2008 (Pecota) .278/.338/.407 .287/.346/.395
2008 (Zips) .271/.333/.410 .297/.349/.392
This one will be interesting. With Curt Schilling likely out for an extended period of time (if not the entire season), it would not be surprising to see Crisp dealt for starting pitching depth before Opening Day. Barring such a deal, however, Francona will be tested. Crisp is an appalingly frustrating hitter to watch and the vocal Boston fanbase is ready for a change. Not helping his cause is that his fielding prowess is not necessarily discernible to the naked eye. He is one of the very best defensive center fielders in baseball. Furthermore, Ellsbury dazzled in last year's playoffs, and Red Sox fans are chomping at the bit to see the kid get a fulltime shot.
But have a look at the numbers above. Given his superior glovework, Crisp looks like he is the better option. If Theo and the Boston brass stand pat and head into the season with both players on the roster, Francona's resolve will be tested.
I agree with homeboy that Coco is appalling to watch at the plate and a joy to watch in the field. I'd be pleasantly surprised if Coco were to pick up 25-30 points of SLG this year (as PECOTA and ZIPS project, but I'm not very hopeful about it. My guess is that the projections are inflated because they are factoring in his last year in Cleveland as part of their projections.
I think Jacoby will outperform those projections by a bit - though I see his OPS in the high .700s, approaching .800, as opposed to the .900 we saw last year. And everything I've heard about Jacoby is that he will be excellent defensively too, so it won't be too much of a drop from Coco to him.
And then there's the intangibles, which based on last year's playoff performances alone, certainly favor Ellsbury.
Though I have to say, given Coco's potential to make a scene if he's not the starter, it might be worth having Ellsbury ride the pine to keep up Coco's trade value.
Anyways, read the rest of the article, and check out the Baseball Analysts site.