Shapiro defends Crisp deal
The Tribe's GM said the move will give the Indians a better chance to win.
CLEVELAND (AP) -- Indians general manager Mark Shapiro would prefer winning a World Series to placing first in a popularity contest.
One day after trading fan favorite Coco Crisp to Boston in a multi-player trade, Shapiro defended the move, saying it puts the Indians in position to win in 2006 and leaves the organization stronger in the long run.
"I hope we have built some [fan] trust through our decisions of the last three years," Shapiro said Saturday. "I say bear with me, hang in there and trust that we have a very bright future in 2006 and beyond."
Late Friday, the Indians dealt outfielder Crisp, right-handed reliever David Riske and backup catcher Josh Bard to the Red Sox. Cleveland received reliever Guillermo Mota, third-base prospect Andy Marte, young catcher Kelly Shoppach, $1 million and a player to be named.
Got Michaels from Phillies
Before that deal was finalized, the Indians sent reliever Arthur Rhodes to Philadelphia for outfielder Jason Michaels, the probable replacement for Crisp as Cleveland's starting left fielder.
"We probably would not have done that if not for the other trade, though we like Jason quite a bit," Shapiro said. "But we would not have taken Arthur off the club if we couldn't add another pitcher to work in an eighth-inning role."
That's Mota, whose physical status delayed both transactions.
"There was some cause for concern," Shapiro said of the right-hander, who missed more than a month with a sore elbow last season in Florida before the Marlins included him in a trade that sent right-hander Josh Beckett and third baseman Mike Lowell to the Red Sox.
Shapiro said Mota will soon be in Cleveland to start a "pre-emptive" exercise program with team trainers. The cash and yet-to-be included player from Boston were added to "mitigate some of our risk" in taking on the 32-year-old who went 2-2 with a 4.70 ERA and two saves in 56 games in 2005.
"This was a complex transaction," Shapiro said. "It could have been no deal. But we feel strongly that our team will be in better position for the long haul."
Competition at catcher
Shoppach, 25, will compete with veteran Einar Diaz for the backup spot at catcher. Marte, 22, who hit .275 last year with 20 homers and 74 RBIs in 109 games in Triple-A likely will return to the minors to start this season.
"Defensively, Marte is major league ready," Shapiro said. "We'd like to see him develop his two-strike approach, but he's ready if we need him this year. Shoppach's a good receiver who can hit for power."
Veteran third baseman Aaron Boone's contract expires after this season and until acquiring Marte, the Indians did not have a player in their system that they were confident could move up quickly. First-round picks Corey Smith (2000) and Matt Whitney (2002) have not panned out. Smith struggled in the minors and was dealt to San Diego last winter, while Whitney's progress was set back by a broken leg in 2003.
Shapiro said he believes the Indians have moved forward. He does not share some fans' concern over the defending champion Chicago White Sox adding bigger names such as Jim Thome and Javier Vasquez this off-season.
"We can't worry about the other teams," Shapiro said. "I still think we have one of the three or four best lineups in the American League."
That's even without Crisp, 26, who hit .300 with 16 homers in 2005.
"At no point did we look to move Coco," Shapiro said. "We had a clear sense of his value."