Lowell Cohn: Coco Crisp worth every dollar at top of A's lineup

  • Oakland Athletics Coco Crisp warms up during baseball batting practice before Game 1 of the Athletics' American League division series against the Detroit Tigers in Oakland, Calif., Friday, Oct. 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

OAKLAND — Coco Crisp wasn't included in the printed list of attendees at Oakland A's Media Day on Friday. Then he showed up.

Between the printing of the list and the actual event, he had signed a two-year extension worth more than $22 million, and that kind of green makes a man glad to wear the green and gold and to do something extra for the team. So, you bet he showed up at Media Day.

Let's say off the top Crisp is worth the money. When the A's signed him in 2011, I asked Billy Beane why he had spent on Crisp when the A's were so "frugal," or just plain cheap. Beane said because Crisp was available. Beane meant Crisp was one heck of a player and he'd be nuts to pass on him.

Who is Coco Crisp to the A's?

He is a veteran on a constantly evolving team. He is among the best center fielders in baseball, even though he lacks a rocket arm. He has power. Amazingly, he hit 22 homers last season — his previous high was 16 nine years ago. He steals bases, although his 21 last season were low for him. His legs were hurting. They don't hurt anymore. He is a perfect leadoff hitter. He is a better player than Giants center fielder Angel Pagan, a very good player.

A's batting coach Chili Davis, who attended Media Day, said Crisp is the leader of the clubhouse, sets the tone, embodies the standard. Davis said Crisp has a perfect baseball temperament, does not fret after making a bad play. "He's a lot cooler than I ever was," Davis said.

Crisp wore sneakers to Media Day — it was a fashion statement — and an A's jersey and he flashed a 22-million-dollar smile. He said he loves playing in Oakland because of manager Bob Melvin. Melvin was the first person he mentioned.

And he loves the A's because he gets to hang with Rickey Henderson, his idol, and because of his teammates and because the A's are two-time defending American League West champs. He also said owner Lew Wolff loaned him his private jet when one of his children was born. If Crisp asked me, I would have loaned him my private jet.

We've heard that Melvin thing before. Players want to play for him because he tells them what's what and takes the guesswork out of things, even if what he tells them isn't always good news.

We've also heard the team thing, how players like being on the A's. And it's true. They are so different from the Giants — this is not a knock on the Giants. It's just that the Giants recently have won the World Series two times and there are star egos in that clubhouse — deservedly so. Players with star egos include Buster Posey, Matt Cain and Pagan.

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