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Coco Crisp is misguided. Painfully.

I make this statement after reading an article about him in the Chronicle. Ran the other day. Crisp says the A’s are screwing him out of $13 million he’s earned fair and square.

When I first read the article, I was so darned angry at the A’s, the skinflint A’s. There they go again.

Susan Slusser wrote the piece, Susan the consummate reporter, Susan a friend of mine. She quoted all relevant parties in the dispute and never once disclosed her bias — if she even has one. The detachment of a beat writer.

Crisp is crisped off, Susan explained, because he believes the A’s are keeping him out of games on purpose. Why would the A’s do that? Because he gets vested for 2017 if he appears in 130 games this season, and they don’t want him to get vested. That’s what Crisp thinks. I’ll get back to vesting in a minute, a concept I’ve ruthlessly ignored my entire adult life.

“I’m extremely hurt, the way things are being handled,” Crisp told Susan. He also said, “I’ve left a lot of blood, sweat and even broken bones out there for them.”

When I read those quotes, I felt Coco’s hurt. I was a total Coco Crisp fan, the A’s kicking the little guy — Crisp and you and me.

To be fair to all sides, I did a little research before blasting the A’s in thought and written words. Took a look at Crisp’s stats this season and last.

In 2015, Crisp played only 44 games because of injuries. Not a lot of games. He batted a career-low .175. Not a lot of batting average. Had zero home runs. Not a lot of home runs. This season, at the advanced baseball age of 36, he was batting .235 — before Saturday’s game against the White Sox. Not a lot of batting average. He doesn’t field so well anymore, and his throwing arm is substandard.

Not a lot of player.

But OK, these things happen. Happen in the best of families. I still hadn’t come to terms with vesting. I kept thinking it was a performance bonus. He’d play 130 games and get a cash bonus. So why were the A’s being so cheap?

I looked up “vesting option” on MLB.com to be sure of the facts. Get a load of this definition.

“A vesting option is an optional year at the end of the contract that becomes guaranteed if the player reaches a certain performance incentive threshold. Vesting options are typically based on playing time incentives such as plate appearances, innings pitched, games started or games finished.”

Oh. We’re not talking a performance bonus here. Nothing so trivial. We’re talking a whole extra season. If Crisp plays in 130 games, the A’s owe him an entire year of salary.

What would that salary be? Kind of curious now. Went online and researched his contract. Get a load of this.

Two years ago, Crisp signed an extension with Oakland. All praise to Coco. In 2015, he earned $11 million for his 44 games. That’s 250 grand a game. Such a deal.

This season, he also is earning $11 million even though he’s not very good. You add up those two seasons, it comes to $22 million. Keep that number in mind.

Me, I would be happy with $22 million. Delirious is more like it. Not Coco. He wants more. His contract states if he plays those 130 games, he’s guaranteed full salary in 2017.

And what would that full salary be?

A mere $13 million.

A raise.


Coco Crisp feels hurt because the A’s won’t give him $13 million for accomplishing, basically, nothing.

He wants the A’s to cough up the coin to show they like him, to affirm he’s a nice man, to prove they are nice people, to validate his service to the club, so his feelings won’t be hurt. To pay because he’d like them better that way. To pay because somehow it’s the right thing to do. To pay him because he wants to be paid.

Except this is business. The A’s would be nuts to pay him another $13 million for any reason. He clearly doesn’t figure in their plans for next season. They don’t say they’re keeping him out of games to avoid the vesting payment — but they probably are. They say they’re looking at younger players, getting a line on how they play, blah, blah.

If I ran the A’s, I’d do and say exactly the same stuff. The A’s aren’t being cheap with Crisp. They are innocent of cheap. They are being prudent. I can’t believe I’m defending them, but I most certainly am.

I’ll add this. It was unseemly of Crisp to unload his gripe on the media and the fans. I am not criticizing Susan. Not at all. I’m a beat writer and a well-known player comes to me with that kind of news, a player on a team that generates almost no news on the field, I write the story in a heartbeat. It was Susan’s professional duty to write Crisp’s lament.

But, I am criticizing Crisp. In this crummy economic world, he’s publicly whining about not getting an additional $13 million. Whining after he already got $22 million. So out of touch, Crisp and many other professional athletes. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are going on about relief for the middle class, and Crisp thinks we should feel bad for him, a multimillionaire set for life. Thinks we should care.

According to his contract, he gets $750,000 if the A’s don’t vest him for 2017. Any reasonable person would be happy with a severance of $750,000. If Coco doesn’t want the severance, give it to me.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.

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