Sunday, January 29, 2006

There Once Was a Catcher from Pawtucket...

Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, who reviews all large cash transactions, is expected to OK last week's deal between the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians. The trade -- in addition to Boston's $1 million cash sweetener -- features key component Coco Crisp, 26, a .300 hitter with intermediate power who played left for the Tribe last year, essentially in exchange for Andy Marte, 23, the former Atlanta Braves "can't miss" rookie acquired by Boston in the Edgar Renteria deal. Cleveland also gave up former closer David Riske and backup backstop Josh Bard, and received from Boston potential closer Guillermo Mota and rookie catcher Kelly Shoppach. Shoppach is hardly a throw-in, having hit 49 HR over the past two years for the BoSox farm team at Pawtucket. Shoppach, 25, won the 2001 Johnny Bench award as the nation's top collegiate catcher when he batted .397 and hit 12 HR in 300 ABs for the Baylo Bears. He had only one error in 406 chances. Shoppach will be given the opportunity to make the Indians opening day roster, as he will compete against journeyman Einar Diaz for the backup catching spot. Shoppach will be eyed as a potential full-time backstop to replace Victor Martinez, whom management would like to move to 1B to protect him from breakdown and extend the potential length of his career.

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