Indians send Rhodes to Phillies; Crisp likely Boston bound

Friday, January 27th 2006, 9:47 pm
By: News On 6

CLEVELAND (AP) _ The Indians traded reliever Arthur Rhodes to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday for outfielder Jason Michaels, a deal expected to trigger a larger swap sending outfielder Coco Crisp to the Boston Red Sox.

Now that the Rhodes-for-Michaels exchange is complete, the Indians will likely ship Crisp to the Red Sox, who have been looking for a center fielder since Johnny Damon signed with the New York Yankees.

Earlier this week, the Red Sox wanted to send third base prospect Andy Marte, catcher Kelly Shoppach and reliever Guillermo Mota to Cleveland for Crisp, reliever David Riske and backup catcher Josh Bard.

However, that deal hit a snag when the Indians got an unfavorable medical report on Mota, a right-hander who spent part of last season on the disabled list with Florida because of elbow inflammation.

Mota's suspect health might have prompted the Red Sox to sweeten their original offer to the Indians by adding another player and cash.

But both trades hinged on Rhodes passing his physical, and now that he has, it appears the clubs can proceed.

In his only season with Cleveland, the 36-year-old Rhodes went 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 47 games. He was a key contributor in the AL's best bullpen for four months in 2005, but missed the last two for family reasons.

Michaels, a right-handed hitter, batted .304 with four homers and 31 RBIs in 105 games for the Phillies. The 29-year-old recently was put on six months' probation and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service following a fight with a Philadelphia police officer last year.

``Jason is a hard-nosed, tough player that complements our lineup extremely well,'' Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said. ``He has always been a tough out while recording a high on-base percentage and has the ability to play all three outfield positions well.''

Crisp has been a sparkplug and fan favorite for Cleveland, hitting .300 with 16 home runs, 69 RBIs and 15 stolen bases last year. If he goes to the Red Sox, the 26-year-old will replace the wildly popular Damon in center field and at the top of the lineup.

Earlier on Friday, Shapiro declined comment on any deals. He did, however, boost Crisp's stock as an up-and-coming player.

``He's just entering his prime right now and he definitely has upside beyond what he has done thus far,'' Shapiro said following lunch at Jacobs Field. ``He can become a better, more effective base stealer. The question and the unknown is always going be how much more power he's got.

``But he's an energy player and he can impact the game on both sides of the ball,'' he said.

The Indians won 93 games last season, narrowly missing the playoffs after going 1-6 in the final week. A potential deal involving Crisp has not been well received by some Indians fans, who are afraid of Shapiro messing with Cleveland's chemistry now that the club is back among the AL's elite.

``We're not looking to be judged along the way,'' Shapiro said. ``We have certainly dealt with criticism, quite a bit of it, an extensive amount of it over the last three years, and we're making decisions that are in the best interest of the fans. We need to be right in the end, not along the way, that's the reality.

``Hopefully, we have some trust with our fan base, that they know we'll make good decisions. But it has been a short period of time, and we have to do more. But I hope that over time our track record will build trust.''

Rhodes gives Philadelphia a dependable setup man for Tom Gordon, who is taking over for Billy Wagner as the club's closer.

``We feel more comfortable tonight than we did last night with Rhodes in the bullpen,'' Phillies GM Pat Gillick said.

And with Rhodes, the Phillies can now move Ryan Madson to the starting rotation.

Madson, 25, had been a setup man the past two seasons. Madson, 6-5 with a 4.14 ERA in 78 games, began the season as the setup man for Billy Wagner, but gave up that role when the Phillies acquired Ugueth Urbina in June.