Thursday, January 29, 2009

Joe Crede: Not a Solution

"We are being buried beneath the avalanche of your inadequacies, Mr. Creedy!"

In the 2005 film V For Vendetta, the above line was screamed angrily by the corrupt Chancellor Sutler at his subordinate Peter Creedy, the head of Britain's secret police force. Though it is spelled different, Mr. Creedy's surname is pronounced the same as that of Joe Crede, which made it a favorite line to yell at my TV any time the Twins would face the White Sox over the past couple seasons.

Crede is now a free agent, and the Twins have reportedly been had a few talks with his agent, Scott Boras. This has led to much speculation from fans who like his solid glove at the hot corner and his potential to bring some power from the right side of the plate. I've been intentionally shying away from the subject because I don't think my opinion will be a very popular one, but readers have commented on this blog for two consecutive days about how nice Crede would be as an acquisition so I feel compelled to put my two cents out there.

Joe Crede is not the answer.

Many people glance at Crede's 2006 hitting line (.283/.323/.506, 30 HR, 94 RBI, very good defense) and immediately salivate over the idea of him joining the Twins on a one-year deal. However, '06 was the only good, full season that Crede has put together in the past six years, and a look at his career hitting line paints a more sobering picture:

Joe Crede, career: .257/.306/.447

For comparison...

Tony Batista, career: .251/.291/.453

When the Twins signed Batista, he was 32 and fresh off spending a year playing in Japan. Crede will turn 31 in April, and he was stateside last season, he hasn't been playing much over the past two years, having been limited to 144 total games due to chronic back problems. Over that span, he has hit .237/.296/.412 with 21 homers and 77 RBI in 502 at-bats. Like Batista, Crede has the potential to hit some home runs from the right side. But like Batista, he's likely to do so while reaching base at a very poor rate.

Now, a healthy Crede is a vastly superior defender to Batista, which instantly makes him a far more valuable player. The problem is that "a healthy Crede" is not one that any team is likely to get this year, particularly not a team that plays on artificial turf. Crede's back problems hav been a major issue over the past two years and, knowing how back injuries can linger and haunt players, I'm rather skeptical of Crede's ability to remain healthy and fully productive throughout the 2009 season. Even if he's able to stay on the field for the majority of the year, there's a pretty good chance Crede's back will remain an impediment that saps his power and negatively affects his defensive prowess.

Now, there's little risk in handing Crede an inexpensive one-year deal and bringing him to camp to compete for a third base job, with the promise that he'll win the spot if he proves healthy and more capable than the alternatives. However, as we've seen with Batista, Adam Everett, Sidney Ponson, Ramon Ortiz, Livan Hernandez and numerous others, that's not how this organization goes about it's business. Even on one-year deals, when the Twins give a contract to a veteran player it almost always comes with the implicit guarantee of a starting job and a pretty long leash to go along with it. That is potentially very bad news for Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher, who should be able to form an effective platoon at third and who have earned a shot as long as the Twins can't find a legitimate upgrade externally.

A fully healthy and peak-performing Crede could do some things to help the Twins, but unfortunately the likelihood of that player emerging this year is extremely low. When I envision Crede playing for the 2009 Twins, I envision him struggling to hit for average or get on base, and showing less power in the pitcher-friendly Metrodome than people are hoping for based on his track record. I envision injuries negatively affecting his offensive and defensive performance when he's in the lineup, and causing him to be in and out of the lineup for much of the year, making third base an unstable and erratic position yet again. I envision him soaking up more money than he deserves and forcing the Twins to buy out the 2010 option on his contract that would almost surely be included by Boras.

The Twins have money to burn and bringing in Crede certainly wouldn't be the end of the world, but his upside isn't all that high and the chances of him reaching it are quite low. In the end, he is bogged down by too many inadequacies for me to get excited about the prospect of him as the Twins' 2009 third baseman.

13 comments:

Cdub said...

I seriously don't understand why we don't move Cuddyer back to the hot corner. So what if he isn't an amazing defender? He's sufficient, he can play the position, and we can keep our speed in the outfield with Young, Gomez, Span. I wouldn've thought the twins would have done more to get a SS instead of resigning Nick Punto. The guy was batting .201 a couple years ago, he shouldn't even be in the majors. The reason Nick Punto claims he "wanted" to come back to the Twins was really because no other team in their right mind would pay that man money to play baseball.

Cuddy to third, Young in left, Gomez Center, Span right. End of discussion.

Now go get some bullpen help since Neshek won't be back.

Anonymous said...

when the Twins give a contract to a veteran player it almost always comes with the implicit guarantee of a starting job

Mediocre veteran signings that come to mind are Ruben Sierra, Jeff Cirillo, Craig Monroe... they weren't guaranteed (or even given) everyday jobs. Rondell was given a starting job, but it was reasonable to expect more out of him the first time around, and he showed enough to raise expectations for him during the second half of 2006 to give him a chance in 2007. Castro was a backup before "winning" the job in spring training.

Mike Crow said...

Well, if Crede could stay healthy I think he could be an upgrade over what the Twins currently have at 3B. However, I think back problems tend to problematic in baseball, swinging a bat isn't a good way of keeping a questionable back healthy. If they can get him cheap, he's worth the risk, IMO.

Moving Cuddy to 3B isn't a great idea either. If I'm not mistaken, in addition to not fielding the position that well he also didn't hit well while at 3b either. Making a player paly a position he does not want to play isn't the ideal situation.

J. Lichty said...

I think a lot of the Twins fans desire for Crede is that he has had greater success against the Twins than against other competition. (At least that is my anecdotal take on it - he always seems to kill the Twins). Along those lines maybe KC fans thought they should sign Luis Rivas.

I just do not see him as a worthwhile upgrade to Buscher/Harris. I would not be disappointed if they signed him for a 1 year deal with a team option and with incentives for around 2 million, but they should not be chasing him down.

barstball said...

We are being buried beneath the avalanche of your inadequacies, Mr. Creedy...a favorite line to yell at my TV any time the Twins would face the White Sox over the past couple seasons.

When Crede was torching the shit out of our pitching, how were we being buried by his inadequacies? This doesn't make sense.

CA said...

Nick showed Crede's career line already, but here it is again, along with some platoon stats for comparison.

Crede, career: .257/.306/.447

Harris, career vs. LHP: .295/.360/.440
Buscher, career vs. RHP: .297/.354/.411

If the Twins are going to go get a third baseman, they should sign him because they think he'll put up equal or better numbers than the Harris/Buscher platoon against the rest of the league, not because of anecdotes about what he did to their own pitchers.

I could not agree more with this post.

Nick N. said...

When Crede was torching the shit out of our pitching, how were we being buried by his inadequacies? This doesn't make sense.

It was just something fun to yell at a player from a team I dislike. I didn't mean to imply that made sense.

Mediocre veteran signings that come to mind are Ruben Sierra, Jeff Cirillo, Craig Monroe... they weren't guaranteed (or even given) everyday jobs.

Those players were not starters before coming to the Twins and were clearly brought in as bench guys. Crede would expect to come in as a starter, and my point was that I don't trust the Twins to hold an open competition and put him on the bench if he proves less capable than Harris or Buscher.

Marv said...

1. Cuddyer played 3B in the minors. Based strictly on fielding percentages he was never very good at it. He's not going to play 3B for reasons we may never know, but I'm guessing it has a lot to do with Gardy's opinion that Cuddy is a RF.
2. Crede would be a mistake. Wigginton would be cheaper and he is more likely to produce, even if they are both healthy. (I am a recently converted Wiggy fan, after looking at some stats)
3. For Crede to sign with the Twins while recovering from a back injury to play on turf would suggest that Crede is an idiot.

WWCD said...

It doesn’t make any sense to make any moves prior to the opening of the season. Look back to when Bill Smith took over as GM. I saw many comments on blogs (can’t remember if this one was included or not) that he would build his team and position us to win the World Series in our first year in the new stadium, 2010.

If that’s the goal what makes sense for 2009 is to sit tight with our young players and see what we’ve actually got. Who will keep performing and who will hit the wall. Moves we make should be based on opportunities in our favor. If we’re in the hunt later in the season make an acquisition then. If not use our surplus outfield situation to make a pick up.

Our number one priority should be to sign Mauer to a long-term deal. After that sometime during the season Valencia needs to get a shot so we can see if he’s a part of the 2010 drive.

lookatthosetwins said...

It was just something fun to yell at a player from a team I dislike. I didn't mean to imply that made sense.

I've had to make statements such as the one above so many times to people, but they will never understand.
Also, I have to say, I've probably been more prone to accept the idea of Crede as our 3b just because i like V for Vendetta so much.

Crede really is a funny player because people think he would come in and provide an impact bat. This is definately not the case. I think a fair comparison would be the equivalent of Adam Everett at 3b. And that's not necessarily as bad as it sounds.

Over the last 3 years (yes, his injury plagued last 3 years), he's been worth about 25 runs above average in about 290 games in the field. Those are Beltreish numbers in the field, while playing through his back problems.

The back problems seemed to affect his bat more than his glove, though, and he somehow managed to make a significant negative impact (negative 12 runs!) in just 47 games in '07, after being a masher in a full season in '06.

Overall, he seems to be about a league average hitter. Weighting his more recent stats more heavily (even the awful '07) makes him a little bit better than his career line. Still, probably about even, or maybe a little worse with the bat than Buscher/Harris. But I don't think people realize how huge his glove is when healthy. His glove makes him more valuable than Wigginton (awful defender), Blake (bad defender), or Atkins (Dare I say Tony Batistaish defender?) if he could manage to stay healthy for most of a season. That's a huge if, but for a reasonable contract, it could be worth the risk.

I am not advocating signing the guy for 5 mil plus incentives. Thats nuts. But I was a big fan of the Everett signing when it happened, and I think he might be a steal for the tigers this year. Or he might be a bust. Either way, when you have extra payroll laying around it might not be a bad idea to take a chance on a guy like Crede. As long as you keep the leash a little shorter than Mike Lamb's.

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