"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
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.