Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Great Expectations

After reading through a story on Joe Crede on the Star Tribune's online edition yesterday, I glanced at the reader comments section below the article and came across this statement:
i would take crede at 75% over anybody else on the team.

Oh boy. On a team that features legitimate stars like Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan, that's pretty ridiculous. Now, I bring up this comment not just to point out one loony anonymous opinion out there on the Web, but rather to point out what seems to be a common misperception among Twins fans. While the comment quoted above may be rather extreme, I've definitely picked up on a theme of misguided exuberance regarding this acquisition. I think this is largely the result of exasperation that has built up within the fan base over a long winter of overactivity, and also a tendency for fans to focus on Crede's perceived upside (like what he did to the Twins last year, and what he did overall in 2006) while overlooking his considerable flaws.

Now, contrary to popular belief, I don't hate Crede. And I certainly don't hate this move. I see the Twins' signing of Crede to a one-year deal for $2.5 million guaranteed, with $4.5 million in incentives based on plate appearances, as one that potentially carries very little downside for the Twins and gives them a reasonably good chance of getting improved play out of the third base position this season. My main concern when it came to signing Crede was that the Twins would hand him a large guaranteed contract, and then feel obligated to trotting him out there repeatedly even if he were ineffective in order to get their money's worth. Let's face it, stubborn loyalty to veteran players has been a Ron Gardenhire trademark in the past. Yet, the beauty of a contract in which well over half the money is tied up in playing time incentives is that not only are the Twins free of a large monetary commitment that would tie them to Crede, they actually have legitimate incentive not to continue trotting him out there if he's ineffective. That $3-4 million Crede can earn by working his way toward 525 plate appearances may not mean much to you and I, but I'd bet it matters to the Twins' front office and ownership. Let's not forget that this organization willingly took a big PR hit in 2007 by trading Luis Castillo for marginal prospects at midseason solely to get a couple million off the books.

Crede's negatives have been discussed exhaustively in this space: he's a major injury risk, he generally has not been a great hitter over the course of his career, his power numbers have been propped up by a hitter-friendly ballpark, etc. Moreover, it seems that members of the team have a rather skewed view of Crede's ability. For instance, says Michael Cuddyer: "Crede has killed us over the past couple years." Says Gardenhire: "He can put the ball in the seats as he’s done plenty of times against us. Those guys kind of make good impressions on you when they keep hitting balls in the seats against you." This whole "he's been good against us so he must be great" mentality is one I remember picking up on after last year's acquisition of Craig Monroe. It's worth noting, though, that while Crede has generally clobbered the Twins when the two teams have faced off in Chicago, he has posted just a .219/.242/.355 line over 49 career games in the Metrodome.

Now, none of that dooms Crede, and there's no denying that -- if healthy -- he can be a solid player. It is important to keep in mind that that is a big IF, and that there is a sizable difference between "solid" and "great." Crede is coming off two back surgeries and has missed 180 games over the past two seasons, and by his own admission he's still not quite 100 percent (that story seems to have changed since he was a free agent looking to get signed, oddly enough). Crede's biggest strength is his defense, and if his back continues to give him problems and limits his flexibility, his fielding could conceivably take a hit. It's encouraging, though, that he still rated quite well defensively last year with the White Sox in spite of the fact that he was probably playing through some back problems.

Still, I must stress that Crede's upside is not as high as many seem to believe, and his likelihood of reaching that upside isn't particularly great. Fans who are expecting Crede to repeat his 2006 performance this year are begging to be disappointed, because that season was as much of an outlier as Cuddyer's 2006 season. If he's healthy enough to stay on the field, Crede should be able to provide strong defense from the hot corner while popping a few big home runs, but he is also likely to make a lot of outs.

Crede has a lot invested in this season. Not only will he need to stay on the field to activate the incentives in his contract, he's also out to prove to teams around the league that he's healthy so that he can seek a larger contract next winter. These circumstances may play for or against the Twins. That motivation may push Crede to work extra hard and put up big numbers while going out of his way to avoid injury. It might also push him to play through injuries while posting poor numbers as he did in 2007. One of the best things about the Crede signing is that the Twins still have a solid backup option in place between Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris, but that benefit only works if Gardenhire is willing to fall back on it when the time is right.

This offseason has been a dreadfully slow one for the Twins, and many Twins fans -- including myself -- have grown exasperated with Bill Smith for missing the boat on some great opportunities. Yet, the GM deserves a lot of credit for his handling of the Crede situation. Rather than give in to absurd initial demands, Smith gauged the limited market for Crede and played the waiting game until finally the third baseman's demands came down to a reasonable level. If Crede truly believes he is going to be fully healthy and productive all year, he can now prove it on the field and earn his money. If he's not, the team has the ability to fall back on the Harris/Buscher option while only losing a couple million dollars. Whether they take advantage of that opportunity will fall on the manager.

20 comments:

John said...

If Crede is healthy, he's better than Buscher & Harris. If he's not, Gardy won't have any choice but to fall back on the platoon option. Whatever Smith might tell the press, he is still Gardy's boss and BS would never allow Crede to make millions in incentive money if he's playing like crap.

So I don't see the downside. Either Crede is an upgrade or he's benched/released. The incentive structure serves to minimize both the risk of injury or the risk of underperformance.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that commenter meant that he would take Crede at 75% over anybody else on the team to play 3rd base.

PWHjort said...

He could certainly stand to draw a few more walks. That's my only complaint with him.

Anonymous said...

A healthy Crede is the best 3B we've had since Gaetti. And if he gets injured, we have two able backups.

A healthy Crede has the potential to do for our lineup what Chili Davis did in '91, which is more than we can say for any free agent the Twins have signed since then.

So contrary to your reservations, this is a very big move, very big deal, which an Orlando Hudson (how many players do we need who bat
.290 with 10 homers?) acquisition would not have been.

Nibbish said...

I think that saying that Crede has the potential to do what Chili did for us in '91 VASTLY underestimates what Chili did for us in '91. I think expectign Crede to have anything resembling the impact of a 141 OPS+ season is exactly the type of overreaching unrealistic expectation that Nick is refering to in this very entry.

I must say I'm somewhat pleased with the signing, if only because so little is actually tied into it, and as mentioned before, it's not just another "well, we've paid him the money, now he HAS to play" scenario we've seen too many times in the past couple years. He represents a modest upgrade when we didn't think we were going to be getting any modest upgrades. Here's hoping he works out for the best.

Nick N. said...

A healthy Crede is the best 3B we've had since Gaetti. And if he gets injured, we have two able backups.

A healthy Crede has the potential to do for our lineup what Chili Davis did in '91, which is more than we can say for any free agent the Twins have signed since then.

So contrary to your reservations, this is a very big move, very big deal, which an Orlando Hudson (how many players do we need who bat
.290 with 10 homers?) acquisition would not have been.


This is the kind of thing I'm talking about. All three of these statements are just gigantic hyperboles.

First of all, it's extremely unlikely that Crede will be a more valuable player than Koskie was when he was here, so the assertion that if healthy "Crede is the best 3B we've had since Gaetti" is pretty dubious.

Second, Chili Davis was a great hitter with the Twins. Crede will be lucky to be an above-average hitter. While Crede does have the history of (once) posting similar power numbers to Davis' .507 SLG and 29 HR from '91, Davis also posted a .386 OBP that season which was a large part of the reason he was such a great hitter. Crede's career high for OBP is .323 and his career avg is .306. I think people are really underestimating what a liability a .300 OBP is. Crede is likely to be making outs about 70 percent of the time; Davis made outs 62 percent of the time in 1991. That adds up to a LOT more outs and really diminishes the value of those homers.

This signing is only a "very big move, a very big deal" if you truly believe that 2006 was the true Joe Crede and he's likely to repeat that if he's healthy. There's no reason to believe that is the case. Crede's 2006 season looks like nothing more than an outlier when compared to the rest of his year, and it happened three years ago, two back surgeries ago, and in a much more pitcher-friendly stadium.

A "big move" is when a player is acquired that upgrades your team significantly. Hudson would have very likely provided a significant upgrade over Casilla. Crede is not terribly likely to be healthy, and even if he is, his upgrade over a Harris/Buscher platoon will probably be (as Nibbish said) a modest one.

Anonymous said...

This is the kind of thing I'm talking about. All three of these statements are just gigantic hyperboles.

As is your taking the "75%" comment about Crede, which was clearly meant to mean over any other third base option on the Twins roster.

And for what it's worth, not everyone agrees there are 'solid' backup options to Crede.

Nick N. said...

As is your taking the "75%" comment about Crede, which was clearly meant to mean over any other third base option on the Twins roster.

I didn't see how that was clear considering the phrase actually said "over anybody else on the team." And I included that quote for comic effect more than anything; I don't think that's how the majority of fans view the situation. I'm simply making a point that there are a number of people out there who are blowing this signing out of proportion, and the fact that it's been compared to Chili Davis in this very comment section illustrates that very fact.

And for what it's worth, not everyone agrees there are 'solid' backup options to Crede.

I'm aware of that, but if we look at this from an objective point of view (setting aside this bizarre bias against Buscher that everyone seems to have), there is nothing to suggest that a Harris/Buscher platoon would not be capable of providing serviceable production at third base and there's also nothing to suggest Crede is capable of posting 2006-type numbers (or anything close, really) this year in the Metrodome.

Anonymous said...

Nibbish,

I do not underestimate what Chili Davis did for us in 1991. We don't win the division that year without him. Crede, if healthy, is capable of 29 HR and 91 RBI. Had we had that kind of production last year at 3B we would have won the division by several games.

Nick,

There is not a shred of hyperbole in any of my comments. If healthy, Crede can be expected to put up Cuddyer-type numbers: 20-25 HR, 90 RBI. Koskie did not provide that production other than that one year when (if memory serves) he hit 26-104-280 or thereabouts. Please, make a case for how much better Koskie was/is than Crede, and how my claim that Crede is a superior 3B to Koskie in his prime is so outrageous as to called "dubious."

Show me one free agent we have signed since Davis who we could reasonably project to offer 20 HR, 90 RBI. Winfield, perhaps, but we had no illusions of contending when we signed him; it was a bit of a sentimental move for a hometowner at the end of his career.

Point out to me the hyperbole in my Hudson projections of .290 and 10, and then show me how that is a vast upgrade over Casilla.

I am all about spirited debate, and agreeing to disagree. You have your opinion that a Hudson signing would have helped. I happen to agree that he is worth more than Punto, and that if we could plug in Hudson or Casilla at SS, a 2B/SS tandem of Hudson-Casilla, with Punto backing up, would look a lot better than Casilla-Punto and M Macri. But which player (if it is even an either/or) do I think has the potential to greatly improve our lineup, Hudson or Crede? That is a no-brainer.

The Twins have been knocking on the door for 9 years running, and their achilles heel year in, year out is that they are always one power-hitter short (compounded of course last year by late-season
8th inning bullpen meltdowns).

Crede is the first legitimate power hitter we have signed since the Twins revival of 2001.

Do I think Crede will be healthy all year? I have no idea. The last two years do not inspire a whole lot. It may be reasonable to project 100 games from him, 15 HR, 60 RBI. But as you take such pains to closely read every line of these responses, you would know that I caveated my Crede endorsement twice with "if healthy," and that "if healthy" 20-25 and 90 will look pretty darn close to C Davis circa '91.

As your blog is intended for discussion, debate, and banter among informed Twins fans, perhaps you should refrain from emotive declarations of "dubious hyperbole," and respond with the same care, dignity, and respect you put into the maintenance of your blog site.

Or to put it bluntly, I disagree with you that Hudson would have been a better move than Crede. But I respect that you have an informed opinion. Perhaps you should do the same.

Thomas said...

Ok, you are in over your head. Calling Crede better than Koskie is just plain idiotic. Both excellent defenders, but Koskie clearly the better hitter. Since I assume you don't know what OBP or OPS are, try looking at Runs and RBI. As excited as you are about Crede, he's never had a 100 RBI or Run season. Koskie had both. 20 HR seasons? Crede has him 3 to 2.

Another free agent who was three seasons away from a 20 HR 90ish RBI season, like Crede, that the Twins signed? How about Rondell White?

Nick N. said...

First, let me apologize if you feel I've been disrespectful. Certainly I appreciate your input and I'm happy to engage you on these topics. I don't mean to belittle you, I'm just having hard time understanding how you can draw up these "expectations." Now, to address your points...

There is not a shred of hyperbole in any of my comments. If healthy, Crede can be expected to put up Cuddyer-type numbers: 20-25 HR, 90 RBI. Koskie did not provide that production other than that one year when (if memory serves) he hit 26-104-280 or thereabouts. Please, make a case for how much better Koskie was/is than Crede, and how my claim that Crede is a superior 3B to Koskie in his prime is so outrageous as to called "dubious."

No, Crede cannot be "expected" to hit 20-25 home runs with 90 RBI if he's healthy, nor can Cuddyer be "expected" to do so if healthy. It's simply ridiculous to expect players to repeat their career-best performances simply because they're healthy while ignoring a lengthy career's worth of other data. That's particularly true for Crede considering his circumstances, which I have gone over repeatedly. Once in his 7+ year career has Crede posted a batting average over .261, a slugging percentage over .454, hit more than 22 homers or driven in more than 75 runs while playing 100 games. And that's while playing in a very hitter-friendly park. You can't project him to perform a certain way because it's what he did in a career year that stands as an outlier compared to the rest of his body of work.

Crede should be "expected" to hit around .257/.306/.447, because that's his career line, and even that might be generous considering the back surgeries and that downgrade in park support.

Corey Koskie is a .275/.367/.454 career hitter. He was regularly able to hit for the same type of power as Crede while also hitting for a respectable average and very good OBP. He was a significantly better hitter. You can't compare hitters by who had the better career year otherwise Brady Anderson trumps Justin Morneau.

Show me one free agent we have signed since Davis who we could reasonably project to offer 20 HR, 90 RBI.

Rondell White? Tony Batista? Butch Huskey? By your criteria it was perfectly reasonable to project any of those guys for those type of numbers.

Point out to me the hyperbole in my Hudson projections of .290 and 10, and then show me how that is a vast upgrade over Casilla.

Well I consider him a vast upgrade over Casilla because I look at more metrics than batting average and home runs. Hudson is a proven big-league hitter who's averaged around a .300 average, .365 OBP and .450 slugging percentage over the past three seasons (granted, in a hitter-friendly ballpark). He's generally been good for 10-15 homers and 30 doubles or so, which might drop a bit in the Dome but would remain good power production for a second baseman. Casilla has managed a .336 slugging percentage in his entire major-league career and slugged just .367 in the minors -- he has essentially no power. He also hasn't proven a consistent ability to get on base in the majors (.310 OBP). The upgrade there is substantial. A healthy Crede probably offers more power than Harris/Buscher and is better defensively, but is like to post a batting average and on-base percentage around 40 points lower than that platoon.

I am all about spirited debate, and agreeing to disagree. You have your opinion that a Hudson signing would have helped. I happen to agree that he is worth more than Punto, and that if we could plug in Hudson or Casilla at SS, a 2B/SS tandem of Hudson-Casilla, with Punto backing up, would look a lot better than Casilla-Punto and M Macri. But which player (if it is even an either/or) do I think has the potential to greatly improve our lineup, Hudson or Crede? That is a no-brainer.

Casilla is almost certainly an inferior fielder to Punto, and I don't think there's much evidence that he is a better hitter.

Or to put it bluntly, I disagree with you that Hudson would have been a better move than Crede. But I respect that you have an informed opinion. Perhaps you should do the same.

The problem is that the numbers you're laying out are wishful thinking, not reasonable expectations. You can cross your fingers and hope that Crede repeats his career highs this year, and I'll probably cross my fingers for that too, but if I'm trying to provide reasoned analysis for people I have to base my opinion on what is actually likely to happen.

thrillho said...

Why can't we look at what Crede did last year? He was battling the recurring back injury yet OPS+ed at 98. None of us have any idea whether his back surgery was a success which will leave him pain free for the rest of his life or be recurring. So you saying it's unlikely he'll be healthy is a load of shit. Anyone else saying it's likely he'll be healthy all year is full of shit.
But if he was hurt last year and was basically league average (with excellent defense, making him above average) I'll say he's a SIGNIFICANT upgrade over your BFF's Buscher and Harris.

And stop reading Gleeman, he's rubbing off on you and that sucks. You used to be my favorite Twins mind in the blogosphere.

Nick N. said...

Why can't we look at what Crede did last year? He was battling the recurring back injury yet OPS+ed at 98.

An OPS+ of 98 puts him slightly below average as a hitter. He's a great defender, but not at a premium position, so I'd say that all things considered, if he hits like he did last year he's a moderately above average player. That makes him better than a Buscher/Harris platoon (who are apparently my BFFs because I think they'd be serviceable), but not the "SIGNIFICANT upgrade" that you make it out to be. At least not in my opinion.

None of us have any idea whether his back surgery was a success which will leave him pain free for the rest of his life or be recurring. So you saying it's unlikely he'll be healthy is a load of shit. Anyone else saying it's likely he'll be healthy all year is full of shit.

Back injuries tend to be recurring problems, and Crede's already has been. With that being the case, I tend to err on the side of caution. Not that 31 is old, per se, but the body tends to heal slower with each passing year...

In any case, I've never said with any certainty that Crede will get hurt this year, but the facts that he went unsigned until mid-February despite wanting only a one-year deal, and drew seemingly very little interest after publicly working out for teams, and is claiming to be "pretty close" to 100 percent after claiming to be fully healthy when trying to get a contract, are not good signs to me. I think people tend to overlook the "if healthy" caveat a little too much in projecting his value.

And stop reading Gleeman, he's rubbing off on you and that sucks. You used to be my favorite Twins mind in the blogosphere.

I've read Gleeman since long before I started this blog, and I formulated my opinion on Crede before I had any idea how AG felt about the topic, so I'm not sure what exactly you're referring to...

Nick N. said...

To clarify something, I do not love Brian Buscher nor Brendan Harris as players. I think both would be stretched hugely as full-time players. But it's a fact that Buscher has historically been effective against RHP and Harris has historically been effective against LHP, and both are prime-aged and healthy, so I have no reason to believe they couldn't platoon and provide at least adequate offensive production at third base, albeit with sub par defense.

I don't think I'm really going out on a branch here, am I? I've never been in love with the idea of a Harris/Buscher platoon and I advocated several options to upgrade that position this offseason (Blake/DeRosa/Beltre). I just felt that, considering his many risks and downsides, Crede's upgrade potential was not worth a large guarantee. For $2.5M guaranteed, I like the signing, and that's pretty much what I said in the post.

Anonymous said...

Thomas,

I'll let you know when I'm in over my head. I'll do some research into those peculiar stats that you refer - foreign terms such as runs and RBI, and try to find out what OBP (other batter's projections?) and OBS (opposing bench's stats?) could possibly mean. I'll see if I can figure out how to calculate those elusive ERAs as well. Isn't higher better? Please enlighten me. I assume that Koskie's perennial 15-70-285 seasons [which one again is RBI?] swayed you beyond all repair ... I'll take my shot at Crede over a healthy Koskie any day ... Crede put up 80%of those numbers (more or less) by last year's All-Star break.


Nick,

Thank you for the response. I appreciate your site. If Joe Crede puts up numbers that even begin to approximate Tony Batista, or Alex Cole, or Rondell White, or Otis Nixon, or Butch Huskey (that one was funny, BTW. I had forgot about that trainwreck), I'll send you a case of whatever beer you drink.

WWCD said...

Wow, busy day here yesterday. I was busy as well and missed my chance to leave a comment. So here I am a day late (and yes since I'm unemployed right now more than a dollar short).

The key thing about this signing is that the Front Office did something as opposed to just making noinse about possible moves. I'm hoping that means they feel they have a chance to compete this year.

The weird thing about this signing is that Crede's market value was driven up when Adrian Beltre put the Twins on his no-trade list. Weird because they both have the same agent. I wonder is Beltre feels a bit used? Or does he feel its better to play with Jr. instead of on a contender?

Anonymous said...

I don't know what Thrillo is talking about. Gleeman is a popular blogger, so that shouldn't be a total insult. He offers solid analysis, but the only annoying thing is he can come across as arrogant and (probably inadvertantly) tries to make himself part of the story. I don't mean he talks about his life, I mean he tries to make what he said in the past relavent to his analysis. What he thought about a deal last year has nothing to do with it's validity today. In general, try to avoid the phrase "as I said (measure of time) ago in this space".

Nick N. said...

In general, try to avoid the phrase "as I said (measure of time) ago in this space".

I think a lot of the time this is to point out how predictable something was at a given time, not so much to gloat about being right. For instance, if after Livan Hernandez gets released I quote a post I made when he was signed that said, "Hernandez has been trending downward for years and probably won't last the whole year in the rotation" (I'm just flying from the hip here, I don't think I actually said that), it's more to point out that it was pretty easy for even a speculating fan to see it coming.

Anonymous said...

酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店經紀,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店工作,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,

,

Anonymous said...

酒店經紀,
酒店工作,
酒店上班,
酒店打工,
禮服酒店,
禮服公關,
酒店領檯,
華麗幻想,
夢世界,
酒店經紀,
酒店工作,
酒店上班,
酒店打工,
禮服酒店,
禮服公關,
酒店領檯,
華麗幻想,
夢世界,
酒店經紀,
酒店工作,
酒店上班,
酒店打工,
禮服酒店,
禮服公關,
酒店領檯,
華麗幻想,
夢世界,