If he's healthy, Crede should be expected to deliver reasonable power numbers and solid defense while hitting for a poor average and making a ton of outs. A player like that is not without value, but those who are expecting Crede to be a superstar who will single-handedly turn around the team's fortunes are bound to be disappointed. And that's if he's healthy.Crede has lived up to those expectations almost exactly. When he has been on the field, he has played excellent defense and provided some much-needed pop, with 29 extra-base hits in 264 at-bats. He has also posted a paltry .239 average and .299 on-base percentage while missing time sporadically due to various injuries. His back hasn't proven to be a huge problem, but Crede has been far from an iron man. Now, it appears that a potentially serious shoulder injury could put the rest of his season in jeopardy.
Crede is scheduled to see specialist Lewis Yocum in Los Angeles today regarding his aching A/C joint. On Tuesday night, the third baseman reportedly felt extreme pain in his right shoulder -- which he initially injured in Texas over the weekend -- and also experienced numbness in his hand. These are bad signs.
Over the past couple years, Crede has had a tough time staying in the lineup consistently, which was one of the main reasons I was heavily opposed to handing him a sizable guaranteed contract this spring. Ultimately, Bill Smith was able to negotiate Crede's agent Scott Boras down to a one-year deal that included only $2.5 million in guarantees, with $4.5 million in additional salary to be earned through playing time incentives. The contract is now looking exceedingly wise.
Of course, money is not much of a concern for fans right now. The larger concern is that losing Crede for an extended period of time would leave another significant hole in the Twins' lineup. His combination of
If Crede is out, the Twins could seek to replace him with a combination of Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher. That approach seems rather unappealing at this point though; Harris at third means Punto at shortstop, and Buscher's substandard defense will be hard to tolerate with the rest of the team struggling in the field.
It could be that the better bet would be to call up Danny Valencia, who is absolutely mashing the ball in Rochester right now. In 25 games since moving up to Triple-A, Valencia has hit .370/.379/.620 with 10 doubles, five homers and 22 RBI. Pushing him to the majors so aggressively would be uncharacteristic of the Twins, though, and questions linger about his plate discipline and defense. Valencia has clearly established himself as the top candidate to fill third base for the Twins over the next several years, but it's not clear that throwing him directly into the fray amidst a pennant race after playing just a handful of games in Triple-A is the right choice.
Fresh off an absolutely embarrassing series in Oakland, the Twins could find themselves in a very precarious position if Crede's injury turns out to be serious. This team already has enough gaping holes, and adding one more could very well end their chances of contending in this division. The pressure is mounting on the general manager and the front office to right the ship and keep this team from unraveling completely. Let's hope they're up to the challenge.