Thursday, February 12, 2009

Top Five List: Reasons to sign Joe Crede

I'll admit it - I'm a sucker for John Cusack movies. I have been since The Sure Thing which I quoted roughly 876 times during my college years. So I love the idea of breaking down a possible Joe Crede signing with the guys from Championship Vinyl. Take it away Rob:

Rob Gordon: Top five reasons the Twins should absolutely sign Joe Crede, listed in descending order of importance, from least to most:

One. He's a gold glove caliber fielder, something the Twins haven't had since Corey Koskie. Unless you count Nick Punto. And I don't.

Two. Depth. This team is one infield injury - at ANY position - from having Matt Tolbert be a full time starter. Bringing in Crede puts Brendan Harris as the first utility infielder off the bench. Depth counts.

Barry: Very nice, Rob, very nice. BUT you forgot one important thing. Who is the unlucky sap that doesn't make the roster if Crede is signed, huh? Four bench guys - count 'em - Harris, Redmond, fourth outfielder AND ... who's it gonna be Rob? Buscher and Tolbert represent two of Gardy's bench hard-ons - the left-handed bat versus the second middle infielder. Which desire comes out on top?

Rob (frowning): Three. Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher aren't as good as you think they are. Harris hits a little better than a utility infielder and fields worse than one. Buscher hit the snot out of righthanders but it was 174 at-bats, OK? And he's almost 28 years old. Both of these guys are real assets if they come off the bench, but not as everyday players or even as platoon guys. Especially if the lineup is already saddled with Nick Punto and Carlos Gomez.

Barry: Harris should be immediately disqualified just for how he spells his first name. "Brandon" needs to have a masculine "O" in it somewhere. This derivative of "Brenda" crap sucks @$$.

Dick: I like Harris. He reminds me of Marlon Anderson, except with his career kind of derailed, Warren Morris style. Except white.

Rob and Barry: (Blink. Blink.)

Rob: Four. Screw the money. The money doesn't mean a thing in this case. Twins fans have been brainwashed into thinking that every contract needs to be fiscally responsible. It doesn't. The Diamondbacks won a World Series while being riduculed for paying $10 million a year to a washed up Matt Williams. The Twins know damn well there is no such thing as a bad one year contract, especially when you're $20 million in the black. So don't tell me we should be passing on an opportunity to make the team better just because we want to guarantee $3 million instead of $5 million.

Barry: Yeah, and if the fascist bean counters don't like it, screw them! Let 'em riot! We don't care! We're Sonic Death Monkey!

Rob (Rubs temples. Looks up. Gathers self. Stares into camera): And five - the most important reason. Joe Crede basically is Michael Cuddyer. Both are right-handed with power. They'll both be 30 on Opening Day. Both struggle with batting average. Both were hurt most of last year. Both haven't really met expectations except for huge years in 2006.

So if the Twins had a chance to sign Michael Cuddyer for an affordable one year deal, except that they knew he would play third base at close to a gold glove level, they wouldn't do it? Of course they would. It's a no-brainer.

Barry: BZZZZZZ! Oh, I'm sorry, thanks for playing Rob. But the correct answer was "Ty Wigginton." Yes, yes, Wigginton, though the judges would've accepted any derivation of "Wiggy". Wiggy, you see, slugs left-handers at a .500-plus clip over the last three years. The perfect compliment for Buscher.

Rob: True?

Barry: Ask him.

Dick: .568

Barry: Wiggington, Rob. Wigginton! Yeah! Now let's get outta here. Later losers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What about Joe Crede?

I know, I know, I should be writing about Joe Crede, but one thing is stopping me: I lack the appropriate literary device. There are about 12 different aspects to cover with a possible Crede signing, some positive and some negative, and I’m stalling on how to cover them all. Thumbs up/thumbs down? What’s hot/what’s not? I suppose I could rip off Simmons and break it down Dr. Jack style, but it seems like there is a much more obvious literary device. Like from a movie or show? It feels like it is just staring me in the face. It’s driving me crazy.

So, if you’ve got any ideas, feel free to include them in the comments below. I’ve been putting it off for two weeks – two days more shouldn’t kill me. In the meantime, I'm working on a long promised breakdown of the Twins revenue streams for the first issue of GameDay this year. We may get a portion of that up on the blog later this week.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Transaction Notes: Luis Ayala

Minnesota Twins agreed to terms with RHP Luis Ayala on a one-year, $1.3M contract.

Slow offseason? Slow offseason?!? Well, OK, sure, pitchers and catchers report in a week and we just got our first new Twin. But in my book that deserves at least a full length 750 word story. So let's see how many ways can we spin the signing of the 20th guy on the roster.

I haven't seen much of the coverage of this signing, but I suspect the capsule version is something like "He had a 5.71 ERA last year but he's better than that." And in dozen words or less, that's about right, but we've got 738 more words than that, so we might as well use them.

The signing will please contrarians immensely, because that 2008 ERA is such a deliciously large target, and the truth is that he wasn't better than that. He was exactly that. What's disconcerting (or comforting, depending on your point of view) is that we don't know why. His strikeout rate didn't change much. He walked more batters than he used to, but still not so many that you would expect disasterous consequences. He didn't give up many more home runs. And yet his ERA jumped almost three full points.

What we do know is that he's not the eighth inning replacement that we hoped the Twins were going to sign this offseason. He should be a useful reliever like Jesse Crain or Matt Guerrier. He should be a solid one inning guy most of the time. But he isn't going to drown the opposing bench in a wave of despair an inning early.

Interestingly, he hasn't been particularly dominant against one hand or the other. His stats against both right-handed and left-handed batters are almost identical. Given the depth the Twins already have on both sides of the mound, it might be better if he was dominant against right-handed hitters, even if it meant he was susceptible to the other side.

More serious roster watchers might worry about the impact of this signing on some of the fringe players on the roster. The Twins are going to break camp with seven guys in the bullpen, and those seven spots were spoken for before this signing:
- The closer, Joe Nathan
- The right-handed veterans - Crain and Guerrier
- The lefties - Jose Mijares and Craig Breslow
- The long relief guys - Boof Bonser and Philip Humber

So, pop quiz, hot shot: What happens now that Ayala is guaranteed a spot in the bullpen? (And make no mistake, he is.)

A: Somebody gets hurt.

And I mean legitimately hurt, like when Scott Baker began last season in Rochester. This signing provides a much needed insurance policy, not just for the bullpen, but for the rotation too. If a member of the starting five is hurt, Bonser slides into that role and then there's room in the bullpen.

There is at least one side benefit, too. The only guy in that bullpen who still has options left is Jose Mijares. Given the disturbing stories coming out of his winter league assignment, it might not be a bad thing for him to be looking over his shoulder.

Plus, this puts to bed the speculation about signing Eric Gagne, a client of Scott Boras. That's significant because Joe Crede is also Boras' client. Does blowing off Gagne make is less likely that the Twins sign Crede, or does it reaffirm to Boras that his leverage in these matters is less than he thinks?

And finally, it's worth noting that the signing isn't official yet, and there's more than just the usual pending physical housekeeping to take care of. Who is going to get dumped from the 40 man roster? Seth of claims it can't be any of the guys who were added this fall, which is a rule I didn't know. If that's the case, I would not want to be in Bobby Korecky's shoes tonight.

That brings us to 663 words, and it's going to have to do, as The Voice of Reason is less likely to view another 87 words as the moral imperative that I do. Don't take it personally Luis. You're still the biggest free agency signing of the offseason for the Twins. And as your agent has no doubt explained to you, it's a slow offseason.