Tuesday, February 02, 2010

From the Handbook: Joe Crede

In last night's Seth Speaks podcast, I was asked if I thought Joe Crede might return to the Twins. By way of an answer, I'm pulling this piece I wrote for the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook, addressed to the Twins General Manager. I hope you like it.


Call it the Luis Rivas syndrome.

For years, the Twins and Twins fans lamented the lack of development of Rivas, who started at second base for the Twins for five years, posting a career OPS of 681. Yet despite the perennial disappointment, he always returned for a simple reason: he never became good enough to get expensive.

I wonder if we might need to rename the syndrome this offseason.

Prior to the All-Star break, if anyone would’ve told me that this organization would have any chance to re-sign Joe Crede, I would’ve politely questioned their sanity. Crede had performed too well with 14 home runs and Gold Glove defense. He was positioned to draw a multi-year deal from someone, and the Twins weren’t going to make a multi-year commitment when they had prospect third baseman Danny Valencia working his way through the minors.

Three dismal months later, Crede suddenly makes more sense, because he never became good enough to get expensive. He spent a good chunk of the last three months injured (only 81 at-bats) so it seems unlikely he’ll earn a multi-year deal. (That dismal showing also means he won’t be ranked highly by Elias, eliminating the need to offer him arbitration.)

On the Twins side, there is still a need. Valencia wasn’t called up in September, so it’s unlikely everyone in the organization feels he’s the answer for Opening Day. And if someone keeps the position warm for half a year, Valencia won’t qualify for Super-2 status down the road. Plus, Crede’s key assets still remain – he’s a righthanded power hitter who plays fantastic defense at third base. That’s a better fit than most free agent third basemen.

And the injuries? Well, the team won’t be playing on the turf next year, which makes Crede more appealing. Also, the Twins were more patient than they probably should have been with Crede’s nagging injuries, which likely earned some points with Crede and agent Scott Boras. And if Crede breaks down over the second half of the season, you can turn to Valencia who should be a little closer to ready. On the other hand, he’s undergoing his third back surgery this year. Maybe you just want to move on.

Either way, there’s bad news here. You’re managing a team that wouldn’t even think about signing a guy who had a 750 OPS at the all-star break. However, once he posted a 558 OPS while playing in just 22 games afterwards – now he’s looking like a good fit. How depressing is that?

Estimated Contract: 1 year, $2M plus incentives


Anonymous said...

I'd imagine that Crede would be cheaper than last season (think a Thome deal). I think they'd be crazy not to do it, though Boras and Crede need to understand that he's going to spend more time on the DL if those nagging injuries occurr. It would be an excuse to give Valencia a low pressure cup of coffee where he's told he's going back down in 15 days with a list of things to work on.

Anonymous said...

Whether they have any interest in Crede will probably depend on whether they sign a second baseman. If so, Harris and Punto would likely cover third (and the budget would be exhausted). If not, then I could see them signing Crede, but probably not for two million.

Personally, given a choice between Crede for 2 million and Hudson or Lopez for 3 or 4 million, I wouldn't choos Crede. Maybe if you had a really, really hard budget cap that just won't allow adding more than 1 or 2 million to the payroll, then sure, get Crede for another year.

But from what I'm reading, they are reluctant to tie up a roster spot on an injured person, which is a real concern with Crede. So, maybe not.

How much they're allowed to spend. Given the free agent market this year, it sure looks like you could get a lot more bang for your buck upgrading at second than at third. Whichever you choose, Punto will likely start at the other position, so they should probably focus on upgrading at second.

I do think they know what they're doing; the only real issue is probably how much they're allowed to spend.

Given the huge stadium subsidy, I'd like to see them raise the payroll to the hundred million level. If you're spending 9 figures on Mauer, may as well spend a few more so that a third of his value isn't thrown down the toilet by starting the worst-hitting second-basemen in either league (See Jesse's comment the other day, pointing out that Punto, Casilla, and Tolbert ranked 41, 42, and 43 in OPS.) If they don't upgrade at second, they are essentially cancelling out a $25 million player by refusing to spend $4 million more elsehwere.

If Mauer hits 250 points above average in OPS, and our second basemen hit 150 points below average in OPS, they might as well have saved their money and hired a catcher and second baseman who each hit 50 points above average, because the results would be the same.

TT said...

"If Mauer hits 250 points above average in OPS, and our second basemen hit 150 points below average in OPS, they might as well have saved their money and hired a catcher and second baseman who each hit 50 points above average, because the results would be the same."

No, they won't be the same. Its like saying 2*30 =12*20 because 30+2=12+20. Its a complete fallacy that there is a linear relationship between individual numbers and team performance.

John said...

I think they should sign Hudson if he comes cheap, more so because he is reliable than for the overall team improvement. Punto could have a solid year, Casilla could have a breakout season, but it is safer to have Punto in the utility role and not rely on Casilla to do much.

Anonymous said...

Valencia playing 3B for Puerto Rico in the Caribbean WS didn't exactly do a lot to inspire me (at least in the first game - I didn't catch tonight's).