November 10, 2009

Off-Season Blueprint: Letting Go (The Joe Crede Edition)

Not even a year ago, the Twins signed Joe Crede to be a one-year stopgap at third base while the organization waits for Danny Valencia to make his way up. The deal was a great opportunity for Crede to prove to other ball clubs that he was fully healed from back surgery and and worthy of a long-term contract.

Unfortunately, things didn't quite work out the way either side wanted. Valencia isn't quite ready and Crede hurt himself, eliminating any chances he had of joining another team with a multi-year deal. And although one would expect that the Twins and Crede would part ways, the contrary seems to be likely. The Twins and Crede could both use one another for yet another season.

Many believe that Valencia could probably handle the starting job right out of Spring Training, but the Twins' ultra-conservative approach with position prospects makes that a pipe dream at this point-in-time. That leaves an possibility for the Twins and Crede could be able to find a way to keep the 31-year-old in Minnesota for another year.

Any contract would likely be a one-year deal with similar incentives from his last contract. His last deal had incentives that could bring his $2.5 million salary close to $7 million based on performance and playing time.

Crede seemingly enjoyed his time with the Twins and he was a good clubhouse fit. With a team that is likely to lose veterans such as Mike Redmond and Orlando Cabrera (among others), the Twins need to keep some of the clubhouse charisma that it has. When Crede was able to play, he proved to be a very valuable defender while putting up a putrid .225/.289/.414 hitting line. But on a brighter note, he did have 16 doubles, 15 home runs and 48 RBI in 333 at-bats.

Crede underwent back surgery at the end of September and has supposedly felt very good at this point in the recovery. But when he's had three procedures on his back since 2007, it's a huge risk in any way, shape or form when dealing with a guy like him. Thankfully, he has expressed interest of staying in Minnesota and would probably accept a similar deal that brought him here in the first place.

Personally, I've always liked Crede and enjoyed him with the Twins (when he could play), but I think that the Twins would be better off going after a high on-base guy at either second base or third base and letting Nick Punto play the last infield position. With JJ Hardy at shortstop, the Twins would have a very good defensive infield if they do decide to re-sign Crede. And really, I wouldn't be outraged if they did decide to bring him back.

But it does scare me to think of another year of wasting the second spot in the lineup ahead of guys like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.