Minnesota Twins Sign All-Star Third Baseman Joe Crede

Zeke Fuhrman@@mellamoelzekeAnalyst IIIFebruary 21, 2009

The Twins have finally made an offseason move worth talking about.

They have signed All-Star third baseman Joe Crede, formerly of the rival Chicago White Sox, to a one year, $2.5 million deal that could possibly reach $7 million based on Crede's performance.

Crede, who will turn 31 in April, had seen decreased playing time in Chicago. Despite being an All-Star in 2008, he only played in 11 games after the All-Star break in favor of Juan Uribe, Pablo Ozuna, and Josh Fields.

Before 2007, Crede saw an increase in his power numbers every year since entering the majors in 2000, steadily increasing from 12 home runs in 2002 to 30 in 2006.

Crede was a key component of the ChiSox' 2005 championship season, hitting .252 with 22 home runs. He also saved many games and runs with his gold glove caliber defense. Crede is best known for his game winning RBI double in the bottom of the ninth in Game 2 of the 2005 World Series vs. Houston.

2006 was a career year for Crede, in which he had career highs in batting average (.283), home runs (30), and RBI (94). He also recorded a fielding average of .978, the highest of his career, and only had 10 errors in 339 attempts. He won the Silver Slugger Award for third basemen.

Crede's 2007 season was cut short due to season-ending back surgery. Crede only appeared in 47 games, hitting .216 with four home runs and 22 RBIs.

Crede bounced back in 2008, and was elected to his first All-Star Game. He was hitting .292 in mid-June, but his offensive numbers steadily dropped, thanks in most part to a 16-92 (.173) stretch with two home runs (of his 15 first half home runs) and eight RBI (of his 49 first half RBIs) from June 9 through July 12.

Crede was benched four games after the All-Star break in favor of Juan Uribe. Crede appeared in only eleven games in the second half, going 8-37 (.216) with one home run and four RBI.

Crede also made a career high 20 errors in 207 attempts (.930).

Crede is the perfect example of players the Twins' organization is more than welcome to give a uniform. A chiseled veteran who has been in the division for eight years, and looking for a shot at redemption. What do the Twins have to lose?

Since Corey Koskie's departure via free agency in 2005, the Twins have played 16 different players at third base (Micahel Cuddyer, Luis Rodriguez, Terry Tiffee, Glenn Williams, Nick Punto, Juan Castro, Michael Ryan, Tony Batista, Brian Buscher, Jeff Cirillo, Tommy Watkins, Mike Lamb, Brendan Harris, Matt Tolbert, Matt Macri, and Howie Clark.)

The Twins were getting desperate after failing to sign Casey Blake or Ty Wigginton, and failing to make a deal for Garrett Atkins or J.J Hardy.

During the past few seasons, the Twins have signed veterans Livan Hernandez, Craig Monroe, and Tony Batista as bridge-the-gap players while waiting for the young guys in the minors to develop. Neither Hernandez, Monroe, or Batista lasted past June, as the Twins had someone to bring up.

This year, that player is Luke Hughes. Hughes played 70 games at AA New Britain last season, hitting .319 (91-285) with 15 home runs and 40 RBI before being called up to AAA Rochester, where he hit .283 (30-106) with three homerun and 21 RBI in 29 games.

The Twins also have Brian Buscher (.294, 4 HR, 47 RBI, 70 games), and re-signed Nick "Human-Highlight-Reel" Punto (.284, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 99 games). Punto could slide in from SS if needed, due to the return of Matt Tolbert, who missed most of 2008 with an injured finger.

If Crede doesn't succeed in Minnesota, Bill Smith and Ron Gardenhire have plenty of other options. It is a win-win for the Twins.

If Crede flourishes in Minnesota, the Twins will finally have their third baseman. If not, he can bridge the gap until the Twins can bring up Luke Hughes.