Joe Crede to the Twins: Brian Sabean and the Giants Let a Smart Option Get Away

Danny PenzaSenior Writer IFebruary 23, 2009

Two weeks ago I made the argument that the San Francisco Giants should sign third baseman Joe Crede because it was not only a smart baseball move, but a smart business move as well.

The only problem is that Crede signed this past weekend with the Minnesota Twins, and the Giants are again left wondering what to do with the right side of their infield.

But that could've been averted if Giants General Manager Brian Sabean had taken a risk on a player who, when healthy, is one of the best in the league.

Crede signed with the Twins for a base salary of $2.5 million and incentives that can move the value of the contract to $7 million. The incentives kick in when Crede hits 250 plate appearances and tops out at 525.

Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it?

In my Crede article two weeks ago, I said that a one-year contract, much like the one he just signed Saturday with the Twins, wouldn't be much of a risk for the Giants.

To the contrary, if Crede is healthy and productive, that $2.5 million base salary would be quite the bargain and the quality of play he would provide would be well-worth the extra money that the incentives would give Crede.

If he had the opportunity to be productive in a Giants uniform and ended up doing so, then salary wouldn’t matter. And then if he wasn’t productive or got hurt, the Giants could just part ways and find another player, internally or out on the open market, to play at third in 2010.

Why Sabean wouldn't throw his hat into the ring and sign a potential All-Star for that kind of price is confusing. You don’t pass up a player of Crede’s caliber, both offensively and defensively, and have an average player try and fill that hole.

But to say the Giants didn’t need him would also be something you shouldn’t take to heart.

As it stands now, it's Pablo Sandoval at third and a cast of characters vying for time at first base, with Travis Ishikawa the favorite to get the starting spot a week into Spring Training.

We all know Sandoval can hit whether he is at first, third, or behind the plate, but will Ishikawa be able to produce consistently at the Major League level?

He hasn’t done it in back-to-back seasons in the minors, so this season, even this spring, is vital for Ishikawa to prove people wrong that he can get it done week in and week out.

A Sandoval-Ishikawa pairing at the corners is the most likely one of all, but a Crede-Sandoval one could’ve struck much more fear in middle of the Giants’ lineup.

Ishikawa did fairly well with the Giants in 2008, hitting .274 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 104 plate appearances. However, only two of those plate appearances came against left-handed pitchers.

If Ishikawa wants to be the everyday first baseman, he will have to improve on his numbers against lefties.

However, if Crede were signed, manager Bruce Bochy wouldn’t have to worry about a platoon at first. Sandoval would slide across the diamond to first and play there everyday. Crede would obviously take third and the only position up for grabs this spring would be at second base.

But now this certainly won’t be the case.

Now as the Giants head into their first spring game in three days, who will be playing on the right side of the infield is still up in the air. This is something that Giants fans certainly didn’t want to see happen during yet another spring.