Time for the Twins to Sign Joe Crede Longterm?

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Time for the Twins to Sign Joe Crede Longterm?
(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Since Corey Koskie left the Twins at the end of 2004 the club failed to find someone to fill his position at third base.
Over the years the club relied on a committee of players including Michael Cuddyer, Nick Punto, Brian Buscher, Matt Tolbert, Brendan Harris, Mike Lamb, Matt Macri, Terry Tiffee, Luis Rodriguez, Juan Castro, and a bunch of others to cover the hole in the organization.

The hot corner was a huge weakness for the twins over the last four years. From replacement players to free agents, the Twins just couldn’t find a good answer.

In 2009 the Twins brought Joe Crede to Minnesota from hated division rivals The Chicago White Sox. Signed to an incentive laden contract, the former All Star received positive if lukewarm reception around the Twins blogosphere.

The general conclusion was whether or not the signing worked out, the price was right.

Through the first half of the 2009 season Crede has hit .230/.297/.435 which is close to his .255/.305/.446 career slash line. He has sat out 20 games in the first half with various nagging injuries but he is on pace to play in more games than he has in three years.

In comparison, Joe Mauer, has played in sixty games thanks to missing the first month of the season due to injury. That’s only five games less than Crede.

On defense, Crede is the best in the league. His Ultimate Zone Rating, available from FanGraphs, is the highest of any third baseman in the Majors. This balances out the fact Crede is an average to below average bat.

Having Crede at third base this year has been great for the Twins. Crede’s bat has added some punch to a lineup that needed help and his defense has been superb.

The question being raised by some Twins fans and on-line pundits found here and elsewhere, do the Twins sign Crede for 2010 and beyond?

Let’s hope not.

The Twins have gotten everything they could have possibly hoped for from Joe Crede. He was a good glove with a bat that could occasionally hit for lots of power. But he’s not a long-term answer at third.

He’s 31 years old, over the hill for baseball players, and has already missed a quarter of the Twins games so far this year despite being “healthy.”

It might be a different story if the Twins didn’t have Danny Valencia smashing the ball in Rochester this year. The 25 year old Twins Prospect has hit .303/.363/.487 over his minor league career and has hit .345/.361/.534 in 15 games so far in AAA following his recent promotion.

Valencia is also reputed to have a good glove at third base and there’s some evidence for this in the limited statistics available.

Valencia projects to be a competent and able Major League player.

And Valencia won’t cost the Twins millions of dollars.

The Twins also have Brendan Harris, Brian Buscher, and AAA prospect Luke Hughes to cover the third base spot in 2010 in case something goes wrong with Valencia.

So, when it comes to Joe Crede, the Twins should pass on re-signing him. They have cheaper options available that can provide the same level of performance without concerns about age or nagging injuries.

Even a best-case scenario in 2010 for Joe Crede would have the Twins being forced to find someone to play part-time when Joe takes his regular off days like he has this year.

Congratulate Crede for putting up a good show and appreciate his ball playing talent. But let’s hope the Twins do the smart thing and let Crede walk next year.

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