Despite playing just over half of the season, Joe Crede managed to be Minnesota's second most-valuable infielder. That's obviously not saying much—considering how Matt Tolbert and Alexi Casilla combined for 454 plate appearances this season—but for a guy who appeared to be his own voodoo doll, it's quite the accomplishment.
Crede spent just under half the season on the disabled list. Recovery from back surgery, a strain in his lower back, a right shoulder irritation, a bruised left knee, an injured right hand, and a sore hamstring should all be flashing, neon signs to stay away from this injury-prone 31-year-old, right?
Wrong. Like it or not, an injury-prone third baseman may be exactly what the Twins need in 2010.
When healthy, Crede was exactly what Minnesota expected when they signed him to a one-year deal last year: A great defensive third baseman with some occasional pop in his bat. Even though he had an on-base-percentage that would make Carlos Gomez blush, Crede provided a slugging-percentage of .414 and added 15 of the team's 172 home runs.
While Crede absolutely would have played better if healthy the entire season, there is another large reason why he needs to be re-signed for the 2010 campaign: He's the best option.
The Twins have huge holes at the three infield positions left of first base, and we've already decided that Nick Punto will start at one of them . That leaves two gaps that must be filled with the $19.3 million we've determined Minnesota has available to them.
One simple solution would be to allow Brendan Harris and Matt Tolbert to continue to platoon at the hot corner; despite the horrendous on-base-percentages, neither has awful defense. This would allow time for the much-overhyped, yet remarkably consistent, Danny Valencia to slowly be handed the full-time gig.
Yet, Crede would cost just over $3 million. If he stayed healthy the entire 2010 season, Crede would provide a powerful bench bat after Valencia assumes the third-base role. Assuming that Crede misses a large portion of the season, he would still provide similar numbers to 2009 while helping to mentor the young third-base prospect.
Doing some simple deductions, a $3 million, one-year offer to Crede would leave $16.3 million for the remaining middle infield position, any rotation holes that need patching, and a potential restructuring of Joe Mauer 's contract. (Mauer makes $12.5 million this season, and part of a long-term extension could increase that to around $20 million. Keeping an extra $8 million on hand for Mauer is necessary)
Crede is a much more desirable option than a Harris/Tolbert platoon. Not only is Crede able to provide some decent offensive pop, but his glove at third base is the best in the league .
Few teams will want to commit more than $3 million to the injury-prone Crede. For the Twins, though, $3 million is a very affordable price for a much-needed commodity.
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