I'm finding myself in the minority regarding the Twins' signing of third baseman Joe Crede over the weekend. I'm not standing on the welcome wagon - not yet. I just find it all a little suspicious, nay, worrisome, that we would so readily allow a nine-year member of the Chicago White Sox into our collective Bread Basket clubhouse. A White Sox fan or player is different from us: they're the people that bring a soda and popcorn into the restroom at a movie theater; the variety of person that still thinks those leather jackets donning a shitload of MLB emblems are cool; the kind of people that made Larry the Cable Guy famous. They are unlike us and they are dangerous.
Should Crede be found furiously scribbling notes in a dim corner of the spring training, Hammond Stadium locker room, then we must not hesitate to make him . . . disappear.
My own concerns and paranoia regarding Crede's affiliations (and bad back) aside, I'm really not convinced that this will prove to be a huge baseball move for the Twins. Do I hope I'm wrong? Absolutely. Did the Twins get a deal in signing Crede for $2.5 mil? Undoubtedly - especially considering that Crede's incentive clause calls for calls for a total payment of $7 mil for 525 at-bats, an amount he has accrued just once in the last five seasons.
It's been 20 years since a Twins third baseman has won a Gold Glove and 22 seasons since a Twins third baseman has knocked 30-plus home runs - both compliments of Gary Gaetti. Crede has never won a Gold Glove himself, although he is readily and often described as "Gold Glove caliber." The 30 home run season is within his realm of possibility as well: Crede has averaged 20 bombs in his six MLB seasons of 50-plus games played; in 2006, his best year, Crede reached that 30 blast mark, while also hitting .283 and knocking in nearly 100 runs. But that was two years ago. In seasons since, Crede has played just 144 games because of his back issues. Of further concern is his .219 average in 86 career games played in domed stadiums and mirrored .219 clip in 49 ballgames played in the Metrodome specifically. That latter stat, by far, stands as Crede's poorest average in any of the Central Division's five stadiums.
Photo by leath via Flickr
Crede's addition spells short time, in my mind, for Brendan Harris. Brian Buscher, while still a defensive liability at third, can boast the usefulness and result of his lefty bat, having hit .316 against righties last year. Matt Tolbert is healthy and would seem Harris' top competition for a utility role. Harris did field to the tune of .979 at third last year and was the hot choice for the hot corner at season's end, however with Nick Punto and Alexi Casilla penciled in at short and second respectively, I just see journeyman Harris thumbing a ride with bat, cleats and thermos in tow come the onset of April.
With 42 days until the Twins' regular season begins the addition of Joe Crede, at this juncture, is -- even should it prove to be nothing else come the fall -- a fine PR move for the club. Crede's back issue will prove a test of his own mettle and the trainer's patience and prowess.
As per the trustworthiness of this longtime member of our primary rival, it is my advice that we proceed with caution until he proves his worth. My advice to Twins players and staff:
Be courteous to Crede, but not overly personal. Keep discussion limited to surface subjects: "Florida is very nice." If a Twin must dine with him: do so in public and not at a private residence. Teach him the pertinent signs, but leave a few nuggets in the bag - he'll get by. Disallow him to write down or record any notes during team meetings or pep talks. Share your seeds and chewing tobacco with him, but never reveal the particular brand or make of said habit - just give him a handful.
This is a man, my friends, that has spent considerable time in the presence of Ozzie Guillen. We must proceed with paranoia, patience, and prudence.