Joe Crede and the Minnesota Twins

Published 9:16 am Thursday, February 26, 2009

Doesn’t Fort Myers, Fla., the home of the Minnesota Twins spring training site look appealing with its temperatures in the 70s? It’s definitely tempting to skip the month’s bills and head down. But a person has to be responsible and not spend what he doesn’t have.

However, the Twins may be the best option on the Minnesota sports board even though they are not yet playing for real. The Gopher men’s hockey and basketball teams are struggling to make it into the NCAA postseason tournament and the Minnesota Timberwolves are again losing, terminating a brief comeback after center Al Jefferson’s injury. It looks like the Minnesota sports scene has shifted its emphasis to the Twins almost by default.

The Twins organization recently made big news with the signing of ex-White Sox all-star third baseman Joe Crede. It looks like a good move with the Twins not on the hook for big money if his bad back does not hold up. Crede provides power and a slick glove at third. There are some analysts that are less than entranced by the move. One naysayer feels Crede doesn’t show much improvement over the anticipated Buscher-Harris platoon. The feeling is that he won’t hit for a better average than the Buscher-Harris combo. That’s true, he probably won’t, but analysts have hollered for years about the Twins lack of power and to a lesser degree about the defense at third base last year. Crede solves both problems. He is probably the best fielding third baseman in the Bigs and normally provides 20 to 30 dingers a year. That number of homers would put him in Justin Morneau company. And Crede will, according to no less an authority than Ozzie Guillen White Sox manager, save runs with his defense and make the Twins’ pitchers better.

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I believe he will also allow Justin Morneau to see better pitches when he bats behind the slugger. He not only provides power, he provides, as sometimes the analysts overlook, the threat of power. A pitcher may think I won’t give Morneau anything good to hit, for if I walk him, the next hitter won’t hurt me much. Crede changes all that. Another aspect of the signing is, if Crede’s back acts up, the Twins have their original plan in place with Buscher-Harris and they will be no worse off than they were.

To continue the Crede signing tribute: The Twins only gave up money to get him. There was no trade involved and they didn’t have to give up one of their young starters. Also this will be a free agent year for Joe and he will certainly be motivated to do well and ensure his financial future.

This was a great move by our Twins organization with plenty of up side and not much of a down side for our team.

The organization has now addressed one of its obvious needs, only leaving a setup pitcher spot in front of closer Joe Nathan not filled. They seem to be trying to meet that need with an offer to Juan Cruz, a hard throwing young reliever. This would involve a trade and they would have to give up something to get something. The Twins usually have a pitcher to spare and trading Phillip Humber, who came over in the Johan Santana trade, and Boof Bonsor would certainly be acceptable, but I doubt they could get the trade done with those two. If the Twins can get a solid set up man on the order of Pat Neshek, it’s hard to find many holes on the team.

I wonder who they’ll play in the World Series?