What about Joe Crede? Should the Reds take a chance, say a one-year contract with club option for 2010, on Crede? I know, a faulty back & Scott Boras are two strikes against him from the start. He is presently working out pain-free. Here's an article from last October:
Free Agent Bargain: Joe Crede by Dave Cameron - October 28, 2008 ∑ Filed under Daily Graphings
So, this time, I swear, the free agent bargain is actually a free agent.
Much like with Juan Rivera, this potential bargain was a tremendous player in 2006 - he hit .283/.323/.506, good for a 0.71 WPA/LI in 586 plate appearances. The power overcame the low on base rate, and he was a somewhat above average hitter. Meanwhile, John Dewanís +/- system had him at +31 plays at his position, a staggering total that profiled him as an elite defender. As a third baseman, the combination of above average bat and remarkably awesome glove made him one of the gameís under-appeciated stars.
Iím guessing that practically no one has figured out that Iím talking about Joe Crede, because he certainly didnít get much publicity for his outstanding 2006 at the time. As defensive performances get more notoriety, however, we can look back at that season and recognize it as one of the best under-the-radar seasons in recent history.
However, in 2007, Credeís balky balk finally went out, and he had to undergo season ending back surgery. Those back problems cut his 2008 season short as well, and over the last two years, heís been limited to just 551 plate appearances while playing through pain. His reliability is a real question, and the White Sox are expected to go another direction in their quest for a full time third baseman.
Now, Iím not a doctor, so donít take this as any kind of endorsement of his future health. For all I know, his back problems could be career ending. However, if theyíre not, and the medical people can figure out how to keep him on the field, his 2008 performance should assure potential GMs that Crede can still play.
The power is still there - he had a .212 ISO, built on 36 extra base hits in just 335 at-bats. His contact rate was identical to his 2006 performance, so it doesnít appear he had to adjust his swing to compensate for the pain. Contact and power are the building blocks of a good hitter, and Credeís abilities in those areas didnít seem to suffer when he was on the field.
Defensively, itís pretty much the same story. Heís played just over 1,200 innings at third base the last two years, basically a full seasonís worth of games, and +/- has him at +24 plays over that time. Even as a step down from his +31 in 2006, itís a great rating. You could conservatively drop his true talent level to +15, accounting for more aging, and heíd still be among the very best hot corner defenders around.
In terms of on field skills, Crede projects as something close to a league average hitter with defense thatís worth +1.5 to +2.0 wins above an average third baseman. Over a full season, that would make Crede a +3.5 to +4 win player. If he was completely healthy, weíd expect him to get something like $15 million a year in a long term deal.
But heís not healthy, and so heís not going to get anything close to that. Itíd be shocking if he got anything beyond a one year offer with a team option for 2010. But if he can stay on the field, even for 100-120 games a year, heís got the abilities to play at an all-star level. Right now, heís Milton Bradley with less attitude problems, and there are probably quite a few teams who wish they would have taken a chance on Bradley last winter.
It all depends on his health, because there shouldnít be too many questions about Joe Credeís abilities to help a winning team when heís on the field.
Is he worth a chance as the right-handed bat the Reds are looking for?