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Crede Signs With Twins; Cruz In the Works?

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Were you lulled to sleep, too?

What a massive weekend for the Twins!  If, like me, you completely missed the Joe Crede signing yesterday, where did that come from?

Joe Crede

I'll let LaVelle explain the details of the one-year, incentive-laden deal:

The Twins will sign Crede to one-year deal with a base salary of $2.5 million with the chance to earn as much as $7 million with appearance bonuses. The bonuses begin once Crede reaches 250 plate appearances and tops out at $7 million when he makes his 525th plate appearance.

Here's the big thing with how this contract works out--if Crede manages to keep himself off the disabled list and healthy, he's going to get his $7 million.  If he's healthy enough to log all those plate appearances, I'm optimistic he's also healthy enough to provide some pretty good defense at the hot corner as well.  If the worst happens and he's unable to shake his injuries, then there's nothing about this contract that will handcuff the organization.

What the biggest detractor will be for Crede as a member of the Twins will be fan expectations.  For his career, Joe isn't that amazing of a hitter--.257/.306/.447.  Try that on for size against Tony Batista (.251/.293/.453) or Craig Monroe (.253/.301/.444), and that should really put things in perspective for everyone.  Yes, I hear you--his defense has the potential to save runs and, perhaps, change the outcome of a game from time to time--but even in today's game, defense is going to have a hard time making up for not meeting fan expectations.

As Neal mentioned this afternoon, Joe Crede is a mammoth specimen of a man.  At 6-2, 230, it's easy to see why he can launch baseballs into the stratosphere.  But for many baseball fans, they're not expecting to see a Joe Crede who hits like Craig Monroe, they're expecting to see Joe Crede The Twin Killer.  Here's a guy who hit .400/.429/1.050 in 40 at-bats against Minnesota in 2008, and going back to 2001 when he made his professional debut against the Twins it's been a lot of the same.

Year

OPS vs MIN

2001

1.000

2002

.517

2003

.625

2004

.696

2005

.772

2006

.790

2007

.692

2008

1.479

Oh, wait.  According to these numbers, it'd be hard to call Crede any sort of Twin Killer.  In fact, it certainly appears that his offensive reputation has outgrown who he actually is.  I'm placing this blame on his post-season performance of 2005, when he blasted four October home runs...and still only hit .250/.250/.250.

Don't get me wrong here, because I'm actually in favor of this signing based on what Crede could provide, and based on the terms of his contract.  I just want to ensure that our heads aren't floating in the clouds, because over the course of this summer there's going to be plenty of "Crede's not doing his job!" crap going around on sports talk radio.

Juan Cruz

There's been a bit of buzz surrounding the strikeout-happy Juan Cruz since Arizona started discussing a sign-and-trade deal with the reliever, but Neal put the hammer down on those rumors this afternoon as well:

As for reliever Juan Cruz, reports that the Twins are close to a sign and trade deal aren’t true, according to a person with knowledge of talks. And all indications are that this deal will be hard to pull off. It’s going to be hard enough to agree to terms with the agent. Getting the Diamondbacks to agree on a trade might be even tougher. Things could always change but, for now, there’s little reason to feel optimistic that the Twins can land Cruz.

Ignoring the potential cost in dollars and prospects for the moment, the addition of a guy like Cruz to the Minnesota bullpen would provide immediate stability throughout the ranks.  With Cruz sliding into the set-up role, Jesse Crain, Craig Breslow and Matt Guerrier would be pitching exclusively out of roles they've been suited for:  leverage innings in middle relief.  There's talent and depth in the Minnesota bullpen, but none of it stacks up to what Cruz could bring to the table.

But, back to reality (whoop, there goes gravity) and it's pretty clear that this situation has it's share of thorns, too.  While this scenario would ensure the Twins wouldn't lose their first-round draft pick this June for signing a Type-A free agent, the Diamondbacks put themselves in primise position to pick up a decent prospect anyway.  In regards to performance, in opposition to all those sexy strikeouts are all those scary walks, which is something Minnesota pitchers aren't accustomed to handing out.

If, for some miracle, the Twins and Diamondbacks are able to find a way to make this all work, I'll consider the bullpen to be vastly improved.  If not, well...it's already been a big weekend with the squad landing a pretty big free agent fish.