With Joe Crede hurt and in-house options not tearing the cover off the ball, when is the right time to call upon Rochester's 24-year old third baseman?
I really wish Crede would stop getting hurt. Or if not hurt, nickled and dimed out of playing. This latest set-back is quite temporary, but with another cortisone shot to his right shoulder he's scheduled to "just" miss this weekend's series in Detroit. Here's the sad part: going back one month to the 9th of July the Twins have played 24 games and Crede has played in just 13 of them.
Oddly enough, the Twins are 2-9 in the eleven games without Joe. Yes, they're 8-5 with him. And while those records are less representative of his contributions to the club than they are of team performance in those games, there's no doubt Minnesota misses Crede in the field.
UZR/150, 3rd Base, Minnesota Twins, 2009
Joe Crede: 19.3
Brian Buscher: -12.9
Brendan Harris: -15.6
Matt Tolbert: -97.3
But this is rehashing what we already know--that Crede brings value with him onto the field. The problem is that getting onto the field precludes you must be healthy. Which, as we've covered, he isn't.
As of this afternoon, one Daniel Valencia of the Rochester Red Wings is hitting .288/.311/.471 in 153 at-bats. It's not mouth-watering but it's certainly not bad. He's been rumored to be decent with the leather at the hot corner, and if he is actually going to be the front-runner for third base over the next couple of seasons I won't blame anyone for wanting to get a glimpse. Valencia appeared to be a hot commodity running up to the trade deadline. Who really doesn't want to audition the future?
This is a multi-facted issue. Valencia isn't a sure shot by any stretch of the imagination, and so thrusting a rookie into the midst of a playoff push won't be doing the other 24 men on your MLB roster any favors in confidence. There's also service time, and we know the Twins aren't always the most eager to start the clock. Not to mention the problems of who to send down, what's best for Valencia's development in the larger picture, and what to do with him should Crede actually get healthy and play everyday through the end of September because exclusively riding the pine is probably not the best option.
According to the Minor League Equivalency calculator, translating Valencia's current line in Rochester into a triple slash for the Twins comes to a disappointing .251/.274/.400.
Maybe Valencia gives the bench a little more strength in terms of pop, but unless Crede does actually go down in flames or we can guarantee he'll only be playing part time I'm not quite ready to call for this one. Valencia needs to play everyday while he can. Besides, once the Red Wings' season wraps up in a couple of weeks it's almost a guarantee that Danny gets a cup of coffee in September anyway. Why rob him of his playing time if he's only going to sit on the bench for two weeks?
Just for fun, and for reference, here are the offensive numbers for the top third baseman in the Twins triple-A system over the last ten years. All numbers are courtesy of The Baseball Cube.
Suffice it to say that this hasn't exactly been a bumper crop. I have only three things to say.
- That '04 - '07 era was a hard time. Poor Terry Tiffee.
- Tiffee was clearly on something in 2004. Oddly enough he's still playing, this season with the Phillies triple-A affiliate.
- I'm really glad we didn't give that Casey Blake fellow too many chances. 29 games over three seasons was more than enough.