Joe Crede‘s tenure at third base for the Minnesota Twins looks like it will remain a brief one.
Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune is receiving hints that the club will not bring Crede back. Twins GM Bill Smith says he’s comfortable with the current group of in-house candidates the team has for the job.
Assuming the Twins don’t sign a second baseman and Nick Punto stays there, Brendan Harris appears to be the frontrunner for the starting job at third base, with Matt Tolbert also being an option.
When we talked to Christensen’s colleague La Velle E. Neal on the radio last week, he thought that Crede still remained an option for the Twins at that time.
Crede didn’t hit much in 90 games last year, but he did flash a little bit of pop with 15 homers and is still considered to be a very good glove at third base.
In all likelihood, Harris will keep the starting job warm for prospect Danny Valencia. Indications are that he will be with the Twins at some point in 2010, despite not receiving a September call-up last year.
No matter how you slice it, Harris was not a productive option offensively or defensively at third base last year. Among third basemen receiving at least 400 plate appearance, his slugging percentage was third-worst (ahead of only Florida’s Emilio Bonifacio and Baltimore’s Melvin Mora) and his OPS was second-worst (ahead of only Bonifacio).
Defensively, among players with at least 300 innings at third base, his fielding percentage was fifth-worst of the 46 players eligible.
Prefer the more complicated defensive metrics? In UZR/150, which judges how many runs a player costs his team over 150 games at the position, Harris ranks third-worst at a minus-26.3. No surprises among those near the bottom. Baltimore’s Ty Wigginton and Florida’s Jorge Cantu are the only ones behind Harris, and no one else is even close to those three.
Any right-handed hitter at Target Field should go pull crazy next year, with Harris at third and Delmon Young in left field. The Mike Redmond opposite-field hitting approach would not be wise against these Twins.
Valencia is the closest thing the Twins have to a major league ready position player at Triple-A, but it’s odd that the organization didn’t feel comfortable giving him a spot on the team in September, but now is looking at having him as a starter sometime in 2010.
Valencia was great at Double-A last year and actually cut his strikeout rate after a promotion to Triple-A, but his on-base percentage took a nose-dive from .373 to .305.
In previous promotions, he fares much better in his second year at each level, so the Twins can hope his numbers will get even better this year.
I wouldn’t rule Crede out just yet. The market still has a couple of Crede-like guys out there, and I just don’t know what teams would be interested in them. The price of these free agents should continue to drop, making it much tougher for the Twins to pass up.