Joe Crede Still Available

In December, I wrote a post about how Joe Crede was falling under the radar in the free agent market in 2010, much like he did in 2009, when he took a $2.5 million incentive-laden contract with the Twins. As I write today’s post, we are a mere two weeks from opening day, and Crede is still looking for a job. Reportedly, Crede isn’t retiring, and is remaining active and hoping for a job offer.

All the projection systems we have on site here project Crede as a -5 to -9 hitter over 600 plate appearances. Despite his injury issues, he still seems to be an excellent defender – his UZR/150 is 10.8 and his best fielding numbers have come in the most recent years. Putting that all together, Crede projects as a slightly above-average player, and even with an assumed injury limited season of 300 plate appearances, that’s 1.0-1.5 WAR.

So what did teams take this winter over Crede? Let’s take a look at some players who were part of the same 3B market as Crede (although some won’t be playing that position next year).

San Francisco re-signed Juan Uribe at $3.25MM, 1.2 proj. WAR
Baltimore acquired Garrett Atkins at $4.5MM, 0.5 proj. WAR
Baltimore signed Miguel Tejada at $6.0MM, 2.3 proj. WAR
Houston signed Pedro Feliz at $4.5MM, 2.0* proj. WAR
San Francisco signed Mark DeRosa at $6MM, 1.9 proj. WAR
Chicago (AL) acquired Mark Teahen at $3.75MM, 1.5 proj. WAR

And three other players have signed minor league contracts:
Texas signed Matt Brown, -0.5 proj. WAR
Los Angeles (AL) signed Robb Quinlan, -0.5 proj. WAR
Arizona signed Chad Tracy, -0.1 proj. WAR

San Francisco passed on Crede in two different situations, passing on the better 3B value in order to take the more versatile players in Uribe and DeRosa. In the case of Baltimore, Tejada is certainly a better hitter than Crede and less of an injury risk. Crede, however, is certainly the better fielder, and that makes their talent levels roughly even. It’s hard to imagine Crede not providing both a better value and more wins than Atkins.

For the Astros, Crede is just simply a better fit than Feliz. Feliz’s CHONE projection includes a very optimistic fielding projection of +9, which doesn’t fit with his progressively dropping UZR ratings and his advanced age of 34. It’s likely that Crede would provide more value both in the sense of the contract and wins than Feliz. Similarly, I think Crede would’ve been a better fit for the White Sox as opposed to the defensively challenged Teahen, and he wouldn’t have cost them as much money nor the control of Chris Getz and Josh Fields.

There are still some potential fits out there for Crede. I think he would make good Brandon Wood insurance for the Angels. A similar situation would be in St. Louis, where he could serve as David Freese insurance, but that role seems to have fallen on Felipe Lopez. It seems like a lack of versatility is what has hurt Crede’ options this winter, but Crede is still a talented player, and I would be surprised if he doesn’t latch on somewhere at some point in the season.

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Nice as it would be to land a hometown boy at a discount, there just isn’t any place for Crede on the Cardinals barring injury. Freese projects to be a league-average player, as does Felipe Lopez. Between Lugo, Craig, and Mather, they should fill out the rest of the bench quite nicely for the league minimum. If Crede was a lefty, this could be going somewhere.