Monday, February 11, 2008

Campaigning for Crede

Yo Joe!

I'm probably the only person in Chicago with this opinion, but here goes nothing:

If healthy at Spring Training, keep Joe Crede, and trade Josh Fields.

Before the hate mail comes, let me explain myself. First of all, who here has a problem with Crede? Yes, he has Boras for an agent and believes that he's entitled to more money. So what? Aren't all players doing that right now? And he has a bad back. Yes, I understand this. In fact, he finally had surgery this offseason to correct it (instead of his usual treatment of "trying harder"). He's not taking the Pods approach -- he's getting it fixed and then having sex with Lisa Dergan.

Here's what I can say for Joe: he is the most clutch ballplayer I have ever seen (take that, Jose Valentin). He brings his "A" game and provides that big hit when you need it most. Also, he's the best defensive 3B that the Sox have had in at least 20 years (minimum). Joe makes our defense twice as good just by being on the field. He can snare just about anything in a 14-foot radius. That's impressive. Hell, he even makes Juan Uribe look passable. We didn't turn all those double-plays in '05 by chance.

Fields has a lot of things going for him -- a cheap contract, youth, power, and...religious intent (to retire? Maybe). But Fields will never be the defensive monster Crede is. Fields a liability in the field (irony!), and we almost moved him to LF just to cut down on the errors. Being able to catch and throw the ball smoothly is half the battle.

In terms of batting, his numbers project to be similar to Crede's (with more power, perhaps -- Crede was only a 20-25 HR guy). Otherwise, Fields is no faster than Crede on the basepaths, and doesn't do anything else much better (except for strike out). Heck, he's not even that much younger than Joe (Joe is 29, Fields is 26!).

If you do some numbers crunching, you discover a horrible truth: Fields could easily be the second coming of Sammy Sosa. I'm not interested in seeing a Sox player hit 50 HR if he strikes out 250+ times. In 100 games last year, he struck out 125 times (in 373 ABs). Almost exactly 1/3 his total at-bats ended with a whiff. That's bad news. Joe didn't strike out 125 times in 2005 and 2006 COMBINED.

Am I trying to squash Fields? By no means! I'm rooting for him all the way. If the Sox hang on to him (and they probably will), I will cheer for him and watch him dominate bad pitching. I just think that Fields' value is going to change drastically this season, and you can't really know how until it happens. If he has a nice season owning 3B, then he becomes a great commodity -- it doesn't build too much on his current value, but it solidifies him on the team. However, if he can't find his swing, we have Brian Anderson/Joe Borchard all over again and have a problem worse than if Crede is just hurt. If he had proven himself at some level, he would still have value (like when Eric Chavez has a bad season and still gets a nice contract). Unfortunately for Josh, he's still just a rookie.

If Crede is healthy (with signs of remaining healthy), re-sign him to a long term deal. Incredibly risky, I know, but he would come WAY below what his value should be. Not only that, but in three years when players are making EVEN MORE, his contract will look cheap in comparison. Trade Fields to a team that needs youth at the position (maybe the Giants?) for a very good prospect crop. Then, spend 500k on a reserve infielder in case Crede has to miss time.

Most people think trading Crede is the best choice, but because his value is so low right now, we're not going to get more than a prospect for him (and not even a very good one at that). Why let some other team ride Crede for nothing when we have to start the question mark that is Josh Fields?

Re-sign Crede.

Best case scenario, you get a gold-glove clutch hitter on the cheap, and a future pitcher who could contribute in a few years when this pitching staff is dismantled. You lose the possibility of having a 3B who is as good as Crede. Worst case scenario, Crede can't rebound and Fields becomes the next Carlos Lee. You still get a top prospect for Fields, and you can always dump Crede later.

Do it, Kenny.

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