In a move I had longed hoped would happen, Joe Crede is returning to professional baseball.
A 2005 post-season hero (.622 career playoff slugging percentage!), and a virtuoso 3rd baseman who somehow never managed to get recognized for a gold glove (+57.9 career UZR), Crede hasn’t logged 100 games since 2006 due to chronic back problems that reached full bore just as Joe was becoming an above-average offensive player.
Like all members of the 2005 team (except for Damaso Marte, it seems) Crede earned a permanent special place in the memories of all White Sox fans for his efforts in bringing home a World Series Championship.
Crede retains a special place in my memories because as he caught fire
in High-A ball in 1998 and became the subject of semi-regular swooning
by Hawk Harrelson, he became the first White Sox prospect I really
tracked the development of. I listened for reports of his raking power
bat, read descriptions of his sure glove, and waited through some dreary
seasons for his regular September call-up.
In 2002, Crede came up for the third time, and hit 12 HR in 200 at-bats,
suggesting that the White Sox hadn’t just found their new 3rd baseman,
but a new power-bat for the lineup. Unfortunately, that didn’t
materialize. Joe had power, sure, but he fought through slumps, periods
of working out holes in his swing, and didn’t have the plate discipline
to work counts in his favor. Half the fun of seeing him dominate in the 2005
playoffs was the prospect of the great hitter I hoped Crede would become
emerging on a national stage.
The way in which Crede really endeared himself to the Sox faithful, other than
finding himself in the position of delivering some memorable hits, is
his glove work. Long, agile, and rangey with great reflexes, Joe
emerged as one of the best corner infielders in the game, and because he stewed
in his first couple years on some irrelevant middle-of-the-road Sox
teams, he also was one of the most overlooked. To this day, I can’t
accept that UZR doesn’t take into account a player’s ability to snag
line drive hit right to their area, because I’m convinced that no one
was better at it than Crede, and it should be recognized.
Finally, (and this is entirely me reminiscing to an absurd degree) Crede
was emblematic of the 2005 team more than anyone. He played top-flight defense, his
offense was very homer-centric, he seemed better than his stats, and he
always looked like he just climbed out of a dishwasher. Memories.
So the nostalgic in me is very happy to see Crede back in baseball,
even for a piddling minor league deal in the NL West. It’s great to see
him get another chance, and the soulless pragmatist in me, is really
quite glad that it didn’t come here. Sure, Crede comes at minimal cost,
but a bit of a confusing logjam already exists at 3rd base, and another
low OBP bat is not what the lineup needs. Whereas Morel is sure to
provide ace glovework, Crede dogged by injuries cannot guarantee
anything but a lot of external pressure from fans and media to play a
fan favorite over the better choice for the organization. Best for him and Morel to get a fresh start.
J.J thinks that Alejandro De Aza should be the 4th outfielder, as opposed to someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing, and has some fun with trivia. Trivia is fun. You disagree? Go to hell.
Jim Margalus runs down the non-roster invites to Spring Training, and buries his dead 1st wife.