Over the weekend, Joe Christensen of the Star Tribune tweeted during Twinsfest that he was getting hints that the Twins weren't planning on bringing Joe Crede back for this coming season. Christensen mentioned that the Twins seemed ready to move on because Crede simply missed too many games last year, and the team would rather go with a combination of Brendan Harris and Danny Valencia over the course of a full season.
That logic makes very little sense to me. Here's how the Twins opening day roster likely will look, if the team doesn't make another acquisition:
C: Joe Mauer
IF: Justin Morneau, Nick Punto, JJ Hardy, Brendan Harris
OF: Michael Cuddyer, Denard Span, Delmon Young
DH: Jason Kubel
Bench: Jim Thome, Jason Pridie, Jose Morales/Drew Butera, Alexi Casilla
SP: Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, Carl Pavano, Francisco Liriano
MR: Jesse Crain, Clay Condrey/Brian Duensing/Glen Perkins, Pat Neshek, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, Jon Rauch
CL: Joe Nathan
There's 28 players listed, although the only way Drew Butera makes the opening day roster is if Jose Morales isn't healthy yet. The Twins seem ready to give Liriano every chance to win the 5th starters job, especially after his dominating Winter League performance. That means the Twins likely will have to choose one of Condrey/Perkins/Duensing to be the long reliever, and with the money they guaranteed Condrey I expect him to be the long reliever. That would put Perkins and Duensing in AAA, as both have options left, giving the Twins plenty of depth for the back end of their rotation. Anthony Swarzak will undoubtedly start the year in AAA as well, giving the Twins 3 AAA starters with decent major league experience.
If the Twins were to re-sign Crede, all they would need to do is simply option Alexi Casilla back to AAA, and use Harris as the utility man off the bench. If Crede gets hurt again, Casilla gets called back up and Harris enters the starting lineup. Crede is a better option when healthy than Harris, and it makes little sense to simply give Harris the job because of Crede's injury history.
Of course, if the team isn't going after Crede because they have their eyes on a different infielder, than it's absolutely the right decision. I've been hoping for an Orlando Hudson signing since the off-season began, but even despite conflicting reports today about that possibility, I'm not too optimistic about it. There simply aren't a lot of options left, and unless there is an infielder available via trade, the only real options are Felipe Lopez, Hudson and Crede.
Looking at the likely opening day roster, it makes one wonder what that 'extra' piece would have had to be to get Kevin Kouzmanoff from the Padres. The Twins offered Glen Perkins, but were told they needed to add more. LaVelle E. Neal of the Star Tribune said it would have been 'crazy to add Alexi Casilla' in a deal like that, although I'm not sure if Neal was speculating that the Padres want Casilla or if that was in fact what the team needed to add.
Considering that Casilla would have been the odd man out with a Kouzmanoff acquisition, I tend to think Neal was simply speculating, because it would have been crazy NOT to make that trade from a Twins perspective. Rather than continuing to look for an infielder this late in the off-season, the team would simply have to decide between Francisco Liriano or Brian Duensing for the 5th spot, with the loser heading to Rochester with Swarzak, and the headache of Glen Perkins in another city. Add in Kouzmanoff starting at third base over Brendan Harris or Joe Crede, and the team would have been in a much better position than they are today.
I have no problem with the Twins deciding not to bring back Joe Crede, but only if that decision is aided by a different acquisition. It would be inexcusable to go into the season with Nick Punto and Brendan Harris both starting, especially in an off-season where there were so many infield options early on.
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