Crede Would Fill Low-Risk, High-Reward Factor

By: T.J. Zuppe

Typically, the Cleveland Indians have searched for the bargains of the proverbial garage sale. They search the newspaper, head to the flea market, looking for that ultimate deal, in a case of one man’s trash, being another man’s treasure.

In the past decade, they have hit on a few low-risk, high-reward players, including outfielder Marty Cordova, third-baseman Casey Blake and pitchers Scott Elarton, Bobby Howry and Kevin Millwood. In all situations, the Indians were able to sign for a minimum price and get maximum value.

The upside presented itself to the team in knowing if the players did not provide the spark hoped for, they lost little to anything from a financial factor. It is a true win-win scenario, one in which all medium-market teams subscribe to, in some way, shape or form.

Free-Agent Third-Baseman Joe Crede

One player that could fill that factor for the Tribe this season is current free-agent third-baseman, Joe Crede.

The 32-year old Crede announced through his agent Scott Boras, that he planned to make a full comeback in 2011. Boras also added that Crede was fully healthy, this via Scott Merkin of MLB.com.

Crede spent the entire 2010 season on the sidelines, mostly because of teams’ reluctance to believe he could contribute due to his uncertainty of overall health status.

Dating back to 2009, the third-baseman has been battling injuries on a regular basis, however he did contribute 15 home runs to the Minnesota Twins, in 333 at bats, flashing great leather in the field when he was able to get between the lines.

However, Crede has not played in at least 100 games since 2006 and over the last four seasons, he has only played in 234 games. Over that stretch, he hit a paltry .233, with 36 home runs and 125 runs batted in.

This could play right into the hands of a team like the Indians, who could use those numbers to their advantage. Instead of dropping top dollar on a free-agent, something the team has made it clear they will not be doing, the Tribe would be negotiating at their own price.

Joe Crede Looks to Make a Comeback in 2011

After all, when Crede was healthy with the Chicago White Sox, he was a former all-star and silver slugger award winner. He possessed above-average power and was very solid in the field, an area the Indians struggled in 2010.

If he is truly healthy entering 2011, he will have a great deal to prove and should be extremely motivated to earn a much better contract, something the Tribe could capitalize on.

This before turning the position over to former first round selection, Lonnie Chisenhall, who is still likely to be a season away from contribution, at the major league level.

And certainly, he presents a much better option at the hot corner than current incumbent Jayson Nix or newcomer Jack Hannahan.

At the right price, he fits the mold of the way the Indians love to do business and would provide a much-needed veteran presence in the team’s clubhouse. Not to mention, the signing of Crede would create a small bit of buzz for baseball hardcores in Cleveland.

Of course, this all hinges on Boras and Crede, as teams try to determine what the two would be looking for, in terms of contract numbers. (Boras, of course, not the easiest of all agents to negotiate with.)

However, if the newly motivated Crede and the Indians could find some common ground, it would be the ultimate case of low-risk, high-reward for every party involved.

Follow T.J. Zuppe on Twitter @TJZuppe

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