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Building a Champion: Joe Crede

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Part of a series

It was suggested that I start off with Joe Crede, because he is the Sox player who has been in the organization the longest. While that's not true, Frank has been around since the first Bush administration, I liked the idea. So from here on in, I'm going to go by date each player joined the organization.

Crede was drafted in the 5th round out of Fatima High School in Westphalia, Missouri in 1996. He was originally drafted as a shortstop. He moved to third to make room for the White Sox shortstop of the future, Jason Dellaero, who was getting the reps at short while the two shared the same teams in the minors. During this season's World Series run, Crede credited Dellaero for teaching him his defensive style. -- In 1998 and 2000, Crede won Carolina and Southern League MVP awards, respectively. The season in between those he was hampered by an injury (foot or ankle, as I recall). From 1998 to 2002 Crede fluctuated between somewhere in the bottom half of BA's top 100 prospects to as high as one of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball.

The 2000 AL Central Division champion White Sox featured a third base by committee. Herbert Perry (.308/.356/.483) received most of the playing time, but Paul Konerko (7 games, .298/.363/.481), Tony Graffanino (12 games, .270/.363/.358), and Greg Norton (47 games, 244/.333/.373) all received playing time there. The 2001 team saw Perry, Graffanino, and Jose Valentin splitting duties. The Sox were reluctant to shop for a "real" third baseman because they had Crede waiting in the wings. Valentin was again the everyday third baseman in 2002 until the Sox finally grew tired of Royce Clayton. Royce 'the choice' was benched, Valentin moved back to his natural shortstop, and Crede was given the starting job. In those final 2+ months, Crede showed why he was considered a great prospect, batting .285/.311/.515 with 12 HR in just 200 ABs.

The next two seasons would not be so kind to Crede. He batted just .261/.308/.433 and .239/.299/.418 while playing what I considered average defense. In 2005, however, I thought he played a gold glove caliber defense for much of the year, making his low OBP somewhat bearable.

Joe reaches his first year of arbitration eligibility this off-season. The Sox don't like to take their players to arbitration, so look for him to get a 1 year deal. If he can prove to be more consistent with the bat in 2006, while still flashing gold glove leather, he will get his long term deal after next season.

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2005 Season Highlights: No batting gloves HR (I love the announcers call on this one) | Indians walkoff (JOOOOEEE CREDE! This one may have saved the season)

2005 Post Season Highlights: Game 2 ALCS walkoff | Game 5 ALCS game winner | World Series Game 1: HR & defense