Nelson Cruz: Trying To Project What His Bat Will Be In Seattle

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So, the Seattle Mariners finally added their right-handed power bat. With the news that the team has agreed to a four-year deal with Nelson Cruz worth $58 million, the club seems on paper, to be in a prime position to contend for a playoff spot in 2015.

And why not? This past season, the Mariners missed the playoffs by one game – without Cruz.

With the recent trade by the Oakland A’s that sent Josh Donaldson to Toronto, the A’s appear to be taking a step back in 2015 – despite signing Billy Butler. The Angels are another year older (Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton aren’t spring chickens) but they still have one of the best baseball players on the planet (Mike Trout) and some decent starting pitching.

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The Astros are a team that intends to contend in the near future. But nothing they have done this offseason suggests that they will in 2015. The Rangers presumably get Prince Fielder and another half of their team back from various injuries. They should do better than their 2015 record.

So the signs do point to Seattle being able to make a run at this thing this year. So does Cruz get them there?

From the very beginning of the offseason, I have bounced back and forth as to whether or not the Mariners should sign Cruz. I recognized that the team needed to do something, but I didn’t like the five years and dollar amount that was being floated around.

Why?

Because he is 34-years old and just completed his best season in his 10-year Major League career (in a contract year where he desperately wanted to prove himself after sitting out most of the offseason last year unsigned). Because he was busted for PED use and suspended in 2013. Because he has only played in more than 128 games in a season, twice. Because a four-year guaranteed money contract to a 34-year old is a bigger crap shoot than rolling snake eyes.

But, now that he is in Seattle, what should we expect? Let’s take a look at Cruz’s career averages at the ballparks he will be visiting in 2015 and see if we can project anything.

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The first thing I see here is a bit disturbing. In the three ballparks where Cruz will play 100 of his games in 2015 (Safeco, O.Co, Angel Stadium) Cruz is a career .212 hitter with 24 homers in 159 games.

Those numbers don’t exactly get me excited. But if we take an average of his career stats at the ballparks he will play at in 2015 and plug them into the 2015 schedule, we can get a rough picture of what Cruz would be able to do this season. Here are the stats:

.245 avg, 143 H, 584 AB, 72 R, 32 2B, 28 HR, 76 RBI

So what do you think Mariners fans? Is that worth $14.25 million?

These numbers far exceed the output from the DH spot in the Mariners lineup in 2014. That line looked like this:

.190/.266/.301, 58 R, 16 2B, 15 HR, 50 RBI

Only time will tell if this ends up being worth it or not. I am of the opinion that the team still needs to do more. They need to add one more bat (1B or OF) and then add a starting pitcher.

They could really make a statement by going for Max Scherzer, but it seems unlikely at this point. Chances are the club will try for a Brandon McCarthy or Jason Hammel type pitcher. Or perhaps if they sign another bat (Melky Cabrera?) they go for an arm via trade using Michael Saunders and Roenis Elias as bait. Perhaps, go get Mat Latos, Ian Kennedy or another available arm.

But for now, Mariners fans can breath a sigh of relief. They got their big bopper to wedge between Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager for the next four years.

Let’s just hope that this is A move, not THE move.

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