Sometimes it feels like people in baseball circles are far too enamored with power. Certainly it is exciting when your big bat can crank one into the seats and drive in a few runs. Unfortunately, baseball is a long season and teams like the Mariners need players on base.
The Mariners hit a lot of home runs last season, but ultimately did not score a lot of runs. Funny how the numbers work that way sometimes.
What do the Mariners really get with Cruz? An older player that is coming off of a drug suspension and may struggle as a right-handed hitter in Safeco Field. Oh, and he won’t be cheap and doesn’t play great defense. And he’ll probably want multiple years.
How is this a good solution?
Admittedly, an outfield of Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders and Logan Morrison is not exactly compelling. Fans may be intrigued by Abraham Almonte and Stefen Romero, but the total package does not lead one to believe that the outfield will strike fear in opposing pitchers.
Is Cruz a definitive upgrade with all of his potential shortcomings? In a best-case scenario, he might be. However, baseball rarely delivers on those types of scenarios, particularly when it comes to free agent bats that are signed by the Seattle Mariners. This has a very Michael Morse feel to it.
Perhaps the Mariners feel like they must bring in any available veterans to sync with their signing of Robinson Cano to a massive deal. If the lineup has Cano protected by a couple of minor league players like Almonte and Romero, it might signal that the Mariners are not serious about winning.
And yet, Nelson Cruz does not seem to be a step in the right direction. He is a veteran with some past success, but the future is less than certain.
Could Cruz help this team? He could. Is he worth the cost? That is hard to imagine.