Jul 22, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz (17) hits a solo home run in front of New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart (19) during the seventh inning at the Rangers Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

Nelson Cruz Signs With Baltimore Orioles – Who Moved My Cheeze?


So the reports are flying on this Saturday morning that the Baltimore Orioles have struck a deal with Nelson Cruz for one year at $8 million. “Well, isn’t that special?” said the Church Lady.

There was a popular book out there entitled, “Who Moved My Cheeze?” that talked about keeping up with change. So, who moved my Orioles? Is there a new owner in Baltimore? Yoon … Jimenez … Cruz … are you kidding? Would you have believed this 10 days ago?

My initial take on this was not positive. Actually, I never truly considered it to be any sort of possibility. And I’m still sort of shaking from the reality that I’m reacting to another free agent signing – one that is more “out there” than the others.

So, there is the issue of the lost draft pick – the #55 overall selection. Since it cannot be known who that pick might have been and what would have become of the person that was never known, it is difficult to land with certainty on a definitive opinion. Honestly, the majority of high draft picks don’t work out over time, but those that do are the lifeblood of an organization. Even though I’m having a little bit of trouble recognizing the Orioles today since they don’t quite look like themselves, truly, the organization is not going to develop a Yankees-like pattern of throwing away draft choices.

Then there is the PED issue of Cruz’ 50-game suspension related to the Biogenesis affair. Unlike some other fellow whose name we’ll not mention, Cruz took the hit humbly and moved on. If there is such a thing as a redemptive environment of gracious but firm people in a clubhouse – speaking of both coaches and players – it is the Orioles’ as currently constituted under Buck’s shepherding. The Birds now have a couple of these projects – as in Troy Patton, and also Alfredo Aceves and anger management, etc., whatever. Maybe it is just who I am and what I do, but I like that about this organization – yet, a definite distraction who would see himself beyond accountability cannot be tolerated.

And then there is the issue of other players previously projected to play a role in left field and designated hitter. Other than David Lough, this knocks all of them down another rung … and at some point, it knocks them off the ladder. Lough is going to get the most time in LF, unless he plays himself out of it. His defense is stellar, and we know that is huge on this team; and he brings a different look than all the power hitters in the lineup. This cannot be a good day for Delmon Young, and I continue to wonder if there is 10x the bang for the 10x more dollars of Cruz over Young. Nolan Reimold has to also wonder if he is now playing this spring more for how he looks to another team. And Henry Urrutia might as well book his housing in Norfolk. It is my opinion that in five or six years, we will look back upon the intervening time as the great Urrutia years … so I hate to see him blocked in any way, though I understand the fundamentals upon which he needs “finishing off.”

And I have to wonder who Steve Pearce will be playing for this year. And if the Orioles knew a couple of days ago that this was a realistic possibility, why would they DFA Liam Hendriks rather than Pearce?

Yesterday I posted a Delmon Young / Kendrys Morales comparison article. The thought crossed my mind about including Nelson Cruz, which I rejected as not worth the effort. Silly me.

So, what is the more positive view of this signing? Well, it is one year – not locked into a bad deal if it all goes south. And at $8 million, it is not a bank buster, not even for the Orioles. There is no doubt that the Orioles are “going for it in the current window of opportunity.”  Of course, this could be read as The Warehouse gang giving up any possibility of signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis to long-term deals. But in any event, we can dispense with the mantra about the cheapo Orioles.

At age 33, there is no doubt that Cruz can bring a lot of pop in his bat. Skeptics may say that it was the product of the PEDs … a benefit that I do not fully believe is all that it is often thought to be – but that is a topic for another day. If Cruz can do in Baltimore what he did before the suspension, it is a significant DH upgrade. For his career, Cruz has hit .268/.327/.495 with 157 homers in 804 games.

To give a sense of what might be hoped for, let me post his numbers over the past two years as compared to the DH numbers for the Orioles. As you can see in this chart, his games played in 2013 are 43 fewer, but the total production is about the same …

Year

Name

G

AB

R

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BB

SO

BA

OBP

SLG

OPS

2012 Cruz

159

585

86

152

45

0

24

90

48

140

.260

.319

.460

.779

2013 Cruz

109

413

49

110

18

0

27

76

35

109

.266

.327

.506

.833

2012

O’s DHs

153

575

71

138

22

1

24

71

64

190

.240

.323

.407

.730

2013

O’s DHs

152

552

76

129

31

3

21

69

42

142

.234

.289

.415

.704

 

If nothing else, it is all very interesting and will make for lots of great stuff to watch and write and talk about… hopefully into October.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles Nelson Cruz

  • John

    Well, I say HOORAY!!! The O’s are finally shamed (by rumblings from the fan base) enough to squeeze a few shekels loose for serious upgrades to the rotation and DH and noe can compete, barring injury, in the tough AL East.

    I don’t think they will get Santana but what a coup THAT would be.

    Thank you O’s management for doing the right thing.

    • Randy Buchman

      John – I am happy to see you happy! Shekels! Yes! I was not as discouraged as you were, so my move toward greater pleasure was a shorter distance. I hope this works out, but I see potential dangers and problems everywhere. But that is the nature of a game where failing only 70% of the time makes one a star player.