Thursday, January 23, 2014

Why signing Nelson Cruz would make sense for the Tigers - and why it doesn't at all

If you listed the top "Rules of Thumb," the notion, "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is," ranks near the top. Such is the idea of former Texas Ranger outfielder Nelson Cruz becoming a Detroit Tiger.
The first idea of this among many Tigers' fan is, understandably, "Great."
Cruz ripped up the Tigers in the 2011 American League Championship Series, hitting six home runs, including turning around a 100 mph heater from Justin Verlander. He showed this incredibly strong arm from right field. Hey, if there is any town that believes Cruz is a great player, it's this one.
Nelson Cruz: Looking for a team
But he hasn't been overall. He is going to play at 33 in '14, an age when players start leaving their prime. There are signs his speed and defense are going downward. Cruz's WAR, which put his defense and running the bases into the equation, has dwindled significantly the last three years, and is difficult to ignore. Cruz is a one-dimensional, right-handed power hitter at this point. He has had a high slugging percentage the last few years, which has elevated his OPS, but he strikes out a ton, doesn't walk that much, but runs into a significant number of balls for home runs.
The Tigers need power - period - but they need left-handed power far more. If Cruz were to play every day, say in left field, the Tigers' regular lineup against right-handed pitching would only have two left-handed hitters, catcher Alex Avila and DH Victor Martinez.
Oh, and Cruz was suspended 50 games last year as part of the Biogenesis scandal, which can't but lead to legitimate questions about where that power has been generated.
Cruz wants a two-year deal and big money. Nobody is biting. My educated guess the price would have to drop down to the bargain basement rate before the Tigers would consider signing Cruz.


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