Friday, January 11, 2019
Cruz-in' for a Bruzin'
C.J. Cron and Jonathan Schoop were nice pickups for the Twins, adding much needed power to a lineup that has lagged behind the rest of the league in that department. Adding Nelson Cruz to the mix makes the Twins' lineup dangerous! Cruz signed a free agent deal for one season (and an option for a 2nd year).
Cruz made his MLB debut with Milwaukee (playing just 8 games), but he had already been with two other organizations before that. He was signed by the Mets as an amateur free agent, traded to Oakland, then to Milwaukee in exchange for Keith Ginter. After his cup of coffee with the Brewers, Cruz was sent to Texas and after 3 seasons up and down from the minors, found regular playing time in RF. When he played his first full season at 28 years old, Cruz proved that he belonged, hitting 33 homers and stealing 20 bases.
In the 10 seasons since, he's hit at least 22 homers per year. A PED suspension hurt his stock in free agency, but he signed a one year deal with the Orioles and proved that his power was not aided by illegal substances anymore- he hit a career high 40 homers and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting. As he's aged, his power has remained while his defense and speed on the bases has diminished. He leads all of baseball with 203 homers since 2014, and has hit 35+ every year during that span.
Cruz will be 38 years old in 2019, so there's reason to be skeptical of what he might bring to the table. But having seen the way he's absolutely raked in Target Field as an opponent over the last 8 years, I'm very happy he's going to be doing his damage in a Twins uni for 2019. I'm hoping for a similar performance that Jim Thome had when he came to Minnesota in 2010- 25 homers and a stabilizing veteran presence in the middle of the order.