Cruz follows the money; Orioles lose his 40 homers


Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Nelson Cruz will take his bat to the American League Western Division next season. Photo: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Should I really be surprised Nelson Cruz is leaving for the Pacific Northwest, after his comments since the season ended have been full of sunshine about wanting to stay with the Baltimore Orioles?

His signing with Seattle today points to the notion that there is, more than likely, some union intimidation that goes into a player signing any given contract.

The agent is there to do what the player wants, but in the end, the player is under an understanding that he is beholden to take the higher offer regardless of what would make him happy. The higher number increases the average, ups the precedent, and helps the next player in line get more.

What few players have ever settled for less money to play where they wanted to most likely got some unpleasantness from several directions – union, fellow players, etc. I predict Cruz’s power numbers will suffer somewhat at Safeco, and that is not even going on out a limb. Nonetheless, he should protect Robinson Cano in the Mariners’ lineup pretty decently. He was a decent defensive player, but there’s a lot more outfield in Safeco Field than in Camden Yards.

Be prepared for something similar to happen with Nick Markakis.

Another disturbing development, this one last week, was the Orioles’ interviewing Jeff Manto to replace Jim Presley as hitting instructor. Manto joined the Orioles organization last season as coordinator of minor league hitting, and has been instrumental in the growth of Christian Walker and Dariel Alvarez as hitters in the Orioles system. He’s been the hitting coach for the Pirates (2006-’07) and White Sox (2012-’13). Manto played part of the 1995 season with the Orioles and has had a well-traveled career in several organizations.

All good so far. He’s gotten good grades, as this article will attest.

But after his interview, he was reported to say that although most people stress on-base percentage and the need to take pitches, that’s not how he would handle Adam Jones. Manto said any attempt to change Jones’ free-swinging ways would make him less productive, not more.

One hopes that doesn’t mean if Manto became the Orioles’ hitting coach, he’d have one set of rules for Jones, and another set of rules for the rest of the team. It is important to find out what makes each player tick. But only one, Markakis, has a knack for working the count.

The pitching took off in the second half last season when the pitchers started buying into Dave Wallace‘s approach as the new pitching coach. It would take any new coach some time before his teachings and methods took hold with the players. Manto has an interesting résumé, but if he would go on leaving high strikeout players to their own devices, why have a coach?