Did the Baltimore Orioles make a mistake in letting Cruz go?
The only thing that we can definitively say right now is that Nelson Cruz will not be playing for the Baltimore Orioles in 2015 and onward. Yesterday he finalized a four-year, $58 million contract with Seattle, which will be his home moving forward. There’s been a lot of debate around Birdland as to what the O’s should do about Cruz, but now we know where he will – and won’t – be next year. So what say you? Did the Orioles just make a big mistake?
I think it matters where you stand on the team and it’s direction. If you’re the type of fan who doesn’t care how much the players cost, how long the deals are, etc, odds are you’re probably pretty ticked that the O’s allowed Cruz to get away. Your mindset would be that it doesn’t matter how much the players cost, just get or keep them here.
However if you’re a bit more cerebral, you might take a different view in that everything has a price. For sure, Cruz is getting a big raise year-over-year;
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his annual salary in Seattle will come out to $14.5 million, as opposed to $8 million in Baltimore. However the question is whether or not Cruz at $14.5 million would have been as good a deal as Cruz at $8 million. I would say that given the fact that his production would be the same, it would still be a good deal for the Orioles.
So I’m saying that they shouldn’t have let him go, right? There’s nobody in Birdland that’s happy Cruz is gone – writers, or fans. However consider the fact that by the end of that contract, Cruz is going to be 38 years old. The Orioles’ issue wasn’t so much the salary as it was the term of the contract. Cruz is worth every penny of what he signed for, however he wanted a four-year deal; the O’s wanted a three-year deal. Perhaps one might ask himself why that one year makes a difference. Perhaps it doesn’t – but is a 37 or 38-year old Cruz going to be hitting 40 homers a year and leading the big leagues?
Seattle certainly hopes so, needless to say. And for Cruz’s sake, I hope he does as well. But let’s further analyze this from Seattle’s perspective. Over the past three years, Cruz has hit .194 at Seattle’s Safeco Field, with two home runs (over 72 at-bats). He’s also hit .167 at Oakland’s Coliseum, with three home runs (over 66 at-bats). Obviously Safeco Field will be his new home park, and Oakland will be a park he visits nine times a year.
Those numbers would have stood out at me had I been Seattle’s management. I suspect that they did exactly what Cruz and his agent were hoping someone would do; they based their deal on 2014’s numbers. However keep this in mind as well; the numbers I gave above were over a three-year period. So two of those three years were with Texas and the last was with the Orioles. The point is that Cruz was formerly in the AL West, and played a great deal in each of those parks. So those numbers are based on a decent number of games.
I don’t feel that Cruz will be a dud in Seattle, however whether or not he puts up 2014 numbers remains to be seen. Safeco Field is one of the ultimate pitcher’s parks in baseball, similar to Kansas City and Oakland. However at the end of the day, the fact is that he’ll be out of Baltimore. The Orioles now have to work on replacing him.