Orioles to take on Nelson Cruz. Phew.

The Birds of Baltimore look to run the final free agent table.  After they signed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, Major League Trade Rumor is announcing they are signing outfielder Nelson Cruz.  This comes on the heels of Jack Zdurencik’s announcement yesterday, that while the Mariners are still looking at free agent possibilities, they want to evaluate their own guys.

That’s good and bad news.  It’s good news because it means they won’t be carrying Cruz’s one note repertoire around with them for the next couple of years. Yes Cruz may hit some home runs, but the negatives he offered-strikes out a ton, low OBP, bad defender and clogger of base paths were problems.  According to twitter comments, there was a concern about his PED use and the switch to Safeco Field-usually Death Valley for right-handed power.

Though letting the Orioles, in their somewhat more hitter-friendly park, have Cruz, is a bit of a relief, it doesn’t mean the Mariners are out of the woods. The M’s still have trouble in the outfield.  Right now the names penciled into the competition for those jobs look something like this.

Yesterday Lloyd McClendon announced Dustin Ackley would play left field

He has Corey Hart was in for 145 games as a right fielder

That leaves center field for Michael Saunders.

However, the noises made by McClendon and Mariner management is that these positions are all open to competition.  The M’s have Abraham Almonte, Stephan Romero, and Xavier Nady chasing jobs on the big league club, though none have much major league experience, certainly not enough to show they are ready for the year-long slog that is a major league baseball season. That doesn’t mean all of them can’t do the job, but they haven’t shown that yet.

Ackley and Saunders have struggled at the plate.  Saunders especially has had problems with left handed pitching.  He’s also playing out of position in center.  Ackley didn’t show a lot as an outfielder last year, but hopefully he’s had an opportunity to work out there more during the offseason.  He has his own issues at the plate, that are yet unresolved.  Hart’s health and defense remain a problem.  Even if the M’s go with all three of these guys, depth has to be a concern.

Is this the time to play the Franklin card?




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