The Boomstick Era
Finishing up? Or Finished?

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If you've seen period pieces from the Elizabethan era, you've probably seen actresses with skin of porcelain white.  The way they do this nowadays, for onscreen marble finishing, I couldn't tell ya.  But back then, they tell you that the most common way to achieve the look with 'Venetian Cruse' - a concoction of vinegar and lead that left their faces looking like gleaming toilet procelain bowls.

How Mickey Mantle used to hit the ball 620 feet onto passing turnip trucks, we haven't a clue, but how Nelson Cruz obtained the #3 exit velo in MLB is simple enough:  he swings the bat so hard they feel the breeze in the left-center bullpen.

He's hitting .265/.351/.532 for the season, his typical 144 OPS+, and his first/second half splits are .267/.363/.538 first versus .261/.330./521 for the second.

.....

Greg Johns raises a painful question in his latest inbox:

The Mariners would love to bring their big designated hitter back on a new deal now that his four-year, $56 million contract is expiring, but that issue won't likely be settled until the season ends. It always needs to be remembered that players have a choice in these situations -- it's not simply a matter of their team wanting to keep them.

Though Cruz hasn't talked publicly about his future plans, it's fair to assume he'll want to see what options are available. Cruz likes Seattle, but that doesn't mean he won't want to see if other teams are interested. At 38, he has to know this next contract likely will be his last and he'll want both the most years and money, but also the best chance to win a World Series title.

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So Johns casts the debate not in terms of whether the M's want to give a 39-year-old DH two or three years at $16-18M (?? Your guess is as good as mine as to the numbers -- but whether Cruz would want to shop that around and try to find a better shot at a ring someplace.

Classic bring-a-knife-to-a-gunfight problem.  If we thought our offense sputtered in 2018 -- and they were 26th in OPS+ the second half -- imagine it without Cruz.

Mo' Dawg has reminded us a few times that Cruz is an outlier in the absolute sense, like David Ortiz was, and I'm not  sure there are any signs of his slowing at all.  As Bill James said in a similar situation (Nolan Ryan's) "common sense tells us to let him find his own limits."

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It's not like the M's core situation is as bleak as it has been at times in the past.  There's Mitch Haniger hitting #3 ;- ) if not #1.  There's Jean Segura.  There's Zeus, a 50-save Great White Whale, and a 47-save Great White Whale behind him.  There's Robby OBP'ing in the top 20 for probably several more years.  You know how the Mainframe feels about Marco Gonzales as a #3-4 starter if not actually even a #2, especially if that changeup contues to find a bit more of a parachute. 

There is actually a fairly robust payroll to back it all up.  There are assets; the real question is really whether Jerry Dipoto can Civic his "floor" around his Stars the way Billy Beane can.

My question here is a simple one.  I honestly have no feel for where the Denizens fall on the Boomstick question.  And the straw poll sez?

BABVA,

Dr D

Comments

1

if he (justifiably, and probably correctly) demands market rate for his last four years' production on a 3-4 year deal.  We've already got Robbie on an albatross-in-the-making contract, and personally I'd rather keep the powder dry for a Harper, Machado, or the like rather than on Cruz.  With Cruz, you're hoping he doesn't decline very soon.  With Harper, you're hoping he stabilizes your core roster for the next half decade or more.  If you're going to take a potentially roster-crippling risk, better to do it BIG in my opinion.

Then again, I'd probably blow the whole thing up and start over with a relatively clean slate.

2

I'm with you Doc, I'm not seeing any signs of slowing down much....but I am afraid that we might in yeat 2 or 3.  That said, unless we trade away Kyle Lewis and Evan White, we're not going to get a top-flite arm unless we invest the Cruz dollars in one.  

Cruz on a one-year deal I could understand, as we would have a boatload of cash after Felix clears the deck next September.  All the same, I think I would buy an arm now.

3

Would hate to lose him, but I assume we will for reason Johns speculated on so I’m resigned. I see no reason why Cruz thinks we’ll win a World Series if I don’t think we will. He knows nothing in that regard I don’t know that suggests otherwise.

We’ll stumble into one eventually. Wake me when it happens.

5
tjm's picture

More dollars, fewer years. I might even do something stupid like $20 million with a mutual option for a second year. You're not going to find anyone to replace him for less. That said, I'm all in on Harper.

6

Couldn't agree more: pay him well enough to convince him to sign for two years, not three. I would like any deal up to 2 x 20, but I'd groan at 3 x 15 and puke at 4 x anything. My logic is:

  • He is in fact on the decline, statistically. Fangraphs WAR totals since we signed him in 2015: 5.0 - 4.3 - 3.9 - 3.0 (that's this year). So he's losing 2/3 of a win per season as he ages so far. That has him at 2.3 next year, and 1.6 the next. At 2 x 20, that's market value. Anything cheaper (x18 or x16) is a good deal.
  • Of course that assumes a steady decline. I figure it's a safe bet. He passes the eye test this year, same old Boomstick. Doesn't look like a guy who's in imminent danger of falling below critical mass and hemorrhaging more than 2/3 of a win next year.
  • His batting line is trending down, but fairly stable. wRC+ is at 158 - 148 - 148 - 141 since 2015. Looks good to be at 130+ next year.
  • I think the real variability is his health. If he plays our last 11 games and gets 4 ABs per game, he'll still have lost about 50 ABs from last season. And hobbled through a bunch of others, which certainly hasn't helped his numbers. He's got steroids and the DH slot on his side, but he is starting to wear down a bit. He can't play the field in NL games, and he can't (shouldn't) play through injury forever. Which, hey, more DH slot days for Robby.
  • The real problem is in year three, you run a serious risk of either natural decline (the 2/3 WAR reduction has him at about 1 win in year 3) or critical mass of aging/injuries causing you to massively overpay for a pretty mediocre DH who you're still obligated to play for half the season even if he's costing you games.
  • On the other hand, there is an upside scenario where Nelson is a bit less injured next year and his wRC+ stays stable, and he nets you 3.5 wins on something of a bargain deal. Seems like a fair bet to make, in terms of risk/reward.
10

This team isn't worth caring about, so why should it matter where Cruz goes.

11

If I were Mr. Harper, Bryce Harper’s Dad, I would counsel him to play the FA market, but sign with the Nationals. Do not make ARod’s mistake, and become a baseball mercenary.

ARod is a man with out a country. He could have been rich AND loved by a city and its fan base. Instead, he played for three cities: one despises him, the other two barely give him a second thought.

Harper can be the Edgar Martinez/Joe DiMaggio/Ted Williams of the Nationals for the rest of his life.

As Mr. Griffey told his own kid: no one will treat you better than your first team. Junior made a calculated chance by going to Cincinnati. But he’s loved by Seattle, because the city understood it wasn’t for the money that he left.

Finally, if we did sign Harper, I would wake up because we would have to outbid Washington to do so. The Yankees let Cano go. They decided it wasn’t worth the money to keep him. The Nats will pull out all the stops to keep Bryce. If we signed him, it would be a true sign we are serious.

But I think he’s better off staying in DC.

12
Nathan H's picture

Nope.  If you can't win the pennant with the guys you have now, what's the use of trying with the same guys age-shifted by one year?

Love the guy but let him walk. Significant change needs to take place.

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