Mariners hope they've found their offense in Nelson Cruz
at 2:43pm by David Kroman
The Mariners' offense has been, oh, challenged for the last decade. And while Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager have bolstered their left-handed hitting slightly, Mariners’ right-handed hitters are the worst since the 1988 Pittsburgh Pirates. The team has not had a consistent right-handed hitter since Edgar Martinez retired in 2004, since then hosting a carousel of power hitters like Richie Sexson, Michael Morse and Corey Hart, none of whom has worked out.
Last year was the most promising year since 2003 for the Mariners as they fell one game short of the playoffs. General Manager Jack Zduriencik proved today that he means to capitalize on last year’s success by signing right-handed power hitter Nelson Cruz to a four-year $57 million contract, reports ESPN. Cruz played with the Orioles last year and hit an impressive 40 home runs while driving in 108 RBIs.
Reports suggest the Mariners were close to signing Cruz last year, but that management nixed the deal amid doubts that he’d recover after being suspended for use of performance-enhancing drugs. His power was also questioned because of his long career in Texas, a famously friendly ballpark for hitters. However, his success on the road last year appeared to show that he’s able to hit anywhere. At least, that’s what the Mariners are hoping, as Safeco Field is notoriously hard on hitters.
There will be skeptics who think he’s too old and too expensive, concerns that could very well be true. But in this massive right-handed drought, the Mariners — and their diminishing fan base — are willing to try anything. — D.K.