Nelson Cruz: Better Than Advertised But M’s Still Need Help

Mariners Struggling, Montero Could Be Answer

I can’t say enough good things about Nelson Cruz a month into his Seattle Mariners mega-contract.  Cruz has been everything advertised, and more.

Before the 2015 campaign for the M’s got underway I stated, quite emphatically, that I’d be thrilled if Cruz hit just 25 homers on the year.  It turns out the Cruz might just hit 25 by the All-Star break.

Where in the world would the M's be without Nelson Cruz right now?

Where in the world would the M’s be without Nelson Cruz right now?

Cruz has mashed 14 homers already and we are just barely into May.  I suppose it’s fool-hardy to think that Cruz can maintain this kind of torrid, power pace but it’s entirely possible he could be the first player in nearly 20 years to hit 40 homers while wearing Mariner blue and teal.

The praise doesn’t stop for Cruz with his power either.  Cruz is maintaining a batting average well above .300 which is a huge surprise.  I would have been thrilled with .270.

Cruz has been quite remarkable as an outfielder as well.  Most, including me, figured Cruz to be a nearly full time DH.  He was for the first week or so of the season but since then he’s been the regular guy in right field and a guy that has flashed a lot of leather around in the process.

So, if Cruz can play this well in the outfield with just an occasional day off to rest who am I to argue?

Move’s I’d Like To See

Having Cruz in right more often than not also opens the door to some other moves, moves that the M’s likely need to make despite Cruz’s individual success.  After all, the M’s are a team floundering below the .500 mark and changes are clearly indicated for them to get out of it.

The shortstop position is Chris Taylor's to lose now.

The shortstop position is Chris Taylor’s to lose now.

Some changes have been made already and I like the Taylor change, for instance.  Chris Taylor is better defensively at shortstop than Brad Miller.  I think he’ll also be more consistent at the plate as well.

Miller claims to be “frustrated” by his new role as a utility guy but also says he’s a pro and will give it his all.  I understand his frustration.  He’s human after all but I do think he can be successful as a guy who plays in the outfield and infield regularly.

Seth Smith seem to be the most common name penciled in at DH these days.  I like Smith but I’d rather see him play in the outfield than DH.  Justin Ruggiano is seeing time at center in the absence of Austin Jackson while Dustin Ackley continues to flounder, without end, in left.

Here’s a thought– Why don’t we let Smith play left?  He’s certainly capable.  Ruggiano is the best the M’s can do defensively at center until Jackson gets back so that leaves Ackley on the bench, where we belongs.

Do you need  proof Ackley belongs on the bench?  How about a season average of .000 with runners in scoring position?

I’ve seen enough of Ackley.  He just can’t keep it together consistently.  I’m sure he’ll have another spurt here in the coming weeks that will convince people he’s finally over the hump but I’m not buying it this time.  It’s time to see what, if anything, the trade market will give up for Ackley.

So, if Ackley is on his way out and Smith is in left, the options become even more diluted for the regular DH role.  I’m not sure I want to see Willie Bloomquist DH’ing.  Besides, what is Willie still doing here if Miller is now a utility guy along with Rickie Weeks?  The M’s certainly don’t need three utlity guys like Weeks, Miller, and Bloomquist.

Sorry, Rickie.  I like your style, attitude and versatility but you are just one too many utility guys.  I’ll stick with the righty Bloomquist and the lefty Miller on the bench and just let you go.

With a theoretical open spot on the roster I think it’s time to address that DH role.  Jesus Montero, here’s your shot and I think he’s earned another shot.

Montero shed 40+lbs during the offseason, got himself a new, positive attitude and all he’s done at AAA Tacoma with that fresh start is hit, hit and hit some more.  For the season at AAA Montero is now batting .304 with three homers, five doubles and 16 RBIs.

Seriously?  Who is this guy?  Montero doesn't look like Montero anymore sans 40 pounds.

Seriously? Who is this guy? Montero doesn’t look like Montero anymore sans 40 pounds.

Give the Ice Cream Man his second chance.  He’s earned it.  Besides, how good does this lineup look?

  1. L Seth Smith  LF
  2. R Justin Ruggiano  CF
  3. L Robinson Cano  2B
  4. R Nelson Cruz  RF
  5. L Kyle Seager  3B
  6. S Jesus Montero  DH
  7. L Logan Morrison  1B
  8. R Mike Zunino  C
  9. R Chris Taylor  SS

Montero as a DH and as a guy who can backup Morrison at first is a great fit for this guy right now, and for this team.

Who do you want to see DH’ing or playing at first when LoMo needs a day off?  Miller, Bloomquist or Montero? 

I’ll take Montero thank you, everyday of the week that ends in a “y”.


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About Brian Scott

Husband, Philosopher, Animal Rights Advocate, and Author Brian is a Spokane native and Gonzaga University grad. Seahawks, Mariners, GU Hoops and Cougar football are the teams that drive his passion for sports. You can catch him on twitter too! Connect with Brian today!
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