Some in the Seattle Mariners organization wanted Nelson Cruz before the 2014 season. Cruz was coming off a PED suspension and that likely played a major role in why the M’s didn’t sign him and the Baltimore Orioles took the chance on a one-year deal. In 2014 he hit .271 with 40 home runs. After a year removed from the PED talk, the Mariners got their man, signing “Boomstick” to a four-year contract.
Safeco Field has long been a wasteland for hitters and most sluggers don’t give Seattle much of a look in free agency. Nelly Cruz is singlehandedly trying to change that.
Since 2000, only one person has hit over 40 home runs in a full season at Safeco: Alex Rodriguez. He hit 41 in 2000; Richie Sexson hit 39 bombs in 2005. Cruz, after yet another home run on Friday night, sits at 32 home runs. He isn’t just hitting home runs as he is hitting .323 while slugging .600. Cruz isn’t doing all of this damage on the road either. In 54 home games, he has hit eight home runs and slashed .310/.389/.465. While those numbers pale in comparison to what he has done on the road, the spacious home park of the Mariners hasn’t completely squashed his power production.
Cruz turned 35 years old last month and has three years left on his contract. Can he keep hitting through the remainder of his contract? Probably not. What he is doing, having a career year, is truly remarkable considering he is playing half his games at Safeco.
The Mariners are a long shot to make the playoffs in 2015 after coming into the year with a lot of hype. They could be wasting a career year from Cruz and one would think they only have another year — maybe two — to take advantage of one of the best sluggers they’ve had in the past 15 years.
Expect the Mariners to make some big moves this off-season. General Manager Jack Zduriencik could be the first to go. The time is now for the M’s to compete for their first ever World Series title as Robinson Cano, Cruz and King Felix Hernandez aren’t getting any younger.