Baltimore Orioles Sign Nelson Cruz; What Does It Mean for New York Yankees?
The New York Yankees have dominated this offseason. With the additions of Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian Roberts and Masahiro Tanaka, they have addressed every area of the team and head into 2014 in a much better position than they were in last year.
Recently, however, the Baltimore Orioles have made a splash in the free-agent market. First, they signed Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year, $50 million deal. Now, they’ve added slugging right fielder Nelson Cruz for one-year and $8 million.
With the emergence of the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 and the reemergence of the Boston Red Sox in 2013, the Yankees should be used to playing in a loaded division by now. Both Jimenez and Cruz are solid players and will no doubt improve an Orioles team that has recently been knocking on the door in October. Nevertheless, neither will be enough to put Baltimore over the top.
Jimenez was stellar for the first half of the season in 2010 and finished with a 19-8 record and a 2.88 ERA. Since that season, however, he’s been nothing special. In 2012, he led the Majors with 17 losses and posted a putrid 5.40 ERA. Though Cleveland Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway seemed to have fixed Jimenez at the end of last season (he went 4-0 with a 1.09 ERA in September), one good month doesn’t replace three years of mediocrity.
Cruz has had some big years with the Texas Rangers. From 2009 to 2012, for instance, he had four-straight seasons with at least 22 home runs and 76 RBIs. However, you have to wonder how much of that came as a result of PEDs. Melky Cabrera had a huge drop-off in offensive production after serving a PED suspension which doesn’t bode well for Cruz looking forward. Furthermore, in 40 career games against the Yankees, Cruz has batted .193/.311/.436 with nine home runs, 17 RBIs and 42 strikeouts.
Jimenez will be a solid No. 3 starter for Baltimore and Cruz could join Chris Davis in adding some pop in the middle of the batting order. Both players will make the Orioles better, but they’re nothing the Yankees can’t handle.