Addressing the Inevitable: Life Without the Boomstick
By Stevil, October 14th, 2017
|Nelson Cruz on a typical day sharing an ice bath with a fan. Photo still from T-Mobile.|
Nelson Cruz has been the lifeblood of the Seattle Mariners' offense. At age 37, he still put up elite numbers and remains one of MLB's leaders in most power statistics. He's under contract for one more season and an extension would seem likely. But at some point, Seattle will have to move on as this superhero fades away and I believe I know how this will go down about 3 years from now...
Robinson Canó went through the better part of 2017 banged up and it showed in his fielding as much or more than it did at the plate, though he was still damn good. Many fans would like to see him moved to 1B, where the grind would be considerably softer. This idea seems at least somewhat feasible, but getting a little more power from your first sacker would be more ideal. Personally, I would like to see them acquire Christian Walker and keep Canó right where he is for now, though the two could feasibly platoon 1st base. I'll try not to use feasible again in this post.
But at some point he will need to come off the field, and given that there are 6 years remaining on his contract, he's going to be around well past the Cruz era. So, why not slide him into the vacant DH spot at that point?
One of Seattle's biggest challenges moving forward will be finding affordable infielders to replace Seager and Canó (eventually, Segura as well), and there's virtually zero internal options at the moment. So, who might the Mariners be able to acquire to take over 2nd Base when Robinson sweeps his buddy Cruz out the door and into retirement with his broomstick? Yeah, couldn't resist the bad pun.
Well, perhaps Tyler Wade is the answer.
Wade has quietly been doing just about everything right in AAA, slashing .310/.382/.460 and his contact numbers are at respectable levels. He shows good control of the zone as well, rarely chasing outside pitches and drawing plenty of walks. He's also a LHH, which would bring some balance to Seattle's lineup in the future. His defense grades out about average, or slightly below average at SS, but he should fare much better at 2B. He's currently overshadowed by Torres and NY's current cast of middle-infielders already in place, though, and Solak is also getting considerable attention. He would arguably give the Yankees further depth up the middle while Torres is rehabbing, but at some point he's likely going to be the odd man out, so maybe moving him for an interesting reliever, such as Art Warren or Matthew Festa, would be beneficial for both clubs.
The temptation to target a middle-infielder in my offseason plan was strong, and Wade has been on my short-list of feasible (damn!) options. But I chose to ignore my instincts as Canó seems likely to stay at 2nd Base for now and I had Eric Sogard in my plan, which would push Taylor Motter into the immediate reserve role. Why the change now you ask? I got bored, so here I am proposing another deal with the Yankees, which is more or less an extension of the deal involving Ford, whom is yet another NY prospect likely to find true hair-freedom in the very near future. Think Ben Gamel isn't happy now? He has fit right in to the Rock 'n Roll capitol of the United States and has nobody blocking him from regular playing time. Ford may not have long hair--yet--but should have the right to choose. Let's not get sidetracked, though.
Seeing Cruz in assisted living ads and more mobile phone commercials is going to sting. But losing his power and presence in the lineup will hurt far more. Wade will solve that.
Kidding. The Mariners will need to find power elsewhere, possibly at 1B with Christian Walker, and eventually in the outfield with Kyle Lewis. Evan White could move to an outfield corner, or even CF, if the Mariners were to land Walker, so there's that.
If the Mariners were to really jump start a rebuild as realistically as is possible (forget moving Felix or Robbie's contract, folks), they could possibly move Kyle Seager to the Atlanta Braves (assuming they're still desperate for a 3rd baseman) and salary relief for a pitching prospect, perhaps Lucas Sims, then follow that up by trying to move Andrew Moore to Miami for Brian Anderson. The Marlins are likely stuck with Martín Prado and still have Derek Dietrich, as well as another solid 3B prospect in James Nelson. So, Anderson, who is ready now, or near-ready, should be available for pitching.
Life without the Boomstick. Yes, it's an unpleasant thought, and hopefully it's not an immediate reality. But with my formidable tutelage and focus without humor, the Mariners will have a solid cast to contend with whenever that day comes, making the transition as smooth as a Robbie-induced double play from his prime.
Thank you, and be sure to share this with your friends and family over the dinner table. This should take precedence over food and the standard daily routine jabber that nobody actually wants to hear. What I'm serving you is real nutrition and substance.