Tuesday, November 27, 2018

On C.J. Cron

The Twins picked up C.J. Cron on waivers Monday. I am not impressed.

There is an obvious attraction to a player who hits 30 homers, which is what Cron did last season for Tampa Bay. Thirty bombs is more than anybody on the Twins hit in 2018. Cron had 59 extra-base hits; nobody on the 2018 Twins did that either. Power is an important tool, and Cron has it.

The problem is, that's pretty much all Cron has going for him. He is one-dimensional. He's a right-handed hitter who is limited afield to first base and winds up getting his at-bats as a designated hitter. He sports atrocious walk-to-strikeout rates. He's not (yet) on the wrong side of 30 (turns 29 in January), but he's not young enough to carry any sense of projection.

This is his prime time. He hit 30 homers last year, and the Rays responded by casting him aside. We can do better. 

There's something else that designating Cron for assignment and then waiving him tells us: There was no trade market. None of the other 29 teams (including the Twins)  was willing to give the Rays anything beyond the $50,000 waiver fee for him.

Something Alex Cora, the Red Sox manager, said during the World Series has been resonating with me for a few weeks:

"We live in an era that hitting .210 with 30 homers and 70 RBI is acceptable and it's a good season. We don't believe that."
Cron hit better than that -- .253 with 30 homers and 74 RBIs -- but he's the kind of player Cora was talking about.

Of course, adding Cron doesn't come in a vacuum. Joe Mauer -- pretty much Cron's opposite as a hitter -- isn't going to be the Twins first baseman next season. Kennys Vargas is gone to Japan.

First base in Minnesota is available. Cron may be the front-runner, but there isn't much difference  between him and Tyler Austin other than that Cron is about 30 months older and has more than five times the major league at-bats.

Invest 500 at-bats in Austin, and he'll hit 30 homers too. But I won't guarantee that he'll do enough other things to make him a better player than Cron.

The Rays figure they have better ways to use the roster spot and $5 million (a reasonable projection of the arbitration-eligible Cron's salary for 2018). I would like to think the Twins do as well.

No comments:

Post a Comment