Thursday, January 3, 2019

Where they stand: Designated hitter

Presumed regular: Nelson Cruz

Others on 40: Pretty much any position player could be a DH, but the spirit of this is to identify possible Plan Bs. So I'll list Miguel Sano, C.J. Cron and Tyler Austin, assuming the latter isn't the playing coming off the roster to make room for Cruz.

Nonroster notables: Brent Rooker.

The Twins made the free agent signing of Cruz official Wednesday, although they have not yet announced who is coming off the 40-man roster for make room for the veteran slugger, saying they had been unable to reach the player to notify him.

Cruz is old -- turns 39 in July -- but he remains a elite slugger:

Some of those categories are self-explanatory, some are not. But even if I don't know what XWOBA means, it's pretty obvious that Cruz's dip in batting average last season masks the reality that he still hits the ball hard more often than almost anybody else in baseball -- and hitting the ball hard with frequency is a very good sign.

I don't take Rocco Baldelli's talk about giving Cruz some outfield time very seriously. He wasn't a good outfielder when he was young, and he ain't getting better with age.

The Twins on Wednesday made a point of extolling Cruz as a teammate and role model for younger Latin players (meaning Miguel Sano). Which, OK. I'm hesitant to embrace anybody who served a suspension for steroids as a great example, even if he never tested positive. (Cruz was tangled up in the Biogenesis scandal in 2013.)

Beyond that, I'm reminded of Crash Davis's retort in "Bull Durham" when the manager tells him why he's been assigned to this high A ball team: "You don't want a ballplayer, you want a stable pony." 

Nelson Cruz is here to hit taters and chew bubble gum, and he's fresh out of bubble gum. Anything else is a bonus.

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