The History of Nelson Cruz | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

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The History of Nelson Cruz

By on October 19, 2011

With Nelson Cruz about to start for the Texas Rangers in Game One of the World Series, I figured it would be worth it to post this reminder of Nelson Cruz’s wildly twisting road to the Major Leagues.

Upon seeing former Brewers farmhand Nelson Cruz rake in the playoffs – he’s hitting .371 with 4 HRs – it’s easy to turn around and criticize the Brewers for trading him away. Cruz was a part of the Carlos Lee trade that brought in Francisco Cordero, Kevin Mench, and Laynce Nix – not exactly a shining moment in Brewers history – but when we look at Nelson Cruz’s career path, it will perhaps shed some light on why Cruz was included in that deal.

All transaction data taken from Cruz’s SBNation player page. All minor/major league stats from Baseball-Reference

- 2/17
Signed as an undrafted free agent by the New York Mets
- No minors data available; played in Dominican leagues until 2000

- 8/30
Traded from the New York Mets to the Oakland Athletics for IF Jorge Velandia

- Minors: RK
23 G, .250/.283/.409

- Minors: A-
63 G, .276/.316/.397

- Minors: A
119 G, .238/.292/.430

- Minors: A+
66 G, .345/.407/.582
- Minors: AA
67 G, .313/.377/.542
- Minors: AAA
4 G, .231/.286/.538
- 10/15
Contract purchased by Oakland Athletics
- 12/15
Traded by Oakland Athletics with P Justin Lehr to the Milwaukee Brewers for IF Keith Ginter

- 3/18
Optioned to AAA Nashville
- Minors: AAA
60 G, .269/.382/.490
- Minors: AA
68 G, .306/.388/.577
- 8/17
Recalled by MLB Milwaukee
- Majors
8 G, .200/.429/.400

- 3/25
Optioned to AAA Nashville
- Minors: AAA
104 G, .302/.378/.528
- 7/28
Recalled to MLB Milwaukee
Traded by Milwaukee Brewers with OF Carlos Lee to Texas Rangers for RP Francisco Cordero, OF Kevin Mench, OF Laynce Nix, P Julian Cordero.
- Majors
41 G: .223/.261/.385

- Majors
96 G: .235/.287/.384
- 7/5
Optioned to AAA Oklahoma
- Minors: AAA
44 G, .352/.428/.698

Designated for assignment by Texas Rangers
Clears waivers, outrighted to AAA Oklahoma
- Minors: AAA
103 G, .342/.429/.695
- 8/25
Contract purchased by Texas Rangers
- Majors
31 G, .331/.421/.609

- 7/14
Plays in MLB All-Star Game
- Majors
128 G, .260/.332/.524

- Majors
108 G, .318/.374/.576
- 10/6
Appears in first career playoff game, homers off David Price

Obviously, it’s disappointing that Nelson Cruz is doing this for a team other than the Brewers, but two other teams have traded him for a much lower return and the Rangers exposed him to all 30 teams in 2008. Cruz’s total lack of big league performance through age 27 was worrisome for the Rangers and apparently the rest of the league shared that sentiment. Hindsight is 20/20, and now we see Cruz as one of the better slugging outfielders in the MLB. However, we’re not that far removed from the thought of Cruz as the quintessential AAAA player. It’s really not fair to put blame on the Brewers front office for including him in the Carlos Lee trade after the fact – there’s certainly an argument to be made that it was a poor choice, but using his MLB stats from 2008 on to prove that is fallacious.

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Tell us what do you think.

  1. Michael says: October 20, 2010

    I wasn’t happy at the time that they traded Cruz, but it’s not like he was immediately great as you pointed out. He continued to struggle and really looked like a bust.

    That trade wasn’t all that bad though. The Brewers got two compensation picks for Cordero just like they would have for Lee. If memory serves, Odorizzi was the supplemental first rounder.

  2. Lucas says: October 22, 2010

    While i understand this line of thinking (and we see it all too often, specifically in more Melvin apologist type pieces), isn’t the results of the players performance for the acquiring team exactly how we should rate trades? I mean at the time the Teixiera deal didn’t seem horrific for Atlanta, but it’s turning out that it certainly seems to be.

    Now that doesn’t mean that Melvin wasn’t justified in trading Cruz, specifically based on what the Brewers and the league thought of him at the time. But I think that Nelson Cruz in 2006 had the potential to be Nelson Cruz 2008-2010, and someone could/should have recognized that in the Brewers organization. When it is your job to do that, then you’ve failed. Claiming that the “rest of the league” failed as well, doesn’t mean it isn’t a failure for the Brewers.

  3. chris says: October 22, 2010

    The fact that these teams determined he wasn’t any good based on roughly 170 games in the majors shows just how trigger-happy a lot of teams are. His success in the high minors – (his strong obp and slugging % – not his avg, which is much less indicative of offensive performance) should have bought him a much longer leash. This type of thing happens over and over in MLB. Impatience often leads to stupidity.

  4. Danny says: October 23, 2010

    If there is one team that has showed any faith in the guy, it is the Rangers. They deserve Cruz’s best years.

  5. Pat Simons says: October 23, 2010

    Does Don Money have any chance to manage the Brewers next year.


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