Baltimore Orioles State Of The Union Spring 2014 Part 1: The Lineup Now With Cruz Added

By Nicholas Delahanty (MLB Reports O’s Writer)  

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Nelson Cruz Signs with Baltimore

It has been a very busy week for the Orioles as Spring Training gets started, as the team is set to announce the signing of Nelson Cruz to a one-year, $8 MM contract.

Earlier in the week, I wrote about guys the Orioles could target to help bolster their lineup, and Cruz seemed to be the most logical fit.

Nelson Cruz agreed to a one-year, $8 MM deal with the Baltimore Orioles. Cruz adds a right handed power bat to the lineup, and looks to add protection for other guys in the lineup as Baltimore’s every day.  Cruz can increase his demand for the 2015 Free Agent with a big campaign.

Cruz adds a powerful right-handed hitting bat into the middle of the Orioles lineup, providing protection for guys such as Chris Davis.

It also allows manager Buck Showalter to split up the left-handed hitters in his lineup, creating a match up nightmare for other managers throughout a game.

Along with what Cruz can bring to the Orioles lineup, he also is a veteran presence with a great track record in the playoffs.

In seven career playoff series, Cruz holds a .278 Batting Average with 14 HRs and 27 RBIs in 137 PA.

For a team looking to go deep into the playoffs, ge is a perfect fit, as he adds a lot to a team looking to compete in a very tough division.

Cruz will most likely be the Designated Hitter for most of the season, but he can play the outfield if needed.

What Should the Orioles’ Lineup Be?

Chris Davis and Matt Wieters benefit from having Nelson Cruz in the lineup. Cruz will most likely hit between them, setting up a lineup mix, giving opposing managers a rough time trying to mix and match against them.  If you trace it back to the top of the lineup, it could be  L – R all the way down 1 – 9

As the Orioles made a few big moves this week, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun took a look at what he thought the lineup will look like on Opening Day.

I took it literally when he asked at the end of his article about what our projected lineup would look like, so I took a shot at making the best possible lineup.

Lineup:

David Lough- LF

Manny Machado- 3B

Chris Davis- 1B

Nelson Cruz- DH

Matt Wieters- C

Adam Jones- CF

Nick Markakis- RF

J.J. Hardy- SS

Ryan Flaherty- 2B

A few notes on my lineup projection:

  • When I looked at this lineup, I felt that it would benefit Showalter to mix and match, so opposing teams wouldn’t be able to bring in a left-handed specialist to face multiple lefties.
  • A lot of this lineup rides on if Manny Machado will be healthy on Opening Day. If he isn’t ready to go, you can see a swift change in my lineup, with Markakis most likely going back to the lead-off spot. If that’s the case, expect J.J. Hardy to hit in the two spot until Machado’s return.
  • The Orioles seem to really like David Lough. They might try to have Lough hit lower in the lineup to start, but I feel the best spot for him would be lead-off, as he could take some of the pressure off Markakis and allow him to hit in a spot that might be more comfortable for him.
  • I absolutely love the middle part of the order. Anytime you can put Nelson Cruz in the middle of Chris Davis and Matt Wieters, you know that your lineup can be explosive.
  • Buck Showalter has said previously that he likes having J.J Hardy hitting lower in the lineup. If you have Hardy, one of the best power hitting Shortstops in all of baseball, hitting eighth, that is a definitely plus for a team who needs a lot of offense to compete.

Of course my projected lineup doesn’t include bench guys, and definitely things can change.

You could also see a lineup of:  Machado, Markakis, Jones, Davis, Cruz, Wieters, Hardy, Lough and Flaherty once Machado is running like he normally can – and If Markakis gets off to a hot start too. .

Although we are anxious for Opening Day, it still is a pretty long away, so for now we just can speculate and play around with names until the 25 man roster is set in stone.

Who Benefits Most From the Nelson Cruz Signing?

When I look at this deal with Cruz, I can’t help but think what current Oriole benefits the most from having his bat in the order.

After thinking it over, I thought of one particular player that I expect to have a huge year, as he will be able to be comfortable in his own role and will see better pitches having Cruz hitting before him.

No, not Chris Davis or Matt Wieters, but Adam Jones.

Adam Jones had an outstanding 2013 season, hitting 33 HRs for the Orioles. With the acquisition of Cruz, Jones will be able to hit lower in the lineup and also get the opportunity to see better pitches. We could see Jones’ power numbers go up this season.

Jones is already one of the best Outfielders in the game, and has a lot of power. Jones is a 30+ HR guy, as he showed his power in 2013 with his 33 HRs.

Hitting in a lineup projected like mine would truly benefit Jones, as he definitely will get a lot more opportunities to see better pitches.

With the type of power that Jones has, I definitely can see him hitting 40+ HRs this season. If Jones has any type of season like he did last year, this lineup will be a nightmare for opposing pitchers.

Where Do the Orioles Stand?

When I looked at the signing of Ubaldo Jimenez, I felt that the team took a step in the right direction, but also felt there was room to improve.

After seeing the signing of Nelson Cruz, I feel that the team is ready to compete right now, even though there still are a few question marks as we are almost about to start Spring Training action.

This team definitely should be able to compete this season, as they have one of the most explosive lineups in all of baseball. Now it's your turn, what would your Orioles 2014 Opening Day lineup look like?

This team definitely should be able to compete this season, as they have one of the most explosive lineups in all of baseball. Now it’s your turn, what would your Orioles 2014 Opening Day lineup look like?

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com or their partners ***

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A big thanks goes out to our Guest Writer Nicholas Delahanty for preparing today’s featured article.  Nicholas is a current student at Felician College, studying Broadcast Journalism with a minor in English.

He served as the Broadcast and Media Relations Intern for the New Jersey Jackals in 2013, and also hosts a radio show on WRFC Felician College Radio Station called ‘Around the Bases.’

Nicholas recently started working as a broadcaster for Felician College Basketball games, and is a student-writer for the college’s monthly magazine.

He volunteers as a baseball and basketball coach in Garfield, New Jersey, and also volunteers as the announcer for the town’s Junior Boilermaker Football program.

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About nickdelahantymlbreports

Team Correspondent Writer for MLBReports.com, covering the Baltimore Orioles

Posted on February 24, 2014, in MLB Teams State Of the Unions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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