Every team in baseball passed over Nelson Cruz, including the Rangers

13 Comments

Long before he became one of the league’s top sluggers and a postseason hero Nelson Cruz was passed over by every team in baseball, including the Rangers. His journey to playoff stardom is pretty remarkable, actually.

Cruz was signed out of the Dominican Republic as an 18-year-old by the Mets in 1998. Two years later they traded him to the A’s for journeyman backup infielder Jorge Velandia.

He spent four years in Oakland’s minor-league system, emerging as a good prospect, at which point the A’s traded Cruz to the Brewers for Keith Ginter. He spent two years in Milwaukee’s system, making his big-league debut in September of 2005, but then the Brewers traded him to the Rangers in a six-player swap that included Carlos Lee and Francisco Cordero as the big names.

Cruz played 41 games with the Rangers in 2006 and another 96 games in 2007, but hit just .231 with a .664 OPS. In the spring of 2008 he was out of minor-league options and the Rangers didn’t want to keep Cruz on the Opening Day roster, so they designated him for assignment, dropped him from the 40-man roster, and placed him on waivers.

Any of the other 29 teams could have claimed him for $20,000 … but they didn’t. Cruz passed through waivers unclaimed, at which point the Rangers assigned him to Triple-A for the first five months of the 2008 season. He finally earned a call-up in late August and went on to hit .330 with seven homers and a 1.030 OPS in 31 games down the stretch, forcing his way into the Rangers’ plans.

And the rest is history, as Cruz has hit .283 with 91 homers and an .885 OPS in 391 regular season games and .281 with 10 homers and a 1.027 OPS in 24 playoff games for the Rangers since going unclaimed and making his way back from Triple-A in late 2008.

Cruz didn’t make his big-league debut until age 25 and didn’t become a regular in the majors until age 28, but his minor-league performance was screaming out for opportunities before then. He didn’t thrive immediately in the majors, but Cruz hit .313 with 87 homers and a .996 OPS in 326 total games at Triple-A. He just needed an extended chance to prove those Triple-A numbers were no fluke and it took three trades and all 30 teams deciding he wasn’t worth a roster spot before that happened.

Boston is naming a street after David Ortiz

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Red Sox are going to retire David Ortiz’s number 34 tomorrow. The City of Boston is going to give Ortiz a different honor: they’re going to name a street after him.

The street: Yawkey Way Extension, which will be renamed David Ortiz Drive. Note: this is not the Yawkey Way that runs outside of Fenway Park. This is the, duh, extension of it beyond Brookline Avenue just to the northwest. See here, via Google Maps:

There is already a David Ortiz Bridge, which is the bridge that takes Brookline over the Turnpike just north of what will now be David Ortiz Way.

Now: rename Yawkey Way and we’re really cooking with gas.

Yoenis Cespedes advises younger player to hustle

Getty Images
9 Comments

Bill wrote last night about Yasiel Puig admiring a homer and raising the ire of the New York Mets because of it. I expanded on that some in the recaps. As far as significant baseball events go, it ain’t one. It’s just a silly thing that happened in one of 15 games and is, at best a minor footnote in the Chronicle of the Unwritten Rules.

But it does deserve one more post, because I missed something from it all. This passage from the AP recap of the game:

“He disrespected us,” Flores said. “I think there’s a way to enjoy a home run. That was too much.”

Between innings, Mets veteran Jose Reyes and outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, also from Cuba, spoke with Puig on the field.

“After I talked to Cespedes, he told me, `Try to run a little bit faster,’ and tried to give me some advice,” Puig said through a translator. “I don’t look at it that way, but it is what it is.”

Because, obviously, when you think about respect, professionalism, decorum and the proper way to comport oneself, you think about Jose Reyes. And when you think about hustle, you think about Yoenis Cespedes.