Oneil Cruz Sets His Goals, What if He Achieves Them

2-18-23 – By Gary Morgan – @garymo2007 on Twitter

Hey! 30 Home Runs, 30 Stolen Bases!

That sounds good right?

How about 40/40 instead?

First off, I love the lofty goals, and if the kid thinks he can do it, why not. I mean it’s hard to imagine a healthy Oneil Cruz hitting less than 30 isn’t it?

But 40/40, man there haven’t been a bunch of those, well, ever.

Three of them during the steroid era. Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez.

One of them, Alfonso Soriano in 2006.

This doesn’t happen often, so it’s not likely. That said, look at the skill set, the body type, the physical freak that is Oneil Cruz and I can’t imagine you’d just dismiss it off hand.

Even the list of modern players to reach 30/30 is a who’s who in MLB. Mike Trout hasn’t done it since 2012, and probably won’t achieve it again. Cedric Mullins just did it in 2021, Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuna Jr., I mean if you pull this off, you’re no joke.

And sadly…

You aren’t likely a player the Pirates will afford.

Now, Cruz has some things to tackle if he’s going to hit these numbers. Has to cut down on strikeouts, probably needs to hit left handed pitching a bit better too. The pop is there, the speed is there, and the new rules, well lets just say 30 stolen bases isn’t the near impossible part of this equation it used to be.

I’d ordinarily tell you, this is getting ahead of yourself, and it really is, but I can’t pretend it’s impossible. He wasn’t as good as he can be last year, and still if I simply prorate his 2022 numbers out into a full season, he’s awful close to 30/30, maybe even there.

The biggest questions about Cruz aren’t with his bat, they’re with his glove, but the Pirates may need to consider taking a leap of faith with Oneil.

When a team like this even smells special, it very quickly becomes now or never. Like Acuna in Atlanta, Trout in LA, Betts in Boston, Yelich in Milwaukee, you jump on it and make sure you keep it.

I include some of those names for different reasons. Acuna because he was a young phenom and set the mold for how the Braves have built their roster out. Trout because he’s never gotten to win, and his very team didn’t do the same when they had a chance with Ohtani, Betts because Boston waited too long and wound up having to ship him, and Yelich because quite frankly, that’s worst case scenario.

It’s a risk, and with the Reynolds situation still playing out, probably not even their priority, but at some point soon, the idea of locking Oneil Cruz in better get to top of mind.

Even if he doesn’t achieve these goals in 2023, they’re going to be possible for a while. Cruz is 24 years old, and he’ll be a free agent in 2029. At that point he’ll be 30, and who knows what his resume might look like. Will we have fans pretending he’s too old like we’re seeing with Reynolds right now, in an effort to make themselves feel better, or will we be looking forward to even more time with Cruz in the black and gold?

I can’t predict the future like that, nobody can, but I can certainly say nobody is going to want to watch him go through arbitration, nobody is going to enjoy the near constant trade rumors that are sure to start come 2026, and nobody is going to accept the excuse they can’t afford it. True or not.

Good players you can take your time with, even if you’re the Pirates, great players, well they require a leap of faith.

Maybe it’s time for the Pirates to take one, instead of insisting fans alone ride the faith train.

Published by Gary Morgan

Former contributor for Inside the Pirates an SI Team Channel

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