While you were sleeping, or were up all night with some kind of Ambien-resistant sleep disorder, the Phillies went ahead and signed 34-year-old journeyman reliever Juan Cruz to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
No, he is not an outfielder. Just stop it already.
Last year Cruz played in Pittsburgh, where he posted an impressive 2.78 ERA in 43 appearances, averaging 8.3 K/9. And while Cruz does miss some bats, he also misses a lot of strike zones. He posted a WHIP of 1.626 last year and allowed 4.8 BB/9 and 9.8 H/9 last year. Cruz has a career WHIP of 1.408 and his career average of 4.8 BB/9 proves last year’s numbers were no aberration.
His season ended early last year when the Pirates designated him for assignment in August and Cruz refused his minor league assignment. Which makes total sense. After all, if you’re being forced to play in Pittsburgh at the Major League level, being forced to play in their minor league system is just extra insulting.
Cruz has been a troubadour for most of his career, thanks mainly to his inability to find the strike zone with a fastball that averages about 93 mph and can reach 96 when he Hulks out. He supplements that fastball with a cutter, slider and change-up, none of which he can control with any regularity.
Still, it’s a nice depth signing for the Phils. Sure, Ruben Amaro could have decided to spend $12 million on another reliever, like Rafael Soriano, but the Phillies only have so many ninth innings to go around, and they already have an overpriced closer taking care of theirs. Cruz could be a nice arm to have stocked on the AAA shelf in case some of the young guns expected to make up the ‘pen this year struggle.
Unfortunately, Cruz does not swing much of a bat, nor can he play one of the corner outfield positions on a regular basis.
Alas, the search continues. Or, maybe it doesn’t.
I don’t know. Ruben lies.