34-Year-Old Pitcher – Free Agent
2013 Fantasy Baseball Outlook
The Phillies signed Cruz to a minor league contract this offseason and will give him a shot at winning a bullpen job. He was 1-1 with three saves, a 2.78 ERA and a 33:19 K:BB ratio in 35.2 innings wi...
Juan Cruz Contract Information:
Released by the Phillies in February of 2013.
Cruz has been released by the Phillies, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
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Career Pitcher vs. Batter Stats (View All Matchup Data)
Worst Matchups for Juan Cruz (by OPS against, min 6 AB)
Best Matchups for Juan Cruz (by OPS against, min 6 AB)
Juan Cruz: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Cruz compiled a 3.88 ERA and 1.315 WHIP while striking out almost a batter per inning for the Rays in 2011. Pittsburgh is looking at him as a middle-inning reliever. He'll face plenty of competition, but if he can pitch like he did for Tampa Bay then he's got a good chance of heading north with the Bucs.
After being an effective middle-relief option for Arizona in 2008, Cruz signed a two-year contract with the Royals in 2009. Cruz was slated to be a stalwart in the Royals' bullpen, but had an inconsistent 2009 and appeared in 46 games while posting a 5.72 ERA. Cruz has electric stuff blessed with a plus fastball and curveball, but too often he struggles with command (38:29 K:BB ratio). Cruz missed the majority of August and September due to a strained shoulder, but returned for the final series of the regular season and should be ready for spring training. He will enter 2010 as a setup option to closer Joakim Soria.
Despite missing time with an oblique injury, Cruz was an effective middle relief option for the D-Backs again in 2008, striking out 71 in 51.2 innings. While his command can be spotty, Cruz's excellent strikeout rate (12.37 K/9IP) bails him out of trouble and makes him one of the game's most effective middle relievers. He'll help leagues where productive bullpen arms racking up strikeouts carry value. On the open market for the first time in his career, Cruz should receive plenty of interest during the offseason and he's unlikely to return to Arizona in 2009. Depending on where he lands, Cruz could be given an opportunity to compete for the closer's role during spring training.
After getting mixed results from Cruz as a starter in 2006, the D-Backs opted to keep him in a relief role for all of 2007 and the results were highly favorable. He abused right-handed hitters, posting a 53:8 K:BB ratio and a paltry .143 BAA and will be slotted into a set-up role in front of new closer Tony Pena with the departure of Jose Valverde. Consider him to be a nice staff filler in NL-only leagues given the strong strikeout rate and good command.
It's probably time to start thinking of Cruz as a reliever rather than a starter. He's had his best seasons that way and showed a big split between the two roles last year (4.44 ERA and 4.58 strikeouts per nine innings as a starter, 3.32 ERA and 8.50 strikeouts per nine innings as a reliever). If he's going to relieve, he's a threat to close, and even with the high ERA last year, his stuff and his peripherals were OK. He's someone to target.
Cruz was torched in relief early in the season to the point where it earned him a demotion to the minors. He excelled as a starter at Triple-A, only to get called back up to pitch out of the A's bullpen down the stretch. He'll start the 2006 season behind Huston Street, Jay Witasick, Kiko Calero and Justin Duchscherer among righties in the A's bullpen, so a year spent in long relief limbo seems likely.
Stolen from the Cubs in a trade last spring training, Cruz had a strong season in middle relief for the Braves. He struck out nearly a batter per inning with a 70/30 K/BB ratio. His numbers have been solid the last few years but he just hasn't found a valuable fantasy role in the rotation or the bullpen. After his trade to Oakland in the Tim Hudson deal, he could finally play a more prominent role in the bullpen as the primary set-up man to Octavio Dotel.
After a stellar few weeks at the tail end of 2001, Cruz has never quite regained his form at the big league league level. Cruz struggled early in 2003 and was demoted to Triple-A Iowa in June, dominated there, got recalled and struggled again. The silver lining here is that Cruz, still just 25 years old, actually didn't pitch as badly as his unsightly ERA would suggest. Cruz struck out 65 big league batters in those 61 innings and walked 28, giving him an excellent K:IP and a decent K:BB ratio. While the walks are still a little higher than they should be, the real culprit for his poor ERA were the 66 hits he allowed. And that's good news because bloop singles look like line drives in the box score, and as a result, hits-allowed totals are often not the fault of the pitcher and therefore not reliable indicators of future performance. As such, Cruz makes a nice sleeper candidate for 2004, provided that his veteran-o-phile manager doesn't jerk him around again in favor another washed up Shawn Estes-type.
After pitching well and showing a very live arm down the stretch in 2001, Cruz headed into 2002 as Baseball America's sixth best overall prospect and with a spot in Chicago's starting rotation. But Cruz struggled early on, and by May, he was spot starting and pitching out of the pen. Cruz righted himself after the All-Star break, posting a 2.32 ERA and a 31/14 K/BB ratio in 31 innings pitched and finished the season with decent numbers across the board save for his high walk totals (59 in 97 1/3 IP) and his 3-11 record. Cruz has a good chance to win a rotation spot out of spring training again this season, but in order for him to be effective, he'll have to keep the walks down. Incidentally, Cruz' top prospect status last season probably had a lot to do with his alleged age (21), but it was discovered last January that he is actually two years older than that. That means he'll turn 25 this year, and while he still could have a bright future ahead of him, some of the shine has fallen off his star.