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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

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Depth signing? No way, this is Amaro's counter-move to the Nats getting Soriano.

Big deal

I think its a good deal as far as minor league signings go.

I like this as a depth signing. More upside than some of the guys who got called up last year (Rosenberg, Savery) or some of the relievers at Lehigh last year (Brummett, JC Ramirez).

Cruz is the kind of veteran reliever who could come up and help this team out over a short stint (3-4 weeks).

Just not a guy who misses enough bats or Ks enough hitters though to stick all season or to tolerate his stretches of real control problems.

In fact on the organizational depth chart, I imagine Cruz is ahead of a bunch of relievers including:

Rosenberg
Diekman
Savery
Friend
JC Ramirez
Brummett
Cisco

That's a group of non-MLB caliber relievers. Only Diekman has any kind of possible future at the MLB level and I doubt he overcomes his huge command issues to stick at the MLB level.

Probably add in some other guys the Phils added this offseason including Robles too.

Some sites tell you that this organization has a deep bullpen or that they have a ton of talented young relievers. I didn't think that was the case last year going into the season and I don't think either is true especially regarding the talent-level of the Phils' younger arms.

Papelbon
Adams
Bastardo
Aumont
Horst

2 spots really open in camp right now with De Fratus, Stutes, Valdes, and Schwimmer. Maybe I overlooked someone but those 4 are the ones I think have a realistic shot at making the club besides the 5 I listed above.

This is the Nats' bullpen right now:

CL Storen
Soriano
Clippard
Stammen
Matheus
Garcia
Duke

Braves' bullpen

CL Kimbrel
Venters
O'Flaherty
Walden
C. Martinez
Avilan
TBA (probably a long-man)

Both of them are better and deeper than the Phils especially in the middle relief area.

Since relievers are such a crapshoot, I've always kind of liked signings like this. He's wild as hell but he has been good in the past & can still miss some bats. In all likelihood, he'll turn out like Sanches, Qualls, and Baez, but there's no harm in taking a shot.

"The Nationals have signed Soriano. Get me Cruz!" ... The Phillies are better, I think, when expectations of them are lower, so I like the feel of this season so far.

RR- yeah. For comfort I look back at some post-Santana 2008 offseason threads about the Mets. A lot of the same characters saying the same stuff.

MG- I agree with you. I think he is certainly not working his way up from the bottom of the depth chart. He got unlucky with BABIP last year, and his walks are always high. But he certainly has some good stuff and is worth a long look. If this is the type of signing you were talking about Sunday, yeah, I agree, you can never have enough of these.

MG, the Nats bullpen right now would feature Soriano as the closer, not Drew Storen.

Amaro made a great minor league signing last year in Juan Pierre. Perhaps he did it again with another Juan...Cruz!

He's a great veteran to have in case one of the young bullpen arms falter or get injured.

MG- how does he not "miss enough bats"? Juan Cruz has averaged 9.1 K/9 over his career.

Oh great...another Juan Carlos...

Didn't we get enough of those with Romero??

A solid depth signing. I hope they haven't forgotten Raul Valdes in the shuffle, though - he quietly had an outstanding year in 2012 (including an 11:1 K/BB ratio between AAA and the majors) and should be in the mix.

It's fun looking at Cruz's b-ref page. He's basically the poster boy for the "relievers are volatile" crowd.

Look at these ERA+s:

130, 102, 72, 156, 59, 113, 154, 177, 78, 132, 98, 135

He could be average this year, god awful or excellent. Just flip a three sided coin.

NOTE: He only had 5.1 IP in the year in which he had that 132 ERA+.

Doesn't change the point.

Raul valdes gave the phils a great boost last year. No reason not to throw a milb deal to Cruz and see if he does the same if needed.

Mg: what makes you think aumont is higher on depth chart than defratus?

I saw this signing on my MLBTradeRumors feed on my iPhone and got super excited...then I realized it was 2013 and not 2008.

All in all though, not a bad ST invite type signing.

MG, the Nats bullpen right now would feature Soriano as the closer, not Drew Storen.

Posted by: Pops | Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 08:08 AM


THIS...they're not paying him $14 M AAV to be a setup guy. They're not the Yankees.

I had a nice post and it got swallowed up.

Basically Cruz's K/9 rate is around 8.0 since '09 and his BB/9 is over 5.0. His swing & miss rate though has fallen a bit too.

Cruz can possibly help the club though if he gets called up. That's ideally want you want out of a veteran reliever/positional player at AAA.

As for the Phils' bullpen, I pretty much see them being right now back where they were last offseason headed into the year.

If Adams is healthy and solid and De Fratus/Aumont has a breakthrough year, this can be a very solid bullpen. You could have said the exact same thing though last offseason replacing Adams with Contreras.

lorecore - Easy. Aumont has a high K/9 potential and Amaro has shown a very strong preference for relievers who have a high K/9 rate even if they have command issues & don't have a MLB-caliber offspeed pitch.

Same thing with hitters in that Amaro clearly prefers contact hitters who hit for at least a moderate average. He says he is concerned about hitters who work counts and take BBs but he generally hasn't acquired those types of hitters via FA.

If the Mets only offered 1 yr/$2M to Hairston and no other teams is offering that much more, I hope the Phils swoop in and pick him up.

Nix is a bum and it would be worth upgrading for another $1M or so to sign Hairston & move Nix if if the Phils had to kick in a little cash (say $350k on his $1.35M salary) to do so.

"Just not a guy who misses enough bats or Ks enough hitters though to stick all season or to tolerate his stretches of real control problems."


MG, this is the kind of statement that you occasionally make that baffle me.

As Carson pointed out above, Cruz has a 9.1 career K/9.

Since 2007, Cruz has a 10.0 K/9, striking out 282 batters in 252.2 IP.

His problems stem from the fact that during that same time period his BB/9 is 5.1, thus leading to too darn many baserunners, as Seidman stated in the header.

So, he's a guy you being in if you need a strikeout in the middle innings, but the problem is that because of his walk rate you're going to sink or swim with him because he's half as likely to walk someone.

"So, he's a guy you BRING in if you..."

Aaron Cook too

If I may either speak for MG, or offer what I think is a better point:

While Cruz has had a decent enough strikeout rate throughout his career, to supplement rolo's point, it's not nearly strong enough to routinely outweigh his BB/9 issue. A strikeout rate in the 8-10 range is good, but if your BB/9 is in the 4.5-5 range, you need a K/9 over probably 11, maybe even closer to 12 to be relied upon.

This is why we see the variance in his year to year production. Sometimes those strikeouts will fall at the right time, sometimes they won't. But if he's striking guys out at a truly elite level (11-12 K/9), the walk rate is less of a concern.

rolo - Sighting career MLB numbers for a guy who has been in MLB for a decade in regards to what he is likely to do next year is next to meaningless.

Even using numbers from 5 or 6 years ago for a pitcher are quite problematic.

Cruz is clearly not the same reliever he was during his heyday in Arizona. His velocity has dropped a bit and ditto his K/9 and swing/miss rate.

3 of his last 4 season in MLB Cruz has averaged well under 10.0 K/9 strike outs. The only season he didn't he pitched a whopping 5.1 IP in '10.

Cruz is still an above-average K/9 pitcher who can dial it up to 94 or so if necessary. Just not the same K/9 pitcher he was in Arizona and that is an issue for a guy who has command issues & gives up a ton of flyballs.

Mg: defratus has high k potential as well, without the command problems. And I don't think Amaro is who aligns the bullpen and definitely isn't the one judging their ST performance.

Milb signings rolling in, I guess that means players are starting to cave.

I remember when Juan Cruz was a prospect for the Cubs and the big debate in ranking circles was, who's the better prospect, Juan Cruz or Mark Prior. Turns out the answer was, neither. Though looking up their career WAR's is instructive in seeing just how much more valuable a starter is than a reliever. Juan Cruz in 12 seasons has 655 IP and a 4.6 WAR; Mark Prior in 4.5 seasons 657 IP and a 15 WAR. Cubs supposedly had an amazing system in 2002 with Mark Prior (#2 in Baseball America overall/100), Juan Cruz (#6/100), Hee Sop Choi (#40/100), David Kelton (#45/100) Bobby Hill (#48/100), Nic Jackson (#68/100), Carlos Zambrano (#80/100). That was quite the farm system at the time.

lorecore - Aligns the bullpen? Probably not but I do think he plays a key role in who makes the roster.

De Fratus did put up some nice K/9 numbers in '10 and '11. Not so much last year. Aumont though was used as a setup guy by Cholly & I do think Cholly/Dubee will use Aumont initially to start the year in more high-leverage spots in the 7th/8th inning.

Might change though if Aumont is awful in spring training, loses his composure on the mound at times (Dubee has criticized for that before), and De Fratus has a solid spring with some impressive K and BB numbers.

Phils signed Aaron Cook to a minor league deal.

Amaro is going hog wild at the Value Village stocking his cart full.

If the Phils are just making MLB signings at this point and won't even spend $1M on some of the solid relief options out there, opening day payroll and projected revenues are a huge issue with this club going into the season.

MG, here are some of Cruz's periferals the last 2 seasons compared to league average (NL 2012):

_______WHIP____H/9___HR/9___BB/9___K/9____K/BB

Cruz......1.447.........8.0.........0.9........5.0........8.4.........1.68

NL.........1.311.........8.7.........1.0........3.1........7.7.........2.50


He simply walks too many guys.


Hey, here's a theory:

RAJ has every intention of placing Cruz on the 25-man to open the season. His high walk rate and WHIP will give Charlie agita, therefore leading Charlie to retire at the end of the season (which is what RAJ wants).

Too many Cooks spoil the Lehigh Valley pitching staff.

rolo - But Cruz has always walked too many guys. If he had a K/9 rate at 10 or over, he would be more tolerable.

Also interesting, Mark Prior pitched 19 games last season as a reliever last for Boston's AAA affiliate, Pawtucket (I believe). He had a 3.96 era and a 1.52 whip (not good). If anything suspicious ever happens to Dusty Baker, I'm just going to assume Mark Prior finally snapped and sought his justified revenge.


If the Phils are just making MLB signings at this point and won't even spend $1M on some of the solid relief options out there, opening day payroll and projected revenues are a huge issue with this club going into the season.

Posted by: MG | Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 10:18 AM


MG, I love your posts man, but your harping on this issue doesn't mean it's true. There's nothing wrong with signing these guys to MiL deals when they could be just as good as some of the relief options out there. Bullpen violatility has been discussed before. Wouldn't you rather see the Phils get better value out of an MiL sign for the pen?

The Phillies have an uncanny knack for signing players that I really liked 5 years ago. Both Cook & Cruz fall into this category. For that matter, so does Michael Young.

Lyon, Lindstrom, and a few others are still available and yeah I think those guys are both clear upgrades over a Stutes/Schwimmer.

"opening day payroll and projected revenues are a huge issue with this club going into the season. "


You say this all the time and it gets increasingly dumb. You don't know this so stop trying to move it forward so you can spare us an entire season of you saying this over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over.

Aaron Cook pitched 94 innings last year. His K/9 ratio for the season? 1.9! That's gotta be some kind of record.

I read the item over at mlbtr on the Cook signing and had to do a double-take.

He had a K/9 of 1.9 last season. I know it's much higher for his career, but that number really is surprising.

bap, you beat me to it!

ESPN.com (insider) is doing a series on MLB team "Windows". The gist of the writeup on the Phillies is that they are good enough to get a wild card is healthy and the playoffs are a crapshoot. If they fall out of contention this season, a firesale is a possibility because of the age of the roster.

TTI - You don't think Amaro would sign Hairston to a 1-yr/~$3M deal if he had the financial flexibility after spending the entire offseason lamenting the lack of an RH OF power bat?

They are a projected $8M under the luxury tax threshold and they aren't saying the entire amount for 'in season flexibility and trade deadline pickups.

Yo, new thread!

RoLo/BAP: if Clout has taught me anything, it's that much like team budgets, k/9's matter only to the moronocracy and are not an issue in the real world.

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