Cruz Control?

Monday, November 25 2002 @ 04:11 AM EST

Contributed by: Jordan

Just to further the off-season trade talk that fills the restless days until the GM meetings -- here's a piece from Ken Rosenthal's latest column:

Blue Jays CF Jose Cruz Jr. is drawing trade interest from the Giants, Astros, Rangers and Diamondbacks. Cruz hit 83 homers the past three seasons but likely will earn below $5 million in 2003.

The Giants possess the young pitching the Blue Jays crave. The Astros aren't sure it would be a good idea to pair Cruz with his father, Jose Cruz Sr., the team's first base coach. The Rangers and Diamondbacks could turn to Cruz if they fail to sign free-agent CF Steve Finley.

First, the usual provisos about any trade rumour circulated by a sportswriter, even if his initials aren't PG. Until verified by at least one more source, this is 100% speculative. That stated, here's a few thoughts arising from this item:

- Does anyone have any idea why a pairing of Cruzes Sr. and Jr. might not be a good idea? This is the first I'd heard of this. I don't like speculating on anyone's family situation from afar (or from a-near, for that matter), but it does add a potentially interesting angle to the enigma that is Jose Jr.

- Of the teams mentioned, the Giants would appear to be the best fit, but I frankly can't see Brian Sabean giving up any of his best prospects -- Foppert, Ainsworth or Williams -- for a guy coming off the worst season of his career. I would think these teams' interest in Cruz is genuine, but so is their interest in buying low. I'd be pleasantly shocked if Jose commanded a great deal on the market right now. In July, though? Maybe a different story.

- Kent and I spoke about Cruz the other day, and he believes strongly that Jose was injured or just plain hurting for most of 2002 and didn't show near what he was capable of. I tend to agree; the problem is that as a result, Cruz is not going to draw the same attention now that he might have drawn following his 30-30 year. The best solution might be to put him in right field in April, pray he stays healthy and performs as he's capable, and see if he attracts more attention come the trade deadline. It's not like Jayson Werth is ready for 600 ML plate appearances.

- Visiting the Blue Jays fanhome thread, there was a lot of talk about a Russ Ortiz-Jose Cruz straight swap. Opinion was divided among those who would take that deal in a second (my initial reaction) and those who think Ortiz has been overpitched by Dusty Baker and that his plummeting K/IP ratio foreshadows serious problems (my subsequent conclusion). It's too bad, since I've always liked Ortiz as a mid-rotation stalwart, but he may have shot his bolt.

- Y'know, trade rumours are just plain fun. Ninety percent of 'em come to nothing, and those that are legitimate involve considerations that even well-informed fans aren't aware of. But this is still one of my favourite off-season (and in-season, really) pastimes.