The Dodgers added a little bit of power yesterday by trading for Jose Cruz Jr. Now before the Dodger nation blasts Paul DePodesta for doing too little, too late, we want to think about this rationally. Cruz does add some pop, which the Dodgers could use. He's a gold glover defensively. And this isn't meant to be an earth-shattering signing. This is simply meant to be a slight tweaking to a roster that could use some help, ala Billy Beane's regular tweaks in Oakland. It's also hard to be critical of a trade where the Dodgers only give up a player-to-be-named later, and spend just $1.1 million of money that's not ours.
That said, we're going to be critical of DePodesta for once. Jose Cruz Jr is a strikeout machine, who hits for no average, has mediocre OBPs, isn't nearly as fast as he used to be, and hasn't shown consistent power since he was 27 in 2001. What's more is that Cruz is exactly the kind of hitter who typically struggles at Dodger Stadium. He compares similarly to Jose Valentin, whose high-strikeout high-power profile has helped him hit .176 this year, down from .216 in 2004 and .237 in 2003. Dodger Stadium just isn't the place for declining power hitters. We also think DePodesta should take a mulligan on his recent comments.
"Quite frankly, the last 2 1/2 years we have had very good reports on [Cruz]. We haven't seen any kind of downturn in play," DePodesta said.
Haven't seen any downturn in play? Then what did the Diamondbacks and Red Sox see in his play when they both designated him for assignment this season? Did they see his batting average was .215, perhaps? Is there a reason why Cruz will be on his sixth team since 2002? And if the Dodgers were so high on Cruz, why wasn't he claimed before the trade deadline, when the Diamondbacks designated him for assignment? Maybe he could have been an upgrade over Jason Repko.
This move should be treated as the Dodgers taking a chance on some waiver fodder. The odds of Jose Cruz Jr. ever showing his 2001 form again are slim to none. We're happy that Paul DePodesta is trying to make this team better, but he might want to check into the programming code on his computer. It's working in Oakland, but we're waiting for it to work here.