The Kansas City Royals are somewhat of a sabermetric whipping boy. Anytime they make a move, people expect the tone to be sardonic. I’m not being sarcastic or snarky whatsoever when I question the release of Juan Cruz. I just don’t get it.
When the Royals signed Cruz to a two-year deal worth six million in February 2009, it looked a heck of a lot smarter than their signing of Kyle Farnsworth. Cruz simply didn’t produce. His strikeout rates plummeted from double digits per nine to fewer than one per inning, and his walk rate remained above five. That combination is acceptable when Cruz is striking plenty of batters out, but now when the ratio drops to 1.31. Cruz wound up posting a 4.92 FIP in 50 innings.
So far this season, he’s appeared in five games, pitched five innings, and the strikeouts have been there. The walks have too, mind you, but his FIP to date is 2.66. Heck, even his ERA is a solid 3.38. Cruz’s velocity is slightly down – from 94 MPH to 93.2 – but I don’t see that as an issue. Ditto with his line drive rate is a ridiculously high 37.5% on a total of 16 batted balls.
Maybe he’s unhealthy, or maybe he’s a huge jerk. I don’t really know. It just seems like a very uncommon thing for a team to sour on a player this quickly when the team is known to make rash judgments on small sample sizes. If Cruz had an ERA of 10 I could see the Royals’ logic, even if I disagreed. This just comes across as odd.