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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Brewers Need Luis Cruz on Big League Roster

Much has been said about the 2011 Brewers' defensive liabilities. It seems to come up in nearly any discussion regarding their offseason pitching acquisitions, or in conversations about their chances of making the playoffs. The Brewers have a strong defensive center fielder in Carlos Gomez, but beyond that they're largely a team of defensive underachievers. Shortstop, manned by Yuniesky "Yun-E6" Betancourt, has been a topic of particular concern. Beyond the versatile Craig Counsell, still an upgrade at short from Betancourt, the team has little in the form of defensive strength. For these reasons the Brewers should give one of their final roster spots to Luis Cruz.

Cruz has been recognized for sometime as an above-average defender at shortstop. If needed he can also fill in at any of the infield positions, likely representing a defensive upgrade. The Brewers need someone on their roster who can serve as a late-inning defensive replacement for Yun-E6. Cruz fills that role and might even help motivate Betancourt due to the danger of losing his job as the starting shortstop.

Additionally, Cruz has shown defensive versatility this spring. The Brewers plugged him into the outfield and he has shown defensive prowess there, too. Yesterday vs the Indians he made a running, back-handed catch on a tailing line drive, ending with a slide. This prompted a compliment from one of the Indians' commentators: "The infielder-turned-outfielder looks pretty good wherever he is." Considering all of the injuries this spring, having someone who can fill in wherever needed should not be overrated.

Sure, Cruz has little big league experience (56 total games in three seasons between the Brewers and Pirates). True, he hasn't shown much skill with the bat in those 56 games (.221/.275/.260). Still, a defensively skilled shortstop holds a higher importance than an offensively skilled shortstop, particularly on a team rich with quality bats, below-average defenders, and above-average starting pitchers.

As little as Spring Training stats actually matter, he's been decent at the plate (.303/.324/.485). The Brewers need his defense and might even get more offensive production than expected. He deserves a shot on the team.

1 comment:

  1. And today I see that Adam McCalvy wrote yesterday that the Brewers want to fill their final infield spot with a right-handed bat with defensive versatility. Still more evidence in favor of Cruz...