By Jim Callis
March 26, 2006
Two pitchers accustomed to getting traded had it happen again on Sunday as Juan Cruz went to the Diamondbacks in a deal that sent Brad Halsey to the Athletics. Cruz was traded twice in 2004, first from the Cubs to the Braves for prospects and then to the Athletics for Tim Hudson. Halsey was part of the Randy Johnson trade with the Yankees in January 2005.
Cruz, a 27-year-old righthander, was one of the game’s top pitching prospects when he was coming up through the Cubs system. He has dominated in his last two stops in Triple-A, going 4-0, 1.95 at Iowa in 2003 and 5-1, 2.40 at Sacramento in 2005, but has yet to find his niche in the majors. He pitched well in relief for Atlanta in 2004 (6-2, 2.75), but went 0-3, 7.44 in 28 games for the A’s last year. In 33 innings, he had a 34-22 K-BB ratio, and opponents batted .290 with five homers against him. At times, Cruz will show a variety of plus pitches: a sinker that runs into the mid-90s, a curveball, slider and changeup. But he’s inconsistent with the quality of his secondary pitches and his ability to locate all of his offerings, so his big league success has been sporadic. He avoided arbitration and signed a $575,000 contract in January. Cruz, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in 10 spring innings, will open the season in Arizona’s bullpen but could be a candidate to join the rotation if an opening arises. He has a 14-24, 4.36 record in 156 career games (23 starts).
Halsey, a 25-year-old lefty, went 8-12, 4.61 in 28 games (26 starts) last year, his first full season in the majors. He’s a finesse pitcher, as evidenced by his 82-39 K-BB ratio, .300 opponent average and 20 homers allowed in 160 innings. He doesn’t have an out pitch, and his changeup is his best offering. He also throws a fringe-average fastball and a slider. Halsey has had a rough spring, allowing 18 hits (including five homers) and 11 earned runs in 11 innings, losing ground to Claudio Vargas in the race to become Arizona’s No. 5 starter. He has options remaining, and Oakland likely will send Halsey to Triple-A to begin the year. He has a lifetime 9-15, 4.92 mark in 36 big league games (33 starts).