Red Sox get Cruz to make up for loss of Nixon

By Jim Callis

July 30, 2005

While the baseball world waits to see if the Red Sox will trade Manny Ramirez, Boston made a different outfield-related move Saturday. The Red Sox got Jose Cruz Jr. from the Diamondbacks for a pair of minor leaguers, righthander Kyle Bono and infielder Kenny Perez. Arizona also will contribute cash toward the remainder of Cruz’ $3.5 million salary for 2005.

Cruz, 31, will team with Gabe Kapler to play right field for Boston in the absence of Trot Nixon, who’s out indefinitely with a strained left oblique muscle. Cruz joins his third team this year, having opened 2005 as property of the Devil Rays, who traded him in February for Casey Fossum. He hit .213/.347/.436 with 12 homers and 28 RBIs in 64 games for the Diamondbacks, who designated him for assignment to make room for elite prospect Conor Jackson. Cruz doesn’t hit for average, but he contributes offensively with power and speed (he was a 30-30 man in 2001, though he has no steals in 2005) and by drawing lots of walks. A Gold Glove winner in 2003, he has a solid arm and more range than most corner outfielders. He’ll become a free agent at the end of this season, when his two-year, $6 million contract expires. He’s a career .248/.336/.454 hitter with 187 homers, 563 RBIs and 102 steals in 1,122 games.

Bono, 22, signed out of Central Florida last year for $432,000, a record bonus (since broken) for an eighth-rounder. Bono doesn’t have a single dominant pitch, but he keeps hitters off balance by mixing his sinker, changeup and slider. Projected as a reliever, he pitched in that role at high Class A Wilmington this year, going 2-2, 4.07 in 24 games. He had a 56-32 strikeout-walk ratio in 49 innings, while opponents hit .222 with five homers against him. Throwing strikes had been one of his strong suits before 2005, but his control has been off this year.

Perez, 23, was a 2000 sixth-round pick out of a Miami high school. Best suited to be a utility infielder, he has seen time at second base, third base and shortstop in the minors this season. He has good hands, a solid arm and adequate range. A switch-hitter, he doesn’t provide much offense. He’s a contact hitter with little power and just average speed. In 80 games between Triple-A Pawtucket and Double-A Portland this year, Perez has batted .268/.323/.363 with five homers, 33 RBIs and seven steals.