The Rise and Fall of Luis Cruz


He was an instant sensation. A career minor leaguer who had worked his way up to a starting third base man position for the Dodgers last season. After coming up and hitting .297 with 6 homeruns and 40 RBIs in 283 at-bats in 2012, the Dodgers were already rolling out Cruz jerseys to cater to the Cruzzzzz chants from the stands. “Cochito” Cruz also was pretty slick with the glove, and he played mostly third base and shortstop for the Dodgers last year. He only made two errors out in the field.

Luis Cruz was a great clutch hitter for the Dodgers down the stretch in 2012. Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Third base has been a black hole of disappointment for the Dodgers in the recent years. Casey Blake may have been the last decent third base man to play with the Dodgers. Blake’s last game with the Dodgers was on August 31, 2011. If it wasn’t for Juan Uribe‘s awful Dodger career, Luis Cruz would have never been in the equation. Let’s blame Uribe for the fateful tale of Luis Cruz.

In 2013, Luis Cruz has been totally useless at the plate and lackluster in the field as well. After getting into a fight with Team Canada during the World Baseball Classic just before the start of the regular season, Cruz has not fared well with the Dodgers. Announced to be the Dodgers starting third baseman for the 2013 season during the offseason ignited a debate and polarization between the Luis Cruz supporters and the cynics. Luis Cruz had never been that good in the Majors, and his success as a Dodger in 2012 doesn’t reflect his true value in the game. I was hopelessly optimistic, and I thought that Cruz would be the much-needed productive third baseman they were wishing for. Alas, I was wrong. Cruz has been anything but productive this season.

.096. Cruz has only 7 hits in 77 plate appearances. He’s only walked once but struck out 12 times. Cruz continues to frustratingly pop-out on many at-bats. In fact Eric Stephen of True Blue LA pointed out that Cruz has 18 pop-outs which is only second in the National League to Simmons who has hit 20 pop-ups in 161 plate appearances. There has to be something wrong with his swing, but obviously Mark McGwire is unable to fix it. Or perhaps the Luis Cruz feel good story was too good to be true. The truth was that Luis Cruz wasn’t going to be a spectacular player for a long stretch. His many years in the minors and his brief time with the Pirates and the Brewers in the Majors indicted what type of player he would be.

Cruz could be shipped over to AAA soon, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Dodgers make that move since carrying a player who is virtually hitless is just wasting a roster spot. I’m also talking about Ramon Hernandez who is even

Luis Cruz hasn’t been able to pull it together this season with the Dodgers. Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

bigger of a roster spot waste with his sole base hit as a Dodger. The Dodgers will no longer need Cruz’s services once Hanley Ramirez returns. The Dodgers will have to keep Gordon on the big club, and they should move Hanley Ramirez to third base. In fact, I’d rather see Juan Uribe at third base than Cruz, and Uribe is having a surprisingly decent season with a .259 batting average, 2 homeruns, a .397 OBP and a .759 OPS. Uribe has drawn 14 walks and struck out just 11 times. Uribe is clearly the more valuable hitter when compared to Cruz.

Don Mattingly started Luis Cruz on Friday night versus the Braves for some reason. Cruz managed one single, an infield single. He brought in a run, and he reached on an error. Cruz still popped out of course. The biggest detriment Cruz brought to this game was a costly error which ultimately led to Justin Upton‘s epic grand slam in the sixth inning. A costly mistake for a player on the bubble.

I really wanted to believe in the idea of Cruzzzz. It’s fun to root for the underdog. Yet once the underdog stays under water, it’s time to face the reality that he is just not that player you grew to love all the time.

The Dodgers will need to make that somewhat sad decision to cut Cruz pretty soon. Winning is paramount, and this Dodger team needs to start looking at the obvious choices it must make to try to turn this season around.