There are many things that the Cardinals do that I simply don’t understand. One is the decision not to keep A.J. Pierzynski and hold out for Tony Cruz as a potential backup to Yadi. Perhaps the Cardinals (in the post-McGwire Era) have placed a lot of value on consistency, and Cruz is consistently bad.
Catcher is the most challenging position to play in baseball so naturally it demands the most talented players. Some of the best baseball players in history were catchers: Berra, Piazza, Torre, Simmons… the list goes on forever. Can Tony Cruz make the list?
Absolutely not. By the numbers, Cruz shows no sign of potential. In his four seasons, Cruz has a combined WAR (Wins Above Replacement) at -2.0. The most devastating was the -1.0 WAR he posted this past season. He has regressed each season, but the Cards have given him a nearly uniform number of starts (38, 51, 51, 50 respectively). Numbers on paper do not necessarily indicate greatness, but there comes in a point in time when GM John Mozeliak needs to say, “enough is enough”.
Ultimately, it is not the offensive numbers that bother me, it’s Cruz’s inability on defense. At catcher, Cruz has never posted greater than a 0.0 DefensiveWAR during a season and Cruz drops more pitches than any catcher I have seen. On top of this, he does not appear comfortable behind the plate and unlike Yadi he lets his emotions get to him too often.
I believe that Tony Cruz can be a good catcher for the Cardinals. However, this is blind faith. If Yadi is injured or traded during 2015, Tony Cruz leaves too large of a gap to fill the hole behind home .