Phillies Sign Juan Cruz & Aaron Cook

Aaron Cook could be a spot starter for the Phillies after signing a minor league contract today.It’s been reported by Jon Heyman that the Philadelphia Phillies last night signed relief pitcher Juan Cruz to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. This morning Jon Morosi reported that the Phillies had also signed starting pitcher Aaron Cook to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Last week the Phillies brought back Rodrigo Lopez under the same minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training.

It’s not surprising to see the Phillies signing pitching depth this close to Spring Training. Last year it was Dontrelle Willis. This year it’s a little more complicated since the Phillies #4 & #5 starters are Kyle Kendrick & John Lannan. Lannan spent a majority of last year in Triple-A and Kendrick had an up and down season and hasn’t showed the consistency to piece two decent seasons together yet in his career as a starter.

Cook rose to prominence with the Colorado Rockies from 2002-2011 before injuries limited him. He was selected for one All-Star Game in 2008. After his stint with the Rockies he pitched for the Red Sox last year going 4-11 with a 5.65 ERA. He only walked 21 batters in 94 innings pitched but he also only struck out 20. He surrended 15 home runs. In his career he is 76-79 with a 4.60 ERA. He’s 1-7 in his career against the Phillies and in 3 games pitched at Citizens Bank Park has given up 2 home runs (Paul Bako in 2009 & Ross Gload in 2010). He’s 1-2 at CBP with an ERA of 5.51. The 33-year-old right hander was originally a 2nd round draft pick by the Colorado Rockies in 1997. His best season was his All-Star season in 2008 when he went 16-9 with a 3.96 ERA.

Juan Cruz has had an interesting career in the last couple of years. The 34-year-old right hander has pitched for 7 different teams in the last 11 seasons and is coming off a situation where the Pittsburgh Pirates designated him for assignment last year and he refused and became a free agent and was never signed by another team. In 2008 with the Arizona Diamondbacks he went 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA and was a big signing for the Kansas City Royals in 2009 earning a 2-year contract earning $5,500,000 but was released less than a month into the 2010 season. His ERA ballooned in the American League to a 5.72 and went 3-4. He wasn’t signed until February of 2011 by the Tampa Bay Rays for only $800K and went 5-0 in 56 games pitched for the AL East team and also went 5-0. The Pirates signed him before the 2012 season for $1.25 million and released him in August after he went 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA.

If the Phillies find some of their young arms are not ready for the 2013 season Cruz maybe a good life boat to have stashed in the minors if he doesn’t make the team out of camp as when he throws well he seems to be able to control the ball. Cruz has a lifetime average of 9.1 K/9 and a 1.9 K/BB. He’s pitched in 3 games in his career at Citizens Bank Park for 2.1 IP and gave up 1 home run (to Carlos Ruiz in 2012) with a 3.86 ERA.

Lopez returns to the Phillies after pitching for the team in 2009. He was 3-1 with the team with 5 games started and a 5.70 ERA. He was released by the team in September and signed the next year with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He led the National League in losses that year with 16 losses but somehow not the most he’s ever lost in a season as in 2006 he lost 18 games with the Baltimore Orioles. He spent the last two season with the Chicago Cubs going 6-7 with only 16 games started out of 30 he was in. The 37-year-old righthander has spent 6 seasons in the National League and has a 21-31 record to go with his 5.03 ERA. He’s never lost at Citizens Bank Park going 3-0 in 9 games with 5 of them starts.

Hopefully the 5 starters for the rotation (Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Kendrick & Lannan) never have an issue where these guys would be brought up for significant time but if they’re able to stick around in the minors and contribute in case anything does happen during the season or for a spot start it might not be a bad idea to bring up veterans instead of young kids like Tyler Cloyd who didn’t look ready for the Major Leagues. Cruz could be a diamond in the rough for the Phillies in the bullpen though if there is an injury or someone like Michael Stutes isn’t ready to begin the season.

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Derek Sabato

Derek Sabato is a longtime Philly sports fan who founded HighPhive.com in July, 2012. His passion is the Philadelphia Phillies, Eagles & Flyers. Rebounding to be a 76ers fan. He also runs and operates the @TheHighPhive on Twitter and The High Phive page on Facebook. He's very vocal about his Philly sports and his opinions. You can also follow him on his personal Twitter @DerekSabato.