Relief pitcher with some previous success? Check

Coming off an injury? Check

Willing to sign a minor league contract? Check

Welcome Juan Cruz to the Tampa Bay Rays bullpen! Cruz appeared in just 5 games in 2010 for the Royals before being released. He then underwent shoulder surgery.

Cruz has experienced some success in the big leagues, averaging more than a strikeout per inning.

Given the current state of the Rays bullpen, Cruz has an excellent shot at making the team.

Oh yeah, and 11 days until pitchers and catcher report! Suck it Winter. You can stop cars, but you can’t stop time. Or Spring Training.

  • Andy Pettitte (that’s 4 Ts) has decided to retire. That leaves the Yankees with AJ Burnett as their #2 starter and without a #4 or #5 starter. Not Brian Cashman’s best off-season as a GM. [NY Times]
  • A limited number of fans will be able to eat with Joe Maddon at FanFest. [Rays Report]
  • The Rays quest for a new stadium was a topic in the Tampa Mayoral debate. []
  • Big League Stew is running a “Create-a-Caption” contest on a funny photo from the Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon press conference. [Big League Stew]
  • Well, there is at least one writer at that believes in the Rays. [ESPN]
  • Are the Red Sox fans beginning to hate the Rays more than the Yankees? [NESN]
  • Here is another article telling you why you don’t go to enough Rays games. [Yahoo! Sports]
  • Fred McGriff no longer works for the Rays. [The Heater]




    1. werD says:

      why does everyone assume Andy S has a bullpen spot locked up?

      Honestly, if im Freidman, and i need to create a spot on the 40 man, unfortunately, i'd be hard pressed to keep Sonny on there. Id much rather roll the dice with some young guys, and see which one of them can replace that 5.25ERA...

      • KillaTapes says:

        His ability to start has a lot to do with that. Flexibility

        • Joe says:

          I really think Freidman was determined to build a completely new bullpen but he kept 1 guy around, which was Andy because if a starter gets hurt or is pitching awfully, hes who you call on instead of using the whole pen. And Andy made of had some bad games last season but I think he made 4 starts, all solid and a lot of times he was great out of the pen. How about back to back days in Florida, 1st day 55 pitches to save pen, 2nd day with the Rays in trouble and the pen empty they bring in tired Andy and he saves the game. It was either a 1 or 2 run lead, bases loaded, nobody out so that was not a cheap save either.

          • werD says:

            i completly agree with everything you guys are saying, but at the end of the day, numbers dont lie. while andy does have potential to start games, so does Matt Moore and Jake McGee. i just dont see the rays needing to use that spot on the 40 man for Sonny. whats more, i really dont think any other team would grab him immediately. i see sonny's career going the way of J Hammell or Seth McClung, from here on out.

            • Joe says:

              Well Matt Moore isn't an option yet, the guy hasn't pitched above Single A. Jake McGee....maybe, I am hoping he gets the chance to close out games for this season and for the future. Then there is Alex Torres, Alex Cobb and Chris Archer. I just don't get excited when I think of Cobb, I seriously doubt they will move Archer right to the pen, he will start at Durham and I think he will be good, Torres is possible, I like him as a SP but any of these guys require another trade and 5 we currently have, we are NOT trading Price or Hellickson, I would think we want to keep Davis and then there is Shields and Neimann. I would be okay with losing 1 of those 2 but Shields value has never been lower and teams are probably concerned that Neimann never fully recovered....even if he did look great in his last start and relief appearence in the last game of the season and in the playoffs. Neimann used to be what McGee is now for me, closer of the future so actually, you can have Neimann or McGee take Andys spot as LR and put Chris Archer or Alex Torres in that rotation....

            • Tom says:

              Hammel has actually pitched decently for the Rockies the past 2 seasons.

    2. The writer if that NESN article sounds REALLY arrogant, but I'd expect nothing less from a team with money to spend.

    3. Jason W says:

      I've read a total of 2 articles over at, and I must say, it is some of the worst and most bias written I've ever seen. It just plain straight they are going to suck, we should hate them for trying to be good, and we are the bestest team ever. How can people read that sh**?

    4. Joe says:

      Look over this bullpen make over.

      Adam Russell can very well be the new Grant Balfour
      Joel Peralta is Dan Wheelers twin
      Juan Cruz is exactly like Benoit was when we signed him, coming off a rough year and injury but throws hard and racks up K's
      Howell when he comes back will prob be more of a fireman because being a closer kinda almost killed his career. But that being said, he can't be compared to Soriano, however he is so much better than Qualls, Cormier and whatever else we threw out there last season.
      Andy Sonnanstine should have a good shot at being like Andy Sonnanstine.
      Kyle Farnsworth, I don't know who he would replace, he's kinda like Balfour I guess but Russell will do much better at that.
      Then there is the 7th spot with lots of guys competiting but in my mind a clear front runner in Jake McGee and they make this stud a closer, he can resemble Soriano for us.

      Yes, I understand a lot of things have to work but that is amazing by Freidman in one ONE off season.

      Those are my 7 favorite, well 6 and Farnsworth anyway with the dept of Cory Wade, Cesar Ramos, Cesar Cabrel, Mike Ekstrom (bleh), Brandon Gomes, R.J Swindle and of course there is also the chance at Cobb or Torres becoming bulpen arms. Archer, I love this guy as a SP too much (well same with Torres) but with Archer we just got the guy, he is going to be spending a full season in AAA starting before, making him a future closer even pops into their minds which I hope it does not. 2012 rotation of Price - Hellickson - Davis - Neimann - Archer with McGee at CL please.

      • Cork Gaines says:

        something simplistic and AWESOME about this: "Andy Sonnanstine should have a good shot at being like Andy Sonnanstine"

        • Don says:

          Is "simplistic"... academic for "he sucks"??....because I'm sure its not he's AWESOME!

          • Joe says:

            the "AWESOME" part has nothing to do with Andy, I think he liked how I phrased the line about him. Andy had his awesome moments especially against Florida but no one is confusing him with a ace or a closer..

            • Kelsey says:

              Andy might not be the best pitcher ever and he was never my favorite. But he really did save us last season on a few occasions. The ability for him to come in if needed in the 3rd inning or so is a good addition to have. Maybe he is not the best pitcher ever but overall I would say he has been an asset to this team.

      • Indiana Rays Boy says:

        Adam Russell: New Lance Cormier
        Kyle Fransworh: poor man's Grant Balfour
        Mike Ekstrom: Lance Cormier like
        Andy Sonnanstine: long man
        Juan Cruz: New Joaquin Beniot
        Joel Peralta: Dan Wheeler like
        JP Howell: could comeback to old form
        Jake McGee: potential closer

        Others battling for a spot like Corey Wade (whatever), Cesar Ramos, Cesar Cabrel, Brandon Gomes and R.J Swindle (AAA guys)

        Starting rotation is Price, Niemann, Davis, Hellickson and Shields (OUCH!!). Guys like Moore, Torres and Cobb are waiting in the wings. Zach Quate will be starting the season in AA as their closer, his numbers in Charlotte: 2-2 record 1.49 ERA 49 games with 25 saves 18 BB's 90 K's. I will watch out for him as the Rays closer of the future if Friedman doesn't trade him for a bum reliever (like Qualls for Gorgen).

    5. KillaTapes says:

      I'd take Andy of '08 any day. Such a fun pitcher to watch when he's on.

    6. werD says:

      Hey Joe or Cork, do you guys think theres any chance the Rays move Neimann to the pen (closer role) this spring training? i would love to see him at least get a few innings in a save situation just to see how he handles himself. thoughts?

      • Joe says:

        When we had the 6 SP's, I almost thought that was a likely fix for our 9th inning problem but not this year. When they are ready for their next stud to come up, Neimann may become the closer unless McGee has locked it down by then.


    Leave a Comment