Andy Pratt traded

AP Wire | 03/25/2004 | Cubs trade Cruz, Smyth to Braves

Two prospects go each way, but the deal is essentially Andy Pratt for Juan Cruz. Pratt had been impressive in spring and was supposedly all but on the roster. The Cubs needed a lefty, plus with Mark Prior hurting they needed rotation insurance.

Cruz was a hot prospect three years ago, looking great in 2001. But he wasn’t great in 2002, and Dusty Baker took a dislike to him and banished him to Iowa, where he was good, and the end of the pen, where he stank, last season. He has great stuff, but so do lots of guys. The Braves keep talking about Alfonseca’s great stuff and Almanza’s great stuff, and look at them. But it’s worth a gamble; Pratt doesn’t project to be anything more than a serviceable major leaguer, while Cruz has the ability to be much more.

The Braves also gave up infielder Richard Lewis in the deal. Lewis is not very good, one of the Braves’ many failed high draft picks.. Steve Smyth, whom the Braves received, is a nobody minor league lefty who is unlikely to ever have much of a major league career.

Brad likes the deal.

(Thanks to Snellville Jones for pointing this out.)

12 thoughts on “Andy Pratt traded”

  1. Good analysis, Mac.

    Cruz does have great stuff, but he’s also as skinny as a rail and could break down at any time. He’s so thin he makes Pedro Martinez and Julian Tavarez look like Terry Forster.

    And Steve Smyth has already had not much of a major league career. His 2002 line is downright horrific (it’s just seven starts, but seven starts is about a quarter of a season for a lot of starting pitchers). I can’t possibly do justice to how bad he was. Just check it out for yourself (be sure to note the numbers under “ERA” and “HR”)…

    http://baseballreference.com/s/smythst01.shtml

    All that said, I like the deal. You’d think Leo will be able to get inside Cruz’s head and harness something useful. Pratt was a good prospect, but the Braves’ system seems to churn out two or three guys just like him every year.

  2. David the Baseball Savant has a great in-depth look at Cruz:

    http://baseballsavant.blogspot.com/

    He thinks we may have just gotten a future No. 1 or No. 2 starter for peanuts (no offense, Andy). But that we really need him to switch places with Jaret Wright, wright away:

    If Cruz gets 28-29 starts, the Braves are starting to look a whole lot better. If he comes out of the pen, the Braves look exactly the same.

  3. If Reitsma pushes Cruze into the rotation, it’s not that bad. Bong and Nelson weren’t going to be starters in Atlanta, which means they were fungible.

  4. Wasn’t it only about a month ago when everyone sorta was figuring Nelson would join the rotation this year and be the new Horacio/Moss/etc..?

    I would have thought he would have been worth more to the Braves than this, especially with Wainwright and Pratt gone too.

    But maybe Sam is right and this means Cruz is the “next young starter” guy, which would probably be a good thing.

  5. Actually, I think I just figured out the good news here: this very well may be the sign that JS and Bobby realize that octopus won’t be any good.

  6. I hope so, re: octopus. Reitsma is younger than I thought (26) and had a great June through August run last year, where he posted a 2.02 ERA with 32K/9BB. He gives up a bunch of home runs, though — 14 in 84 innings.

  7. Do the Braves not trust their minor league system to develop young pitchers? By trading Wainright and Nelson, they’ve shipped their two top pitching prospects for other teams’ prospects in a matter of months. Has the system changed so much from the days of developing Glavine/Avery/Millwood/Schmidt/etc.?

  8. Here’s to Cruz starting (and probably surpassing Horacio), Reitsma setting up, Smoltz’s elbow holding together, and Alfonseca not pitching a single inning!

    On a related note, I’m always amused by the number of Primates that come out of the woodwork to post here and at No Pepper. Hi Sam – love your columns.

  9. Well, the Cruz move depends on how much you think about Dusty’s abillity with pitchers. IMO, Dusty Baker is a good manager, but he is the worst manager in baseball when it comes to handling pitchers. Cruz just went from the worst to the best.

    At the end of the 2002 season, where Mac says Cruz stunk, Cruz was great. Post AS game, Cruz posted a 2.32 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP and a .198 BAA in 23 appearances out of the bullpen. He was making big time progress until Dusty Baker came in and screwed him up.

    He looks like a young Pedro Martinez to me. I believe this season, he could be like Pedro was in 1993 when LA was bringing him out of the bullpen.

  10. Thanks for the kudos, Kyle. For the most part my feedback tends to be obscene.

    Topically, Justin asks:

    Do the Braves not trust their minor league system to develop young pitchers? By trading Wainright and Nelson, they’ve shipped their two top pitching prospects for other teams’ prospects in a matter of months. Has the system changed so much from the days of developing Glavine/Avery/Millwood/Schmidt/etc.?

    Generally, I think the answer is “yes.” The Braves haven’t turned out a number one starter since Schmidt (who took a long time to become so) and Millwood (who is really more of a number two starter but will do in a pinch at number one.) What the Braves’ system has turned out instead are offensive players, oddly enough. Chipper, Ryan Klesko, Javy Lopez, Andruw, Furcal and now Giles. It goes against conventional wisdom, but in the last 10 years the Braves have been much better at developing offensive players than pitchers. Other than Glavine, Smoltz, Millwood (and now perhaps Horacio Ramirez) the team has depended on identifying and “salvaging” talent from other teams. Maddux was a free agent from the Cubs. Neagle was a trade from Pittsburgh. Etc., et. al.

    In the nit-picking column, it bears mentioning that Adam Wainwright was not traded for prospects, pitching or otherwise. He was traded for J.D. Drew, an established major league RF who is an offensive force if healthy.

    s/

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