Mark Madden

Mark Madden

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SHOULD CRUZ BE DEMOTED?

I spoke to a veteran of the Pittsburgh sports media about shortstop Oneil Cruz. 

Cruz, of course, is wowing Bucco fans and the team’s stooge media by doing certain things well, soiling the bed in other areas and having occasional spectacular moments. Some have him pegged as a NL Rookie of the Year candidate. 

No Rookie of the Year ever hit .204, though. Or walked twice in 56 plate appearances. 

It’s a small sample, to be sure. But it’s not a great sample, or a well-rounded sample. 

I’m told batting average doesn’t matter. But nobody hitting .204 is doing a good job. 

The local media veteran said it thusly: “I don’t think Cruz is ready for the major leagues. Wait ‘til he goes through the [NL] a second time and everybody’s seen him. He’s hitting .204, and that’s before teams have any kind of book on him.” 

Ouch. Hadn’t thought of that. 

With shortstop Kevin Newman just about ready to rejoin the team after coming off the 60-day injured list, the Pirates should do what’s best for Cruz’s development. 

Not what excites the fans. But what makes Cruz a better player (and the Pirates a winner) in the long run. Perhaps that’s going to AAA. 

That’s not what the fans want. The stooge media will implode. 

But that’s how you run a winning baseball team. 

Anyway, if fans are so excited, how come the Pirates are fourth-last in MLB attendance? 

Of course, crowds at PNC Park will be inflated these next two games because lots of New York Yankees fans will show up to watch their team. 

But that’s the Pirates’ specialty: They’re masters of the false dawn. 

Cincinnati Reds v Pittsburgh Pirates

Photo: Getty Images


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