posted on Mar, 25 2004 @ 06:07 PM
The Chicago Cubs traded pitchers Juan Cruz and Steve Smyth to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday for minor league left-hander Andy Pratt and infielder
The Cubs cut ties with Cruz three seasons after the right-hander made an impressive debut in Chicago, going 3-1 with a 3.22 ERA in 11 starts in
He fell to 3-11 with a 3.98 ERA the next season, pitching mainly out of the bullpen, and was 2-7 last year with a 6.05 ERA.
"It's not something that I went into the spring shopping Cruz at all. It wasn't like I felt I had to move him. He's been such a good prospect for
us," Cubs general manager Jim Hendry said. "When he first came up with us a couple years ago, he had the great September. He hasn't been quite as
consistent ever since. Some of that was probably attributed to the back-and-forth role of the 'pen-start, the 'pen-start last year. Sometimes guys
will blossom when they get a change of scenery. Hopefully, it will be a good trade for both."
The Braves liked Cruz's potential.
"The kind of arm [Cruz] has is hard to come by," general manager John Schuerholz said. "We can use him out of the bullpen or in the starting
rotation. I feel a lot better about our pitching staff because this is a quality guy."
Smyth was 6-11 with a 5.23 ERA last year for Triple-A Iowa. He has a career record of 36-32 with a 4.11 ERA in 97 minor league starts.
Pratt was in the running for the fifth starter's job in Atlanta and could fill that role early in the season for the Cubs while Mark Prior sits out
with inflammation in his right Achilles tendon.
Pratt led the International League in strikeouts last season with 161 and was 7-10 in 27 starts with a 3.40 for Triple-A Richmond. He made five
appearances this spring, giving up one earned run in eight innings. He struck out eight and walked six.
"I'm sure I'll beat myself into the ground about what I could have done, but I thought I did my best to make it here," Pratt said. "The Braves gave
me a good opportunity and I'm hoping for the same thing in Chicago."