Blind Observer #4: Cruz Slumps, Grissom Heats Up

As his batting average continues to decline, Jose Cruz Jr. still starts every game. His average has dropped 53 points over the last 15 games. It is time to give him a few days off so he can hit the ball once again. In contrast, Marquis Grissom's average has skyrocketed 83 points in the same amount of time.

Felipe Alou has been adjusting the lineup of his Giants often; yet he has never given Jose Cruz. Jr. much of a break. Cruz has started all 48 of his team's games as the right fielder. While this does make some sense, seeing that Cruz has yet to make a single error, his batting has taken a steep decline.

The struggles of Cruz have become more noticeable since May 10. From May 10 to May 25, Cruz's batting average has dropped from .320 to .267. In those 15 games, Cruz has gone 8 for 55 with 2 doubles and 11 strikeouts.

While it could be argued that a slumping Cruz is better than the Giants backup outfielder Ruben Rivera at his best, Cruz's 8 for 55 gives him a .145 batting average over his past 15 games. That's seven points lower than Rivera's dismal .152. Even though Cruz may still be a better option than Rivera, the Giants would benefit with a more rested Cruz.

Cruz also had a streak going during his slump - a streak for the number of games without driving in a runner. His streak ended at 12 games on May 23 when in a 10-7 Giants loss, he hit a sacrifice fly.

Alou seems very willing to tinker with the lineup, yet Cruz has been a staple in every single game. For the record, Rivera hasn't made a single error this season either. And yes, Cruz will eventually break out of his slump and be back to his normal self. But by giving him some time off, the Giants could speed this process up.

A couple of days off for Cruz would give him the chance to relax, and a heated-up Cruz would be a spark plug for the Giants offense. A couple of days of being stuck Ruben Rivera is worth Jose Cruz Jr. hitting like he was in April.

However, Marquis Grissom has been heating up. Grissom hastacked an amazing 83 points onto his average over the past two weeks. He has gone 27 for his last 59. He currently has a seven-game hitting streak going and has been an outstanding leadoff hitter, hitting .619 (26-42) since he took over the first spot in the batting order.

But doesn't a great leadoff hitter deserve an excellent RBI man? The red-hot Grissom would benefit as well from Cruz taking a break. If given a few days to rejuvenate, Cruz would potentially do a better job of driving him in.

Giving Cruz a few days of rest may not have a huge impact on how the Giants perform as a team. However, given his recent struggles, it is highly unlikely that any negative repercussion will come from such a descision, and it is highly likely to have benefits.

Jesse Radin writes for SFDugout.com and has been a Giants follower since 1996. The Blind Observer is Jesse's column covering all things baseball, though mainly about the Giants. Questions or comments can be sent to electricbassguy@hotmail.com


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