They also signed 26 year old minor league free agent Francisco Cruceta to a contract and added him to the 40 man roster. Pitching mostly as a reliever for AAA Oklahoma City in 2007, the right-hander had a 3.02 ERA and 70/40 K/BB ratio in 65 2/3 innings. So, he can strike guys out but also has some control issues. Perhaps, the best thing about his 2007 season was that he just allowed 2 homers. The gopher ball has been a problem for him in the past. He has been impressive in the Dominican Winter league posting a 1.02 ERA in 14 appearances.
According to the 2007 Baseball Prospectus Annual, he has a fastball that touches the mid 90s, as well as a sinker, curve and splitter. He has a a 3.80 ERA and an 8.2 k/9 IP ratio in 824 2/3 innings over 6 minor league seasons. Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski expects Cruceta to compete for a job in the Tigers bullpen:
Cruceta has pitched very well this winter in the Dominican Republic," Dombrowski said. "He is a quality prospect and we expect him to compete for a spot in our bullpen in 2008."To make room for Rogers and Cruceta on the 40 man roter, the Tigers also designated first baseman Chris Shelton and outfielder Timo Perez for assignment. Shelton has been a disappointment since his incredible start in April, 2006. He batted .269/.381/.420 for Toledo in 498 at bats in 2007. Maybe a change of scenery in a new organization would be the best thing for him. I like Shelton and I wish him well wherever he ends up.
Perez captured lightning in a bottle batting .389 in 90 at bats for the Tigers down the stretch this year. However, with the acquisition of Jacque Jones, there is no longer any room for him in a crowded outfield.