Royals acquire catcher Tony Cruz from Cardinals

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One day after signing Brayan Pena to be catcher Yadier Molina‘s new backup the Cardinals have traded Molina’s old backup, Tony Cruz, to the Royals for minor leaguer Jose Martinez.

Cruz played sparingly as Molina’s understudy, totaling 633 plate appearances in five seasons and topping out at 151 trips to the plate in 2015. He also hit terribly, posting a .220 batting average and .572 OPS while homering just five times and drawing 32 walks compared to 117 strikeouts.

There’s really nothing in Cruz’s track record to suggest he’s anything but a very bad hitter, but he’ll still be an upgrade for the Royals because the man he’s replacing as Salvador Perez‘s backup, Drew Butera, is one of the worst hitters in MLB history.

Molina was the most durable, never-on-the-bench catcher in baseball for many years and now Perez holds that title, so say what you will about Cruz but he certainly has a knack for finding homes where he won’t be required to actually play much.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

Minnesota Twis v Kansas City Royals
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.