Nelson Cruz is on a list of 20 players that ESPN Outside the Lines says will be suspended by Major League Baseball for being connected to a Miami-area clinic involved in an on-going performance enhancing drug scandal. Handwritten notes taken by Tony Bosch, founder of the clinic, implicate Cruz, A-Fraud, Ryan Braun and 17 other major and minor league baseball players as having potentially received PEDs from Bosch. OTL says that Major League Baseball will attempt to suspend the players for 100 games, basically double the penalty for a one-time offense.
One source familiar with the case said the commissioner’s office might seek 100-game suspensions for Rodriguez, Braun and other players, the penalty for a second doping offense. The argument, the source said, is the players’ connection to Bosch constitutes one offense, and previous statements to MLB officials denying any such connection or the use of PEDs constitute another.
So, there are mainly two big questions here. First, if the suspensions are handed out, will they stick? The players can appeal the suspensions, and just like the last time with Braun, they will probably go before an arbitrator. I think it’s going to be very hard for MLB to get an arbitrator to agree to uphold a 100 game suspension based on hand-written notes from a discredited “drug dealer” who has only turned “state’s witness” to save his own butt. Does that mean the players will get off clean? Maybe not, arbitration might come to a compromise and suspend each player for 50 games, which is what they would get for a first-time offense. But right now, it does look like MLB will initially hand out 100 game suspensions for the players mentioned.
Second, if Cruz does get suspended for 100 games, 50 games, or whatever, how will that affect the Ranger lineup? Well, Cruz is definitely a long ball threat, but he’s not a great fielder. In the short term, it would mean the Rangers would have to find someone to replace him in right field. Without making any major trade moves, they could move Murphy to right and put Jeff Baker in left, or put Gentry or Baker in right while keeping Murphy in left and Martin in center. I heard one commentator suggest they stick Profar out there just to keep him in the lineup once Kinsler gets back off the DL. I think that’s far-fetched. In fact, I would be less surprised if they stick Kinsler out there and let Jurickson play 2nd.
For the long term, I don’t think that Cruz will be re-signed after his contract expires at the end of this season. So, my guess is the Rangers will be looking for a new right fielder come the trade deadline anyhow, or at least after the season is over. I will try to keep you updated as events unfold.