With reports surfacing that Texas Rangers star right fielder Nelson Cruz being tied to a company called Biogenisis of America that has not-so-affectionately been labeled by some as the “BALCO of the East”, the question of who will be roaming the outfield at the Ballpark this summer has gotten much more urgent.
Assuming Cruz gets slapped with the mandatory 50-game suspension from the MLB for a first offense related to performance-enhancing drugs, the Rangers will be left searching in desperation for a new right fielder for the first third of the season.
In large part, the Rangers front office could have had the foresight to prevent this issue from slowly morphing into an outfield disaster had they either prevented the departure of Josh Hamilton to the Los Angeles Angels — which Jon Daniels still claims blindsided him — or made the moves necessary to secure high-profile Arizona Diamondbacks free agent and newly-minted Atlanta Braves leader, Justin Upton.
They did neither.
As it stands, should Cruz indeed be suspended by the MLB and miss the first third of the season — the outfield as a whole and not just right field could turn into one big game of musical chairs.
When you take a quick glance at the Rangers’ depth chart the names that could be roaming the greenery — especially if Cruz is absent — don’t exactly impress:
— David Murphy — Career .285 hitter who really was never intended to be a starter.
— Leonys Martin— Big-money international signing who had 46 at-bats in garbage time in 2012.
After that, some mixture of Craig Gentry, Julio Borbon, Jeff Baker and Lance Berkman will share the outfield roles. Not exactly the awe-inspiring lineup the Rangers once held claim to during their more recent glory days.
It’s too early to do a postmortem on Nelson Cruz — obviously — given the allegations against him have just surfaced and there’s still plenty of due diligence left to be done, but if he indeed is absent in the early going the Rangers will have plenty of questions to answer in the outfield.