Texas has big shoes to fill if Cruz is suspended

The Oakland Athletics must be looking squarely in their rearview mirrors as the Texas Rangers are climbing their way back into contention for the American League West title.

Oakland leads the division with a record of 63-46 but has lost three straight and is just 5-5 over its past 10 games. Texas on the other hand has won five straight to raise their record to 61-49 and now just trail the A’s by 2½ games.

Nevertheless, the Rangers have a huge cloud over their heads and manager Ron Washington has a tremendous weight on his shoulders.

The Rangers entire organization is waiting to hear the fate of Nelson Cruz their power-hitting outfielder who has been tied to the scandal with Biogenesis of America and performance enhancing drugs.

A suspension is looming for the outfielder and could take place as soon as this weekend. The consensus is he will be suspended at least 50 games and if that is the case, he would sidelined until the postseason.

If Cruz does not fight his suspension, the Rangers would lose one of their two top hitters in the lineup, with the other being Adrian Beltre.

Cruz at this point of the season has 26 home runs and 75 RBIs to lead the team in both categories. His batting average is .277, in 106 games.

This season Cruz has moved up and down the lineup. Hitting third sometimes and even dropping to as low as seventh for some games.

Regardless of what place he has in the Texas lineup, he has been told to drive in runs and he has not disappointed management, his teammates or fans.

If Cruz is not available to play, the Rangers will have to replace him with any number of players. Jeff Baker has played just over 40 games and has 9 homers and 16 RBIs. David Murphy has played regularly but his production is way off with just 11 home runs and a .221 batting average.

Thoughts have been made as to bringing up 41-year old veteran Manny Ramirez from Triple A where he is hitting .266 with 3 home runs and 12 RBIs in just 21 games.

Veteran Lance Berkman could take Cruz’s spot in the lineup eventually, but he is currently on the disabled list.

It appears however, Jeff Baker will be given the biggest opportunity to take the role of Cruz when the veteran outfielder is suspended.

He is currently batting .313 to go along with his 9 home runs and 16 RBIs in only 42 games. With Cruz sidelined, the Rangers could put Baker as the permanent leftfielder moving Murphy over to right field.

Nevertheless, even with a contingent of players taking the place of Cruz, the team will suffer the loss of the outfielder greatly.

Losing Cruz will hurt the Rangers, but in their favor is the rest of their schedule. Starting next week the Rangers have 24 straight games against teams that at this time are under .500.

During mid September, they have a tough stretch with series against Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Oakland and Kansas City, but besides that, 34 of their last 52 games are against subpar performing teams.

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