Nelson Cruz won’t be going anywhere this season

Posted Monday, Jun. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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engel Here is why, if you are a fan of the Texas Rangers, you should feel good that Nelson Cruz will not be suspended this season: He is in New York City, the home of not only the New York Yankees professional baseball club but also the home offices of our good friends at Major League Baseball.

Given Cruz’s proximity to the MLB office, you would think this may be a good time for the Rangers right fielder to be summoned for a chat about his involvement with the now infamous anti-aging clinic that allegedly provided — cough, cough — “services” to Cruz and a load of other MLBers.

Monday was an off-day for the Rangers, yet Cruz was not invited to the third floor of 245 Park Ave.

If baseball suspended Cruz for 50 games today, he would be eligible to return on Aug. 23 for a three-game series against the White Sox. If baseball suspended him today for 100 games, his season would be over.

Baseball owes it to the clubs with potentially affected players to move quickly so the players facing 50-game suspensions can return for a September run.

Every minute that passes, however, says nothing is going to happen during the 2013 season. Nothing baseball has ever done with the players union has moved any quicker than a dying tortoise.

Rangers fans may not admire MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, or the players union, but, in the case of Cruz, thank God both parties love to give their lawyers tons and tons of money for services rendered.

These two highly litigious entities are armed with so many lawyers that it should benefit Cruz and the rest of the Biogenesis Bunch. The group of 20-plus players may yet be suspended, but every day that passes probably means punishments won’t be handed out, and agreed on, until 2014.

This is the best possible scenario for the Rangers, who, barring injury, should retain the motivated services of their leading home run hitter and RBI man in a free-agent season without losing him for a 50- or 100-game suspension.

The Miami New Times broke this major story in late January and since then nothing has officially happened. Today is June 25.

This story may look and sound like just another case of ballplayers looking for a boost, which it may very well be; it also contains so many shady characters and circumstantial evidence that a lawyer should have fun in defending his clients, attacking the claims and then appealing a ruling.

Those things take time, especially if it’s 20 players. Lawyers and arbitrators normally don’t care to work fast.

These realities should keep Cruz in the lineup for the rest of the season. What this potential outcome does to his value as a free agent, however, is another matter.

If he is suspended and is to serve it in the 2014 season, figure his asking price, in what should be the biggest contract of his life, will be damaged.

It may give the Rangers the chance at a slight discount to keep what has been a reliable run producer, and a good pro, in their lineup.

They may have some guys who can replace his production next season and beyond, but right now the Rangers need his bat, streaky as it may be.

Players who can hit high-caliber major league pitching — think a No. 1 or No. 2 starter and a serious reliever — are uncommon, and the Rangers have a few. Adrian Beltre is one, as is Ian Kinsler. A.J. Pierzynski, Mitch Moreland and Lance Berkman are maybes. Cruz is a proven certainty.

To lose him during September would be a blow this lineup can’t be expected to overcome.

As it stands today, both the club and the fans should be wary because there is time for MLB to screw this up and wreck Cruz’s season. To be fair, he had a role in this, too. His name is linked with the Biogenesis Bunch for a reason.

To do this right in terms of due process, baseball must act now, or wait until season’s end — and then the guilty players will serve their suspensions in 2014.

Cruz will have to address what happened to baseball’s authorities, but the way things are progressing right now that won’t be for a while.

Long enough to expect him to remain in the lineup through the end of the season.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @macengelprof

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