Rangers should have prepared for Cruz suspension

The Texas Rangers knew during spring training there was a decent chance they would lose right fielder Nellie Cruz at some point in the season because of his connection to the Biogenesis scandal. That day arrived Monday, with MLB handing down punishment to several players.

Cruz will be suspended for 50 games, but he will be eligible for the playoffs. He is a big reason why the Rangers have remained in the playoff picture. Cruz has refused to shed any light on his situation throughout the season. There was some thought that he might appeal the suspension in order to keep playing, but that option always seemed like a reach since he’ll become a free agent at the end of this season. He needs a clean slate heading into free agency.

Cruz hit his 27th homer of the season in the Rangers’ 4-0 win over the Oakland A’s on Sunday. In a statement issued shortly after MLB’s announcement, Cruz finally addressed what led to him taking a banned substance.

“I have been notified by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball that I have been suspended for 50 games for violation of the Joint Drug Agreement,” said Cruz in the statement. “I have decided to accept this suspension and not exercise my rights under the Basic Agreement to appeal. From November, 2011 to January, 2012, I was seriously ill with a gastrointestinal infection, helicobacter pylori, which went undiagnosed for over a month. By the time I was properly diagnosed and treated, I had lost 40 pounds. Just weeks before I was to report to spring training in 2012, I was unsure whether I would be physically able to play. Faced with this situation, I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error. I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse. I am thankful for the unwavering support of my family, friends and teammates during this difficult time. I look forward to regaining the trust and respect of the Rangers organization, my teammates and the great Rangers’ fans, and I am grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team for the playoffs.”

Cruz isn’t the first athlete to provide a sob story as explanation for why he took a banned substance. But even if you take Cruz at face value, he still used extremely poor judgment. First of all, he cheated the game and its clean players. But on top of that, he used a clinic where players already under MLB’s microscope such as Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun were clients.

There was a report earlier today that the Rangers were stunned by Cruz’s decision to accept the suspension. General manager Jon Daniels refuted that report, but he did say the organization thought it could go either way. Honestly, though, it would’ve been shocking if Cruz had appealed the suspension. He would’ve compromised his financial future even further by making that decision. Who knows what MLB would have done if Cruz hadn’t accepted the suspension?

If the Rangers failed to add another right-handed bat based on a belief that Cruz was going to fight the suspension, they were being incredibly naive. They will hope that rookies Engel Beltre and Joey Butler can help fill the void in right field. Good luck with that situation.

The Rangers have lived on the home run while winning six of the past seven games. Now, Adrian Beltre is really the only player in the lineup capable of carrying this team with his bat. Ian Kinsler has plenty of pop, but only has 10 homers to show for it this season.

The Rangers will now lean heavily on a pitching rotation that has been fortified by Matt Garza. They will have to be a lot more like the Rays than the Rangers of old. And even with a soft schedule coming up, that’s a lot to ask.

Best piece of news Monday: The Rangers are about to see the Angels’ bullpen again.