As Trade Deadline passes, focus shifts to in-house offensive options
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers were unable to achieve their goal of adding more offense before Wednesday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. The Rangers are still holding out hope they can add a bat during August, but the bigger concern is the immediate future of Lance Berkman and Nelson Cruz.
Both were expected to be a big part of the Rangers' offense coming into the season. Now the possibility exists both could be unavailable for the rest of the season. A decision concerning each player appears imminent.
The Rangers are awaiting word if Cruz will be suspended by Major League Baseball for his association with Biogenesis. The closed-down Miami clinic allegedly distributed performance-enhancing drugs to a number of Major League players including Cruz, and Major League Baseball is reportedly close to announcing suspensions.
Cruz could stay the suspension by filing an appeal. If so, that would allow him to remain with the club possibly to the end of the season until the process is complete. There have been discussions about Cruz going ahead and filing an appeal, but he has not made a final decision.
"That's something that's out of our control," general manager Jon Daniels said. "When it happens, if it happens, we'll deal with it. Based on media reports, I know it's a possibility. Right now he's in the lineup tonight and until something happens, he's a part of this team."
Cruz entered Wednesday's game hitting .271 with a .501 slugging percentage and was leading the team with 24 home runs and 72 RBIs.
"If that happens, hopefully not, it's going to hurt us a lot," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "He's a big guy. He's a big presence in the lineup, one of the power guys. It makes a lot of difference when he's there playing offensively and defensively."
"If the guys did what they did, the penalties are the penalties," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "You know the penalties going in and if you choose to do that, you get what you get. There's nothing you can do about it. You can't cry over it. You can't feel sorry for anybody because they made the decision and they're grown men. That's the way it is, and that's how baseball should be. We want a level playing field."
Berkman is expected to meet with Daniels soon to discuss his situation. He is trying to get back on the field but is on the disabled list with inflammation in his left hip. He also is dealing with chronic soreness in his right knee.
Berkman knows the Rangers need offensive help but is still uncertain if he can contribute at the level required.
"I think physically I could probably do it, but it's a matter of how efficient I'll be when I get out there," Berkman said. "That's where the rubber meets the road. I want to do what's right for the organization. That's a factor, but I haven't decided what's the best thing."
Right now Berkman is planning to join the Rangers on their coming road trip to Oakland, Anaheim and Houston. But the Rangers understand that he's not going to be ready to be activated anytime soon.
"I think he's trying, but we're all at the mercy of how our bodies respond," Daniels said. "I don't think his body is responding to the time off and treatment. Maybe more time off will help. We'll talk about it, but so far it hasn't helped. The biggest thing is this is a guy with a lot of pride who has accomplished a lot in this game and is not able to perform at a level that he wants to."
The Rangers tried trading for offensive help but found the asking price too high. They talked to the White Sox about Alex Rios but weren't interested in sending pitchers Martin Perez and Luke Jackson to Chicago. That was the kind of talent that clubs were demanding for the few offensive players that were available.
"There was not a lot out there that appealed to us," Daniels said. "You saw the offensive players that were moved ... I don't know if there was one. That's indicative of the market and the general landscape of the game. We explored some deals and exchanged some names. It wasn't for a lack of interest or a lack of effort. It was more of a lack of supply and depth.
"We went into it open to upgrading the club, and we're maintaining that. We'll still look to upgrade in August."
Daniels, who made one big acquisition this month by trading for pitcher Matt Garza, said he still believes the Rangers are a playoff team. But because of the composition of the Rangers, they no longer can rely on being an offensive powerhouse. Instead the Rangers are team that will rely on pitching, defense and being able to somehow score four runs a night.
"The strength of our club is the pitching staff," Daniels said. "That's how we're built. We have to win a little different way, but if we can pitch and scratch our way to four runs a night, I like our chances. We hit a rough stretch, but we like our team and we like our chances."