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On Nelson Cruz

Ken Rosenthal's latest has some tidbits on the Rangers:

The Rangers, who probably will not trade designated hitter Milton Bradley unless they receive an overwhelming offer, are getting calls on two of their right-handed hitting outfielders — Marlon Byrd and Nelson Cruz, who has hit 31 home runs in 314 at-bats at Class AAA. Both offer versatility; Byrd can play center, Cruz right ...

I agree on Bradley...I think he's likely a Ranger the rest of the year, in part because I think the Rangers want to bring him back after the season (and however nice the "trade him and then re-sign him" idea seems in theory, practically speaking, it is problematic), and in part because I don't think there's a team out there that is going to give up a whole lot for him, given his injury history and reputation.

Cruz is a more interesting topic, and more and more, I've been seeing people urging the Rangers to call up Cruz and let him play right field regularly the rest of the way.

Personally, I think it makes more sense to go ahead and leave him in the minors, and then get whatever you can for him at the trade deadline, and move on. 

Why not call him up now, if your plan is to trade him?  Personally, I don't think calling him up can do anything but hurt his trade value.  If he comes up and hits well in a week or two of semi-regular playing time, I don't think it does anything to help his value.  But if he comes up and flops, I think it does make him less attractive.  Letting him continue to mash in AAA is the best way to keep his value up.

The other argument is to hold onto him...don't let him go elsewhere, but keep him here and see if he can be at least a part-time outfielder for the Rangers.

The problem there, though, that I see is that, strange as it may seem, the Rangers have gone from having holes in the outfield to being pretty full up there.  You have Hamilton locked into centerfield, and I think the Rangers would like to bring Milton Bradley back next season and have him get the majority of the playing time in right field.  If Bradley isn't your right fielder, you've got John Mayberry, Jr., who would seem likely to end up out there, unless you decide that Brandon Boggs should be playing every day.

And you also have Julio Borbon, who I'm starting to think likely is going to push Hamilton to right field in the next season or two.  And your DH position looks like it is going to be filled by Max Ramirez when Bradley or Hamilton isn't using it to get a day off.

Going with Cruz requires a commitment to him that it just doesn't necessarily look sensible to make right now.  He's 28 years old, has had opportunities here, hasn't done much with them, and looks to have been passed up by guys like Murphy, Boggs and Mayberry.  I think it makes the most sense to see if you can get something halfway decent for him, a Beau Jones type A ball live arm, and move on.

If no one wants to give you anything better than a Scott Shoemaker or Michael Hernandez for him, and you can turn Marlon Byrd into something decent?  In that case, I'd maybe move Byrd and let Cruz have the 4th outfielder role for the final two months.  But I wouldn't be pencilling Cruz in as part of the long-term future of this team, even in that case.