Rangers’ Cruz, Hamilton, to play Monday

On the heels of a 7-game road trip, the Texas Rangers will return home to Arlington and have two presents waiting for them: Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton. Both are expected to be in the lineup Monday against the White Sox. Bringing these two back onto the 25-man roster will have a significant ripple effect.

First who will get taken off the roster to make room? The most obvious candidates are Taylor Teagarden, Chris Davis, and Endy Chavez. The Rangers carried Teagarden through their first inter-league series where a third catcher can be valuable. Davis has started to hit better, but still can’t seem to hit breaking pitches.  All three can be optioned, but Chavez might be placed on the DL with a tight hamstring. None of those three should be on a fantasy roster, so that doesn’t affect fantasy moves.

The second ripple is that Hamilton will exclusively DH for at least the first two series back and Cruz will be in right field. Michael Young has been the Rangers’ most consistent hitter, so he’s staying in the field, and will rotate amongst the infield positions. This will hurt Mike Napoli’s playing time. Texas is expected to face two lefties in the next 6 games (Monday and Friday), so Napoli should start them at catcher, but not in the other 4 games. The way he’s swung the bat lately, it might be a good idea.

Every infielder should also get at least one game off this week. We could see Michael Young play 2nd and 3rd at some point in the 6 games against Chicago and Kansas City giving Kinsler and Beltre a day off. Andres Blanco will probably give Elvis Andrus a day off as well. So basically there are only two position players you can count on to play every game next week, and that’s Nelson Cruz and Michael Young. Look for scouting reports early.

Projection (Hamilton): 105 games (out of remaining 114), .315, 22 home runs, 70 RBI’s, 60 runs scored, 1 steal.

Projection (Cruz): 108 games (out of remaining 114), .290, 26 home runs, 65 RBI’s, 54 runs scored, 5 steals.

Nelson Cruz hits the DL – Rangers offense sputters

Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz was placed on the Disabled List today with a strained right quadriceps muscle.

Cruz had struggled since his epic 1st week of the season, down to a .219 batting average and a .741 OPS, well below the .318 and .950 he hit last season. In his last 6 games before he went on the DL, Cruz had gone 2-23 with 8 strikeouts and 2 walks.

Nellie was on the DL last season three times for hamstring issues, so leg issues are not foreign to him.  Hopefully the time off will help him regain his focus.

Analysis: While the Boomstick is sidelined, Mitch Moreland will see regular playing time in the outfield. Mitch has been solid in his second season, with 11 RBI’s and 15 runs in 30 games, along with 4 home runs. His lefty/right splits are horrific (.100/.280/.100 vs. .315/.383/.616), but with Craig Gentry as the only other outfield option, Moreland will get his chances to experience “growing pains” against left-handed pitchers. But remember, he did blast a home run off the Giants’ Jonathan Sanchez in the World Series.

Ron Washington could also change up the lineup, dropping Kinsler to a run-producing spot. But that might just be against left-handed pitchers.

NOTE: Moreland is hitting 7th tonight against the Yankees against RHP Bartolo Colon.

Recommendations: While Moreland has nice potential, his numbers against lefties does not bode well for a two-week stint in fantasy baseball. Both Gerardo Parra (owned in 1% of leagues) and Nate McClouth (owned in 11% of leagues) are top-50 players over the last two weeks and have higher ceilings across the board.