Nelson Cruz on the Rangers for the playoffs would be an “embarrassment?” Really?

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Headline from Tim Colishaw’s latest at The Dallas Morning News:

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Call me crazy, but I feel like missing the playoffs in a late-season collapse would be way worse than playing in them with Cruz. Or even losing in the first round because they don’t have Cruz. But I suppose there are many different levels of embarrassment.

As for the column, everything you need to know comes in this passage:

If the Rangers do qualify and bring back Cruz, one can argue that he served his suspension and paid his debt. I don’t necessarily disagree with that since I’ve stated there is a certain unsettling witch-hunt atmosphere to this pursuit of athletes, particularly in baseball, who use substances to try to enhance their careers.

But …

Put differently: “I believe X about Nelson Cruz, but I have a column to crank out so I’m going to give voice to an argument to the contrary that I just got done telling you I really don’t agree with.” Oh, and the argument to the contrary is basically “some Texas Rangers used PEDs 15 years ago, so maybe the Rangers should tie an arm behind their back if they make the playoffs and sit Cruz in order to pay penance. Or something.” I don’t see anyone calling for the A’s to pay for Jose Canseco’s sins, but maybe Texas has a higher level of moral expectation. I don’t know.

How about this: we treat drug suspensions like every other suspension. When a player is done serving his suspension, he’s done. I realize the Giants made a different call with Melky Cabrera, and yes they got away with it, but I’m not sure how making decisions that weaken your ballclub has suddenly  become reasonable precedent.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.