Monday, August 2, 2010

Ex-Twins watch: Orlando Cabrera

This has to be said for Orlando Cabrera in his bounce-around years: He finds his way onto winning teams.

He's missed out on the playoffs just once in the last six seasons — five playoff trips for four different organizations (Boston, Angels, White Sox, Twins). This year's model of the O-Cab is on the Cincinnati Reds, and the Reds have hit August running essentially dead-even with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Cabrera's numbers are down this season — .259/.299/.340 — and at age 35 his defense isn't of the highest caliber. Both Win Shares and Wins Above Replacement — both complex attempts to distill everything a player does into one number — ranks him as the weakest regular in the Cincinnati lineup. (Stats found on The Baseball Gauge)

But he's not preventing them from winning. Shortstop is not a gaping wound for the Reds. Very few, if any, teams in major league history have had a star, or even an above average player, at every position. Even good teams have a regular whose function (to extend the "gaping wound" metaphor) is as a suture.

That's what Cabrera did late last season for the Twins. That's what he's providing for Cincinnati this summer.

Now, the Reds will be in trouble in the long haul this way. Scott Rolen, who has a lot more to do with the Reds' success than Cabrera does, is also 35; catcher Ramon Hernandez —another plugging-a-gap type — is 34. Manager Dusty Baker prefers veterans, but even he (or his general manager) may realize that this is unsustainable.

So Cabrera may be on the move again this winter — a band-aid shortstop looking for another hole to cover.

1 comment:

  1. From what I saw of Cabrera when he was on the Twins, his strongest suit may be the positive effect he has on the younger players around him, and that makes him a good man to have on the team. I expect him to be coaching somewhere in a very few years.