Tigers should do the right thing and bench Cabrera

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Let’s just forget for a minute the domestic assault, though I still have a frightened woman’s voice running through my head.
Miguel Cabrera betrayed his team on Friday night. It’s one thing to blow off some steam after a tough loss. It’s entirely another for a 250-pound man to blow a 0.26 on a breath test likely at least an hour or so after he stopped drinking.
That’s enough steam to power a locomotive from Detroit to Minneapolis.
And this was the Tigers’ biggest weekend of the year. Cabrera’s wife called 911 at 6 a.m. Saturday morning. This wasn’t a player going out for a couple of hours and then coming home. He was out nearly until dawn, and now the guess is that he was at a hotel partying with one or more members of the White Sox.
Sure, the Tigers could have been all forgive and forget had he shaken off his hangover and launched a homer or two in the series against the White Sox. But he went 0-for-11 with a walk, including 0-for-7 in the two games after the incident. In the bottom of the eighth inning of Saturday’s loss, he grounded into a double play to kill a potential rally with one run already in.
Obviously, the MVP candidate was nowhere near 100 percent that night. Cabrera let his employers down. You know, the ones who signed him to a $152.3 million contract a year and a half ago. He let his teammates down. He let his fans down. And he clearly let his family down.
If he were Adam Everett or Marcus Thames, the Tigers would take a stand and bench him on Tuesday. He’s Miguel Cabrera, though, so it’s not going to happen.
In the Tigers’ defense, that’d just be letting his teammates and the team’s fans down again. The Tigers have worked too hard for seven months to see it all vanish because the team took a stand against its cleanup hitter. Cabrera, though, deserves the fate, and he’ll certainly have some explaining to do this winter.
Dating back to his days with the Marlins, there have been concerns about how Cabrera takes care of himself. He’d never been in trouble with the law before — that we know of — but he wasn’t as into conditioning as anyone would have liked. That’s a big reason why he’s now a full-time first baseman; he began his pro career as a shortstop and showed some early promise at third base.
Hopefully, he’ll be scared straight by the incident. All signs point to him avoiding criminal charges for the scuffle with his wife that left both with minor injuries. If he were a lesser player, the complete lack of regard for his team would probably make him a trade candidate this winter. The Tigers, though, will stand by him, and perhaps he’ll reward them in the end.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
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The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.