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.

Gerrit Cole set to begin throwing program

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates sits in the dugout in the second inning during the game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on August 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.

The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.

The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.

The White Sox wanted Astros’ top prospects for Jose Quintana

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 27:  Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.

It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:

We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.

While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.

Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.