Should the Tigers shop Miguel Cabrera?

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The Detroit News’ Lynn Henning is speculating/fantasizing this morning about the Tigers trading Miguel Cabrera.  Cabrera for Clay Buchholz is mentioned.  Like so many other stories this time of the year it’s based on nothing other than a no comment from a General Manager and informed speculation (i.e. the fact that the Red Sox could clearly use and afford the guy), but such is the wood that keeps the hot stove burning.

I think the key thing animating this topic is not to immediately assume that just because a guy has a high salary that he should be moved when a team is cost cutting as the Tigers are presumed to be doing.

Yes, certainly Cabrera is the most expensive Tiger, but is he unreasonably expensive? Cabrera will make $20 million in 2010 and 2011, and beyond that he will make $21 million in 2012 and 2013, and $22 million in 2014 and in 2015.  If you believe the values that FanGraphs places on players based on their production, Cabrera’s 2009 season was worth around $24 million. His 2009 production: just about his career averages. Those prices? Probably at or even below what any given team will pay for its best player between now and 2015.

Cabrera will be 32 years-old at the end of this deal.  If he stays healthy, it’s reasonable to assume that he’ll earn his keep from a production perspective through the length of the contract.  The Tigers will still need to pay a first baseman. They will still need someone to hit the ball. They will still need to give fans a reason to come to the park. Cabrera is likely to provide all of those things, and even if it’s at a high rate of pay, it’s not at an unreasonable rate of pay based on what he can do with the bat.  Value, in other words, is more important than cost.

But as Henning notes, health is a complicated issue for Cabrera. Was that incident on the final weekend of the season isolated, or is he a booze hound in training?  If the former, you have to keep Cabrera, I think, and do everything you can to keep him on the straight and narrow.  If the latter, take whatever you can get for the guy and go on your merry way. 

James McCann is in The Best Shape of His Life

Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann blows a bubble while warming up during a spring training baseball workout, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016, in Lakeland, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
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As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.

We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.

James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:

Spring training is less than a month away, folks!

Bo Jackson is not gonna change kids’ minds

1989:  Bo Jackson #16 of the Kansas City Royals practices his swing as he prepares to bat during a game in the 1989 season.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”

Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:

Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.

You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.

Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.

The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”

Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.

This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.