Detroit Tigers v New York Yankees

Miguel Cabrera is in the best shape of his life


UPDATE:  In addition to saying that Miguel Cabrera was going to have the biggest year of his life — see below — Jim Leyland just threw one right into my wheelhouse.  Jeff Passan is on the scene passing quotes along:

“Miguel Cabrera is in the best shape of his life. He’s stronger than he’s ever been. And he’s quicker than he’s ever been.”

The BSOML meme is officially broken.  I can’t write about it with a straight face anymore. Well, I probably still will, but I’ll never top Leyland.  Leyland went on to say this about Cabrera’s arrest:

“It has no effect. It might make some dramatic reading material. It’s not going to do shit. Believe me. Nothing.”

I laud Leyland for having his player’s back. But that’s a bridge too far. Cabrera may have a good season because, after all, he’s a great player.  But the man also has a serious problem with alcohol, and that’s not nothing. There will be an effect. There has to be, because Miguel Cabrera needs to change his life.

9:06 A.M.: Jim Leyland spoke to reporters this morning. I would not have guessed beforehand that this is something he’d say about Miguel Cabrera

“he’s probably going to have the biggest year of his life”

Well, it has certainly started out with a bang.

Although I suppose it’s entirely possible too.  If there is any bright side at all to this — and yes, I realize I’m reaching — it’s that this happened just as spring training is getting underway.  There are obviously major issues to deal with here — this was not a case of one too many beers at the barbecue — but he has a month and a half in which his primary job is to focus on physical conditioning. And those around him, including Leyland, the front office, teammates and other, have more time to help him get his head right than they would if the routines of the regular season were underway.

At least that’s the hope.

NL Wild Card Game: Cubs vs. Pirates lineups

Jake Arrieta

Here are the Cubs and Pirates lineups for tonight’s Wild Card game in Pittsburgh:

CF Dexter Fowler
RF Kyle Schwarber
LF Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
3B Tommy La Stella
2B Starlin Castro
C Miguel Montero
SS Addison Russell
SP Jake Arrieta

Cubs manager Joe Maddon wanted Tommy La Stella in the lineup over Jorge Soler or Chris Coghlan, so he starts at third base and Kris Bryant shifts to left field. Bryant started just four games in left field all season, compared to 136 starts at third base. Also of note: After batting Addison Russell ninth–behind the pitcher–116 times this season Maddon has him in the more traditional eighth spot tonight.

RF Gregory Polanco
3B Josh Harrison
CF Andrew McCutchen
LF Starling Marte
C Francisco Cervelli
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
1B Sean Rodriguez
SP Gerrit Cole

Pedro Alvarez started 119 games at first base for the Pirates and with right-hander Jake Arrieta on the mound he was the presumed starter tonight, but instead manager Clint Hurdle has benched the 27-homer slugger in favor of utility man Sean Rodriguez. Alvarez is vastly superior to Rodriguez offensively, especially versus a righty, but he’s also very shaky defensively. During the regular season Rodriguez started a grand total of one game at first base against a right-hander, so this qualifies as a hunch by Hurdle.

The Cardinals are optimistic about Yadier Molina’s status

St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina celebrates as he arrives home after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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Jenifer Langosch of reports that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina‘s bum thumb responded well after participating in baseball activities Tuesday, including catching, hitting, blocking balls and the like.

This morning Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said that he’s now even more optimistic that Molina will be on the NLDS roster. The Cards’ first game will be Friday against the winner of tonight’s Cubs-Pirates tilt.

Having Molina would obviously be a boon for the Cardinals on the field. For a look at what Molina means to the Cardinals off the field, however, take some time to go read Derrick Goold’s excellent story about what Molina’s teammates think of him. Short version: the world. It’s worth your time, even if you’re not a citizen of Cardinals Nation.