Miguel Cabrera

Are the Tigers doing right by Miguel Cabrera?

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Yesterday Miguel Cabrera met the media and the Tigers explained that he’ll begin workouts with the Tigers today.  Some folks have a problem with that. One of them is Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan, who thinks that the Tigers’ failure to force Cabrera into an alcohol treatment program is a major mistake:

The Pussy Cats are, essentially, doubling down on an alcoholic whose sobriety lasted barely a year. There is supportive, and there is coddling, and for somebody who said he has worked with dozens of players with substance-abuse issues, general manager Dave Dombrowski should know better than to skew toward the latter.

Like Passan, I’m inclined to believe that a guy who has had two major alcohol-fueled incidents in a little over a year has a major problem. Those little checklists that are designed to help you figure out if you have an alcohol problem aren’t perfect, but the fact is that Cabrera could check off a great many of the warning signs:

  • He drank scotch when he was pulled over, suggesting that he drinks to deal with problems;
  • By virtue of the incident before the White Sox series in 2009 and his late start to spring training this year, alcohol has interfered with his job;
  • The altercation with his wife showed that it has impacted his personal relationships;
  • The 2009 thing showed he had a damn high tolerance.

Still, I can’t say with any sort of certainty if the Tigers are coddling him like Passan charges.

We’re inclined to believe that someone with the means and the ability to take time off work like Cabrera does should be in some sort of in-patient facility — and my first impulse when Cabrera was arrested was to think that he should go to one — but not every alcoholic is the same. A great many people have successfully dealt with a severe alcohol problem by going to AA or getting counselling or exercising or finding religion or any number of other means.  Utilizing one of these other means — or many of them — doesn’t fit our expectation that celebrities must go into rehab, but it can be done and, in some cases, it may be a more effective way for any one person to deal with it like that rather than to take them out of their life for a 28 days.

I guess my point isn’t that Passan is wrong — he may very well be right — but I think that there are too many variables in play here for those of us outside the situation to be so certain about it.  A team that essentially says “get back on the field” like the Tigers are saying is owed some serious skepticism. But that team also has a huge long-term contract with the guy so even if we were to assume the most selfish of motives on the team’s part, those motives also counsel that they make damn sure that Cabrera doesn’t fall off the wagon again.

The Tigers may be screwing this up. They may also be doing exactly what Cabrera needs.  I’m not sure how anyone besides the Tigers, their doctors or Cabrera can know it. And hell, given how tough a nut to crack alcoholism is, I’m not even sure how they could know it either.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.