Melky Cabrera

Giants probably not a playoff team without Melky Cabrera

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With Melky Cabrera done for at least the rest of the regular season after testing positive for enhanced testosterone levels, the Giants may well fall short of the playoffs this year. Though perhaps that’s for the best, given that the cheater is a big reason they’re tied for the NL West lead at the moment.

Cabrera has hit .346/.390/.516 with 11 homers, 60 RBI and 13 steals this season. That .906 OPS was good for eighth place in the National League. It was also 97 points higher than his 2011 mark with the Royals and 177 points higher than his career mark of .729 entering the season.

Baseball-reference WAR places Cabrera as the NL’s fourth-best position player this season. Fangraphs WAR rates him the 11th best.

Needless to say, the team’s fallbacks don’t compare. Nate Schierholtz will be missed, since he was included in the Hunter Pence trade. Gregor Blanco, whose role was reduced when Pence arrived, figures to see a lot more action now. He’s hitting just .232/.329/.343 for the season, and he’s at .137/.297/.196 in 51 at-bats since the All-Star break. Justin Christian figures to return to the majors to replace Cabrera on the roster.

Perhaps the Giants will go get Alfonso Soriano from a Cubs team perfectly willing to cover a big portion of his salary. He’d replace Melky’s power, though not his on-base ability. Aubrey Huff, on the DL with a strained knee, could factor into the mix in left next month, but it’s nothing the Giants can count on.

The Giants simply can’t afford any drop-off and still expect to reach the playoffs. They’re tied with the Dodgers for the NL West lead, but the Dodgers are playing better baseball at the moment. Their 64-53 record is tied for fifth-best in the NL. As things stand now, both the Braves and Pirates have better records in the wild card spots, with the Cardinals just a half-game behind.

Cabrera will be eligible to play beginning with the Giants’ fifth game of the postseason if the team does advance, but that would turn into a farce if it happens. It’d be another black mark for baseball if Cabrera could get a PED suspension and still be a postseason hero in the same year.

The White Sox will retire Mark Buehrle’s number this June

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 27:  Starting pitcher Mark Buehrle #56 of the Chicago White Sox waves to the crowd after being tasken out of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field on September 27, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Mark Buehrle last pitched in 2015, for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was still pretty effective and toyed with the idea of pitching last season, but he never signed anywhere and is, for all intents and purposes, retired.

Now at least his number will be retired officially. It will be done by the club for which he had the most success and with which he is, obviously, most associated:

Buehrle pitched for the White Sox for 12 years. He was the model of consistency and durability in Chicago, logging over 200 innings a season in every single season but his rookie year, when he was primarily a reliever. He was a solid defender, a multi-time All-Star, tossed a perfect game in 2009 and helped the Chisox to their first World Series title in 88 years in 2005.

He was also one of baseball’s fastest workers, so I’m going to assume that, in his honor, the number retirement ceremony will last, like, a minute 20, after which everyone can get on with their dang day.

Terry Francona isn’t sure how long his health will allow him to manage

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 19:  Terry Francona #17 of the Cleveland Indians reacts during batting practice before a game with the Boston Red Sox on August 19, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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Terry Francona just won the American League pennant, the Manager of the Year Award and his Cleveland Indians will likely be among the favorites to win it all in 2017. Between that and his 17-year track record as one of the best managers in the business, he will have a job, somewhere, for as long as he wants one.

He said yesterday, however, that his body will likely limit how long he manages:

“It gets harder and harder physically. It really does. It takes me longer to recharge every year . . . I’ve had a lot of surgeries, a lot of health problems. It just takes a toll on you. I love [the game of baseball]. I really do, but I can’t see myself doing something else. But there is going to come a day when I feel like I’m shortchanging the team or the organization. That’s not fair.

“Even now, during batting practice, I’ll come in and get off my feet a little bit. I think everybody understands. But when there comes a day when it gets in the way, I’m going to have to pull back, and it’s not because I don’t love managing. You have to have a certain amount of energy to do this job right.”

Francona experienced some chest pains and had an elevated heart rate that caused him to leave a game early last season. In 2005 a similar episode caused him to miss three games while managing the Red Sox. He also has a history of embolisms and blood clots, some of which have hospitalized him.

With multiple World Series rings there isn’t much more in baseball that Francona can accomplish, but here’s hoping he sticks around and accomplishes a lot more before he trades in his baseball spikes for golf spikes and calls it a career.