Miguel Cabrera

Keith Law: “Miguel Cabrera is the third-most valuable player on his own team”


Keith Law is still catching hell from Cardinals fans over his 2009 Cy Young Award ballot which they (erroneously) believe screwed Adam Wainwright and/or Chris Carpenter out of the Cy Young Award. That’s not his problem. He’s wrongfully accused of hating every team’s fans at some time or another, but Keith votes his mind and his conscience on such things. And given that he and the rest of the old Baseball Prospectus folks made their bones by going against the often-faulty conventional wisdom, it’s not at all surprising that his take on such matters pisses people off.

Well, it’s gonna happen again. This time with Detroit fans who really, really love their Miguel Cabrera. Here’s Keith:

“One of the most popular questions I’ve gotten recently is whether Miguel Cabrera will win the AL MVP award. I don’t presume to know what the voters will do, but I know that as it stands right now, he shouldn’t appear in the top three spots on any ballot.

“Cabrera’s offensive performance has been solid, but he’s a major negative on defense at third base, so a player like Cano, a good defender at a position (second base) where offensive levels are lower, is more valuable overall even though Cabrera has slightly higher raw rate stats.

“Cabrera is the third-most valuable player on his own team, behind Verlander and Jackson, the latter of whom has completely transformed himself at the plate this year and is a plus defender in center.”

I see his argument. I don’t have much intelligent to say about it one way or the other apart from the fact that, if you don’t look too deeply into defense, you’re never going to agree with Keith here given Cabrera’s offensive production, but I do see what he’s saying. He’s not trying to hate here because I know Keith a little bit and he doesn’t hate on anyone like people claim he does.

But, yeah, I do not think that these comments — which are now being repeated in the Detroit Free Press — are going to endear him to Tigers fans.

The most interesting question — the answer to which I don’t think Keith will ever tell us — is whether, motivated by it or not, Keith actually kinda likes it when the mob goes after him. I’ll admit that I kinda like it. It can be a lot of fun. I could be wrong, but I sort of picture Keith cackling at this a bit.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.