Miguel Cabrera swigs from a bottle of scotch in front of a cop; gets arrested for DUI

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After the sordid end to his 2009 season in which he drank himself into a jail cell the night before a critical season-ending series, Miguel Cabrera went on the wagon.  He dedicated himself to sobriety during the winter of 2009-10, showed up to camp sharp and trim last year and went on to post an MVP-worthy season.

Great story.  But life tends not to follow so neat a narrative:

Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera has been arrested on drunken driving charges in Florida. The St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office says the 27-year-old player’s car engine was smoking alongside a road late Wednesday when a deputy spotted the vehicle. According to the arrest report, Cabrera smelled of alcohol, had slurred speech and took a swig from a bottle of scotch in front of a deputy.

Oh, and in case that wasn’t enough, the details of the arrest show just how ugly an incident this really was.  Cabrera cussed out the arresting officers, ran out into the street and played the “do you know who I am?” card.

Drinking Johnnie Walker on the side of the road in plain view of a police officer and then running amok is not the stuff of a small social drinking slipup.  Cabrera’s problems are obviously back and obviously serious.  If I’m the Tigers, I get him out of spring training now and into a serious rehab facility.

Nationals’ sell-off a vindication for Dusty Baker

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The Nationals threw in the towel on Tuesday, trading second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and 1B/OF Matt Adams to the Cardinals. The club also placed outfielder and soon-to-be free agent Bryce Harper on revocable waivers but took him back. The Nats’ sell-off is a vindication for former manager Dusty Baker, let go after the Nationals failed to advance past the NLDS for a second straight year.

Baker had roughly the same team current manager Dave Martinez did. It was arguably worse, considering he never wrote Juan Soto‘s name on the lineup card. The 2018 squad, sans Baker, has been marked by mutiny and underachievement. While failing to reach the NLCS in Baker’s two years was disappointing, he took them to Game 5 in the NLDS both years as well as 95 and 97 regular season wins. Right now, Martinez’s squad has a winning percentage more than 100 points lower than Baker’s last year. They’re on pace to go 80-82, which would be their first sub-.500 season since 2011.

Baker has always had an undeserved bad rap. He was, correctly, blamed for the Cubs’ demise, due somewhat to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior falling apart, ostensibly from overuse. However, after his stint in Chicago, Baker took the lowly Reds from the bottom of the NL Central to the top in two years between 2008-10. Then he took the Nationals, which had won a meager 83 games in 2015 and had made the playoffs just twice since moving from Montreal, to two consecutive NLDS Game 5’s.

Not much changed from 2017 to ’18. Martinez inherited Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Michael Taylor, Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, Daniel Murphy, Matt Wieters, Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley, and Koda Glover, among others. But for one reason or another — injuries, admittedly, make up one reason — almost all of these players are having worse years under Martinez than under Baker. Describing the 2018 team to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Baker said, “They’re together, but they’re separate.”

Is it strictly Baker that would make the difference? No, of course not. But the Nationals organization seems unwilling or unable to address issues that may extend into the front office. The Nats seem happy to go through a new manager every couple of years and hope that fixes all that ails them. Since Frank Robinson’s five years at the helm from 2002-06, Manny Acta managed two and a half years, Jim Riggleman one and a half, Davey Johnson two, Matt Williams two, Baker two. Maybe the problem was never the manager. Perhaps the problem is the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo.