Sign Orlando Cabrera. Or give Towers the funds he needs to sign Cabrera.
Actually, let me start by saying that I have no idea how this works. That is to say, whether or not you have the authority to do what it is I’m asking. Maybe you don’t, but maybe you do. I’m going to operate under the belief that you do.
It’s already the end of February and Cabrera is still available (I fully anticipate Cabrera signing elsewhere within 48 hours of this posting). Much of this might have to do with his ranking as a Type-A free agent. But MLB might have our backs with this one, as it has ok’d a sign-and-trade policy for Type-A’s. And although we have the third pick overall in the draft, meaning that we wouldn’t have to give up our first-round pick, we might want to hang onto our second-round pick, which will likely be in the 30s. As an added bonus, if Cabrera maintains his Type-A status next off-season and the Padres sign him to a one-year deal, he could net us a first round pick in the 2010 draft.
Now, Cabrera is not the hitter that Khalil Greene once was, but neither was Khalil. Cabrera might be the epitome of a field first-hit never shortstop, but he was still a top SS in 2008 worth 3.7 wins. This is due, in large part, to Cabrera being the defender everybody thought Khalil was. Last season, Cabrera had the highest UZR/150 of all qualified shortstops at 16.4. That’s 2.9 runs better than next best Jimmy Rollins and 25.8 runs better than Khalil. Fangraphs rated Cabrera’s 2008 season as being worth $16.6 million, the same as Derek Jeter, and we could probably get him for less than $5 million.
There are, of course, reasons not to sign Cabrera, aside from the money issue. The first reason being Luis Rodriguez.
(Author’s Note: I actually stepped away from this article for a couple of hours to reflect and this is what I came up with.)
I say that Rodriguez is a reason because he is penciled in as the team’s starting shortstop, keeping it from being a literal hole. Unfortunately, that is the only capacity in which he is a reason not to acquire Cabrera (or any other shortstop, for that matter). Rodriguez is Deivi Cruz Jr. And for all you Mel Gibsons out there, the reason we moved into Petco was so the Luis Rodriguezes of the world wouldn’t get 400 at-bats. And while Rodriguez hasn’t yet reached the 400 mark, there is no one else who looks like they could jump in. Save for Grant Green being drafted and coming up mid-July, and we need to get our fingers crossed there.
A second reason to not sign Orlando Cabrera is that shortstop isn’t actually the team’s biggest weak spot, believe it or not. After Peavy and Young, the final three rotation spots are up for grabs with only Cha Seung Baek looking to have locked down a job. After that, we’re looking at some sort of combination of Mark Prior, Kevin Correia, Josh Geer, Wade LeBlanc, and others. With pitchers like Pedro Martinez and Odalis Perez still floating around, maybe any added money would be better off going to them. If not, the team should think about scrapping the idea of starting pitchers entirely and just employ 10 or 11 relievers. But this letter is about Cabrera, so let’s focus.
I’m going to risk my cred as a stat geek right now and say that one final reason to grab Orlando Cabrera is that he’s been there before. Granted, we already have Eckstein and Floyd to teach the kids what it’s like to win, but you can never have too much veteran leadership. Just look what Maddux did for this team last year! But in all seriousness, I’d rather have Cabrera sitting next to Adrian on the bench, whispering sweet nothings into his ear, than Luis Rodriguez.
I’ll leave you, Mr. Moorad, with this: Manny just turned down a $45 million deal from the Dodgers. Cabrera would only cost $5 million. Think about it.