What Would YOU Do? Orlando Cabrera Edition

9 Oct

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net

I really liked Orlando Cabrera when he played all those years with the Expos. Because he played there, he was far from popular, and very underrated. Then he went to the Red Sox in that infamous Doug Mientkiewicz/Justin Jones four team deal, helped the Sox win their first World Series in something like a thousand years, and become quickly very overrated. He spent three years with the Angels, then last year with the White Sox. He signed this spring with the A’s, and then at the July 31 trade deadline, the Twins acquired him for minor league SS Tyler Ladendorf.

He is credited with being a Winner. He has been to the playoffs now five out of the last six years. Of course, with the Red Sox, they also had a couple of decent players like Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, Johnny Damon, David Ortiz… I could go on and on. Those Angels teams had Vlad Guerrero and some very strong pitching. The White Sox, if you believe all you read coming out of Chicago last year, won the AL Central despite Cabrera. They also had Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko and strong years from Mark Buehrle, John Danks and Gavin Floyd.

I always felt he was vastly overrated, at least from the standpoint of being in the playoffs and being a major contributor to it. Since 2004, he has not had a season with an OPS of over .742. He has been a solid contributor, but not a star, by any means. He has typically been a good defensive player.  

This year, because he was (for some reason) a Type A free agent, he did not sign until late. The A’s offered him one year and $4 million, but also added a clause that says if he remains a Type A free agent after this season, he cannot be offered arbitration.

He responded by posting a .683 OPS with the A’s and become a sub-par defensive SS (14 errors in 101 games). He came to the Twins and was immediately inserted in the two-spot in the lineup. He got off to a nice start, then reality set in. But then in September, he played very well. He hit. He made some nice defensive plays. He had 11 errors in just 57 games with the Twins.

However, he also showed a strong leadership quality. How often did he take it upon himself to go talk to a struggling pitcher? Remember when he and Nick Punto came in to talk to one of their pitchers, Cabrera did the talking, and on the next pitch, there was a 4-6-3 Double Play, after which Nick Punto looked to OC and said, “Wow!” He has seemingly been a terrific fit in the clubhouse. Now he is saying that he wants to remain with the Twins. Following Tuesday’s Game 163, he told reporters that he hoped to stay here for awhile.

So, what do you think? Should the Twins make an effort to keep Orlando Cabrera around? They can’t offer him arbitration, because he remains a Type A free agent. But they have exclusive negotiation rights for a little while following the season, and can continue to talk to him. He is not a strong offensive player, but he’s come up big the last few weeks. He is a declining defensive player. He will soon turn 35 and spend the entire 2010 season at that age. He was an improvement at the #2 hitter over what was hitting there before he arrived. How much confidence do you have that Trevor Plouffe could contribute to the Twins in 2010? Most importantly, how much would you be willing to pony up to keep Cabrera as the Twins every day shortstop? How many years?

If you have any questions or comments, please click here.

This is one of many, many decisions that the Twins General Manager Bill Smith will have to make after the Twins playoff run is complete (hopefully with their third World Series championship!). And when the Twins 2009 season does come to an end, the TwinsCentric group will give you a ton of great information to help you understand all of the decisions the Twins GM and present you with the opportunity to decide what you would do. (More details to come)


37 Responses to “What Would YOU Do? Orlando Cabrera Edition”

  1. Peter October 9, 2009 at 10:26 am #

    What about JJ Hardy? Obviously he was demoted by the Brewers for a reason and he is from the National League, but he’s solid defensively. Anyone like him?

  2. Andy Darsow October 9, 2009 at 10:27 am #

    I think the answer to this is simple. Absolutely bring him back. I would say a two year contract in the range of 6-8 million. Maybe even a one year deal with a second year team option or something. Age plays a factor in this. Let’s forget the defensive numbers and all that, his defense is not what it used to be but he is still a serviceable defensive shortstop that is pretty good at the plate. Bottom line is the Twins do not win the division without Orlando Cabrera, he has had some huge hits and our middle infield was a mess before he got here. The Twins need a shortstop and I would have no problem at all with the Twins resigning him, I actually really hope they bring him back. Love his personality and he is a great leader. I could care less what the White Sox say.

  3. Andy Darsow October 9, 2009 at 10:29 am #

    JJ Hardy would be a good fit too. To me it depends on what you have to give up for him and you have to look at other areas through a trade as well. If you could do a Perkins for Hardy deal, which I doubt the Brewers would do I would do it in a heart beat. If I am Bill Smith, I try very hard to obtain a top of the line starter this offseason. That might have to come via trade. Hardy is a scary option to me but if you don’t have to give up top of the line prospects to get him I say go for it.

  4. Cory October 9, 2009 at 10:32 am #

    I like what Phil Mackey said when he was on with PA the other day. You have to separate the emotions of what happens during a playoff push when it’s time to think about re-signing Cabrera.

    Yes, he’s been clutch, but you can’t really count on clutch in the future. Next time he could just as easily fly out instead of hitting a two run homer and we lose the game instead of going into extra innings.

    That being said, he was an improvement over what we had and what we will have next year. In the end, it all comes down to money. What is he willing to accept and how many years does he want? If we can get him for 4-6 million for two years max, then I would do it. 8-10 million? No way. I would rather take that money and go after Figgons or Lackey and go with Punto at short while giving Casilla his last shot at 2nd.

  5. gobbledygookguy October 9, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    imo over the course of a full yr cabrera would not hold up to gardy’s style (defense) and age is a factor.
    we need to temper our thinking of what happened down the stretch. after aug 4 we played teams with a record of 105 games under .500, facing a lot of aaa-aaa+ pitching and some just plain bad teams.
    the problems we had most of the season are still there. if cuddy could play 3b that would help. there are lots of guys that should be upgrades by trade, jj hardy, uggla, atkins, kouzmanoff, all could come fairly cheap. free agents, polanco, kennedy, beltre, derosa, sanchez, lopez, hudson, scutaro are out there. there is plenty of help to be had, only if smith really wants to improve this team or just compete in the central is the question.

  6. mike wants wins October 9, 2009 at 11:01 am #

    If anyone says yes, can you explain if you also wanted them to not sign Casey Blake because he was too old or not, thanks?

    I vote maybe. I would prefer “no”, but they have a ton of holes to fix. They need a 3B, SS, 2B, and 1-2 SP – oh, and they need to re-sign Mauer.

    IF OC comes back for less than $4MM, then sure, take a flier on him. But, if he wants real money, they need to spend that on starting pitching and two infield spots (not just the one he “might” fix). I’d rather they rely on Tolbert or some minor leaguer for virtually free, and sign some starting pitching and Mauer than sign OC and Mauer and get no help at starting pitcher.

    Also, I think there may be trade options for young guys that are proven to be adequate. And, frankly, adequate is about as good as OC has been (and he’s only likely to continue to get worse over time at this point).

    So, I guess I vote “no”, but only if they apply that money to getting some starting pitching and re-signing Mauer.

  7. TT October 9, 2009 at 11:11 am #

    I think Cabrera’s defense would be a problem over the course of the year. But I think you can underestimate the value of veteran leadership. Frankly, I think Gardy does a crappy job of working with young Hispanic players and Cabrera might help some of them. If they can sign him to a two year deal, that would make sense.

    I think Plouffe is probably close to ready. He hit over .300 with decent power the last half of the season. His errors are the biggest concern. Either Plouffe or Cabrera could probably play third base if necessary.

    The Twins have a lot of mediocre depth in the infield. Punto, Tolbert and Harris (not to mention Casilla) are all major league players. But none of them really have the skills to be everyday players. Cabrera provides one settled spot at a position where leadership skills matter.

  8. Cory October 9, 2009 at 11:48 am #

    It all comes down to money. Cabrera is worth it if we can get him for what he’s actually woth, not what he thinks he’s worth since he played great during the stretch run. 4 million would be great. 6 is the very maximum I would give him and that would only be for one year.

    He is what he is at this point in his career. An average to below average fielder and a .270 hitter. He is not what he’s been over the past three weeks.

  9. Shawn in Binghamton October 9, 2009 at 11:50 am #

    I have pondered this myself. I’d try to get JJ Hardy first, maybe Chone Figgins or Orlando Hudson to play 2b and stick Punto back at SS(since we’re stuck with him anyway). I wonder if O-Cab could play 2b? That might help that -9.9/150 UZR. As a leader he seems a great fit. Offensively? well at 8 or 9 he’d be fine for this team as well. I don’t think the O-Cab decision is as easy as bringing him back, i think other dominoes need to fall first.

  10. mike wants wins October 9, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    Can someone explain this great leadership thing to me? Is Casilla suddenly better, or Gomez or Morales or Mijares? NONE of those guys is suddenly better now that OCab is on the team. What evidence is there that this leadership thing exists for latinos?

  11. JC October 9, 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    I would offer Cabrera a 1yr/$5million dollar deal.
    Take it or leave it. I would see what Plouffe had next spring and bring him up sometime during the year and see what he could do.

  12. Gamer October 9, 2009 at 12:21 pm #

    Bring him back. The twins have holes at three infield positions without him, and only two with him. They know him, and he has performed well.

    Do not underestimate that if the team stuggles next year, they can trade him. Not to many years ago, we traded a past his prime infielder (Dave Hollis) for David Ortiz.

  13. Jim October 9, 2009 at 12:30 pm #

    OC? Bring him back for next year with club option for 2011. Reasons? Easy:

    *We don’t have anyone else. Forget about Punto as a SS over the course of an entire year. It just exposes his deficiencies.

    *We’re moving from a dome to natural grass “real” stadium. That should keep him healthier and put less strain on his back and legs.

  14. Jeff October 9, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    I think Chone Figgins should be the #1 target. He would be a very good lead-off or #2 hitter behind Span. His strikeouts are high, but his career OBP is .363. He’s versatility is unmatched, so depending on the pitching matchups he could play 2B, SS or 3B. He will be 32 next year so expectations should be tempered, but I think he would be a nice fit. Uggla is an interesting possibility too, but I’m not sure of his defense.

  15. Andy Darsow October 9, 2009 at 12:45 pm #

    Chone Figgins would be great but the bottom line is they will not sign him. He is a Type A Free Agent and will be looking for big money. I wouldn’t personally put that much money into him either. He’s a good player but I would pass for what they would have to give up.

    How can we overvalue veteran leadership? Look at the difference in this team since we brought in some vets. I don’t buy the latin thing although it might help morale. Cabrera plays the game with enthusiasm and you can see how much the guys respect him. That is “leadership” to me. He leads by example.

  16. TT October 9, 2009 at 1:15 pm #

    Latino’s who have thrived under Gardy:
    Johan Santana

    Latino’s who have struggled:
    Ortiz, Rivas, Guzman, Casilla, Gomez,

    Guys who did a little of both:
    Silva, Rincon, Mijares, Liriano

    You will notice a pattern, only pitchers have had any success.

  17. kagey October 9, 2009 at 1:34 pm #

    They scouted and, depending on who you believe, talked to Milwaukee about Hardy and Florida about Uggla. While in my dreams that would be the MI next year, I think it is more likely that they will get one of those and install a competition between Punto and Punto, The Sequel for the open spot.

    On another note, the D-Backs had scouts at the Dome during the Tigers/Twins game. Why? Perhaps there have been talks as well for Haren and/or Reynolds?

    Personally, I think this team needs an Alpha pitcher at the head of the rotation. Haren, Lester, Cain would be at the top of my list but I’m sure you can think of others. What would it take to swing a trade for one of those Young plus? Cuddyer plus? Morneau straight up? Sign Pavano, trade for an Alpha and you’ve got something: Alpha, Slowey, Baker, Blackburn, Pavano.

    If the Twins don’t move any starting player off of this roster do you look and test Cuddy at third? After seeing him reinvigorated at the plate after the move to the infield why not try it again? He was trying to establish himself as major leaguer and getting jacked around when he was tried there before. I didn’t think he did too bad after he settled down. Give it a try again…he has definite infield skills and you can play Young, Span and Gomez every day and spell them with Kubel. If Cuddy fails after the first 40 games you can always put Punto, Part Deux (Tolbersie) in there until Valencia is ready.

    Surprisingly I think the bullpen is good even if Neshek and Bonser struggle to get back quickly.

    Lots of options for Billy to think about. And, IMO, Cabrera shouldn’t be one of them. Too shaky at short defensively nowadays.

    I think there actually will be some pretty splashy moves and more of them than one might expect. Fans and the media are ready to pounce if they perceive a continuation of hoarding dollars after getting the gift of the stadium.

  18. the Dragon October 9, 2009 at 1:38 pm #

    I agree with Mike Wants Wins on Starting Pitching.

    Comment during Tuesday’s Tigers game. The Twins were 37 games over .500 when they got a quality start.

    Interesting, an overachieving/non-injured starting staff got the Twins to the playoff game in 2008, an underachieving/injured starting staff almost caused a miss in 2009.

    My wish list…Haren, Webb (if healthy), maybe Bedard…ALL will cost alot in prospects/players.

    I’d like to see the Twin’s to find a spot on coaching staff for Manny Acta. That should take care of Latino problems real or imagined.

    Cabrera…not sure.


  19. roger October 9, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    Seth, my feeling is yes, bring him back. Matter of fact I am happy with bringing this entire playoff 25 man roster back and resigning Crede to the exact same deal he signed last year. I think this group with a little better health from Slowey and a few others can go a long way. That means the Twins do have a couple pitchers to many and probably would move 1-2 for a prospect, hopefully, a nearly major league ready prospect.

  20. Dan October 9, 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    Lets just say he is a league average shortstop at best. Like what was mentioned earlier if the deal is reasonable and still allows the Twins to fill another need like a 2b, 3b, SP…and preferably someone else to hit #2 then by all means yes. I cannot really quatify his “leadership” to this team, but I do know having played on many teams in many different sports that leadership can make a diffrence. Just knowing you are going to go to battle with someone who will scratch and claw and fight for you, not just the team as a whole but for every last person on it goes along way to unifying a team and making everyone accountable to eachother. If that is what he truly brings, despite his numbers than that is priceless. However, how can I know that? And every manager in baseball certainly knows how valuable this is, because it is, that leaves me with this question. How come he never stays anywhere for very long? I do not know the answer to that either, so I would just have to look at his numbers, and they are not worth very much, but he is better than our current options.

  21. the Dragon October 9, 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    One other thing about position players. Last off-season, on other sites I argued for less moves since the 2008 team was the youngest team in baseball, AND enough of the youngsters had shown potential. With 2009 I think Span & Blackburn are keepers. Probably Slowey as well, the probably only because he was not nearly as sharp in 2009 as 2008 (maybe injury related).

    I think Young fits that bill as well, although I must admit I have been a Young apologist all along, maybe sitting more than he probably has in his whole life, Will he become what his talent seems to indicate? I’d also keep Gomez unless an excellent deal.

    I think it’s time to end the Liriano infatuation. Can he be very good? I think so, probably not here.


  22. rghrbek October 9, 2009 at 2:30 pm #

    I think people need to objectively look at the information after the season.

    Right now we have too many feel good thoughts because of our unlikely comeback.

    My initial reaction is absolutely not!!!!!! for 43 games, even after his hot start he had a .265 OB%. That is horrible. Even for Carlos Gomez.

    Yes he got hot and helped us against subpar teams, but 11 errors in 51 games with no range and no arm (ie every cutoff throw to home).

    My vote at this time is not to sign him to a 2 year deal, in which he will get 4 to 6 million.

    We have to be creative in finding someone else.

  23. Bill in Sarasota October 9, 2009 at 2:38 pm #

    I would offer the same deal $4M for one year to OC. If OC signs elsewhere I would offer Crede a bargain incentive deal if his back is sound again.

    Top priorities are resigning Mauer (at any cost) and Pavano (if reasonable).

    Baker, Blackburn, Slowery, Pavano, and Duensing would be the initial starters. Liriano, Swarzek, and Manship in AAA and Perkins in the bullpen.

  24. Jon October 9, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    Delmon hit 300/329/459 in games not immediately after the death of his mother. In those games he hit 118/147/118 wth 55% strikeouts. He is a talented,if impatient hitter who still has potential, I hope the twins do not sell low.

  25. Andy Darsow October 9, 2009 at 2:52 pm #

    Why would anyone want Crede back? I would rather have Nick Punto at third next year and I don’t want that!! It was a good move giving him a try but Crede’s career is over with. I am a firm believer that a big reason we didn’t get going until late had a lot to do with inconsistency at third base. If I am Bill Smith, I don’t even worry about third this winter. Sign OC or get another shortstop and worry about the middle infield. They also need to resolve the outfield situation and I would not trade Delmon, Span, or Cuddy. I still believe that Cuddy could play third base as well. They won’t sign Joe Crede and they shouldn’t. They should say thanks for your time and let him move on.

  26. Eric October 9, 2009 at 3:33 pm #

    I look at OC a lot like I do Mike Redmond or Mark Madson. He seems to be a good leader, and his energy and enthusiasm are infectious. He is clearly declining defensively, and his already poor range is bound to get worse. What really bothered me was his tendency to screw up even balls hit right at him. He swings at the first pitch too much, and seems to think that he can hit for power. That being said, it is hard not to like him on our team. Great attitude, lots of spunk, and I really like the way he battles in important at bats. In fact, that is what I used to hate about him when he faced the Twins (with the Sox or A’s).

    At some point, the Twins need to find a starting shortstop that is more than a stop gap solution. I’m not sure that the long term solution is in our system, either (sorry Trevor). To me, his value is more as a bench, role player, and occasional starter on a good team. It may be hard to convince a “Type A” free agent of that, and as previously stated, there isn’t (currently) a better option.

  27. Andy Darsow October 9, 2009 at 3:39 pm #

    Eric – did you just compare O-Cab to Mark Madson and Mike Redmond? Come on now!! Enough said there. I think everyone here would agree that you can’t put him in that league. Ridiculous!

  28. Eric October 9, 2009 at 3:48 pm #

    Andy – You read correctly…but I didn’t really mean it as an insult. Red-dog is nearly a career .300 hitter, and has proved extremely valuable to the Twins over the last few years. If not for the fact that the Twins are absolutely loaded with catching talent, we’d be talking about whether to extend HIM right now. That is mainly because he’s viewed (rightfully so) as a good veteran leader, and an overall great guy. I get the same impression about OC, except that he plays a position that we have absolutely no good options at, and therefore looks exceptional (at times) in comparison.
    *(I’ll admit that the Madson reference was a bit over the top, but I couldn’t resist…I actually think we should re-sign the “Mad-Dog”, and put him in the “Air Crunch” suit at T-Wolves games next year. It would be great for morale, and I’m pretty sure he’d enjoy himself)*

  29. Andy Darsow October 9, 2009 at 3:52 pm #

    Eric – You cannot compare Mike Redmond who is a career backup to Orlando Cabrera who has been one of the better shortstops in the league for the past 5 years. His numbers have definitely declined over the last couple of years but they are not even in the same league. That is an insult to group him with those guys. There is nothing wrong with a one or two year stop gap option. I’m not sure you know anything about OC if you compare him to Redmond.

  30. rover27 October 9, 2009 at 3:58 pm #

    Question: Have you ever seen Ocab field a grounder deep in the hole, plant, and throw a runner out at first?

    That’s a play every good ML shortstop sould make. Not field ing a grounder backhanded, jumping and twirling in the air, and making a one hop throw to first that is most often weak and off target. And if it’s on target, gets only the slowest runners.

  31. Eric October 9, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

    Andy –
    Last post here, and then off to watch the Twins.
    I’m not trying to compare Mike Redmond’s career to OC’s career. The question is about Cabrera’s value to the Twins NOW. My point is that OC’s value is higher mainly because of the position he plays, not his talent. I feel that both of them provide value in terms of leadership and enthusiasm, and there is a lot of value in that.

    Sometimes it is amazing how bent out of shape people can get when someone tries to take the emotion out of a decision and judge things based on the facts. It seems as if either OC is your favorite player, or you have a very negative feeling about Red-Dog.

    Career Stats:
    Redmond: .289/.345/.361
    Cabrera: .275/.322/.398

  32. kagey October 9, 2009 at 9:51 pm #

    Add “Closer” to the list of Twins’ needed upgrades:

    #1 Starter

    Lot’s of work for the GM over the offseason.

    Oh, might as well add “Catcher” until Mauer is signed

    Lot’s of work.

  33. Michael October 10, 2009 at 7:55 am #

    Hmm. You are missing the biggest issue:
    1. Resign Joe.
    2. Resign Joe.
    3. Resign Joe.

    After this, I think Smith needs to thin the abundance of back of the rotation quality starters as well as settle the OF and rid ourselves of a couple of the backup quality middle infielders, and finally find a 3B.

  34. TT October 10, 2009 at 10:42 am #

    You would think after this year people would have gotten over the idea the Twins have a surplus of pitching. Mr Gabino was a minor league relief pitcher at the start of the year. He was starting for the Twins only after they exhausted all the other possibilities. And that was AFTER they traded a young pitching prospect to rent Pavano.

    The Twins challenge for next year is to come up with five healthy and effective starters. They can’t have too many options in that quest.

    Their immediate challenge is to get back to New York. Last night showed that they CAN beat the Yankees, now they need to do it.

  35. rover27 October 10, 2009 at 2:21 pm #

    To add to #32s list of needs: Who’s going to be the 3rd outfielder besides Span and Cuddy. To me neither Young or Gomez are major league caliber.

  36. Mark October 11, 2009 at 11:59 pm #

    I would sign him to a contract that is less than three years and not more than $4.5 million per year. If he has higher expectations then he needs to get them from another team.

  37. Joel Thingvall October 13, 2009 at 10:44 am #

    Bring back Crede? Depends on the back. He produced what was expected, but also took a roster spot becaue he wasn’t DLed, due to those danged incentives. Accept a salary, Joe, and don’t hamstring a team because of your wants (“I;’m an $8 million guy, really.”)

    It’s always nice to have veteran presence on a team. Red-Dog is probably gone. Cabrera can add, and possibly help folks like Gomez and Casilla stay comfortable. That’s a plus. Is he better than Punto and Brendan Harris is the question. Can Plouffe make the grade, probably not — reserve in 2010 and a shot in 2011.

    Yet, did Cabrera contribute to a much weaker team — the A’s — as much as he did to the Twins? If the amrket was tight for Orlando, coming off a playoff loss in Chicago…will it be any better for him in 2010. Maybe the Twins will egt that modest $4 one-year deal. Then, done.

    Pitching, pitching, pitching. Actually, more names than last year: Baker, Blackburn, Slowey, Duensing, Perkins, Boof, Swarzak, Liriano…whew! Anyone good out of spring, or Manship and Gabino bullpen backups. I’m sure there’s a name or two who could crack the rotation, if need be, come mid-season or September. Add a free agent or two and the Twins have a logjam or trade-bait.

    Sign Mauer.

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