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Melky Cabrera's Suspension Doesn't Derail San Francisco Giants

DENVER, CO - AUGUST 03:  Melky Cabrera #53 of the San Francisco Giants pauses at second base after doubling against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on August 3, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The Giants defeated the Rockies 16-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Grant HughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistAugust 15, 2012

Well, that explains a few things. San Francisco Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball on Wednesday for violating its Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, as reported on MLB's Twitter feed.

Some might have been wondering how Cabrera, who had done little but disappoint throughout his early years, suddenly turned himself into a top-flight bat last season in Kansas City. When Cabrera built on last season with a career year (so far) in San Francisco, it looked as if he had found some sort of magical potion to turn his career around. Well, Wednesday's suspension shows that was pretty much the case.

Cabrera, who hit third in the order for San Francisco for most of this season, anchored a lineup that had been floundering until Buster Posey turned on his MVP afterburners in July.

Make no mistake, Cabrera, who has admitted his mistake already, will definitely be missed in the Giants' recently studly lineup. He's hitting .346 on the season, and his ability to square up almost any pitch he sees has been critical during a terrific season. But that will be missing from the Giants' lineup for the rest of the way, so the Giants will have to deal with rearranging some things during a tight NL West race.

The Giants, though, aren't sunk. As I mentioned, Posey has been a world-beater lately. He's as locked in as they come right now. Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence are hitting. Pablo Sandoval is back. In any other year, Cabrera's absence would be a critical loss for the Giants. But now, for the first time in a long while, San Francisco has enough other bats in the order to compensate for Cabrera.

Obviously, losing an every-day third-place hitter on a season-long tear hurts. But Posey or Sandoval could easily move into the third spot, and either Pence and Belt can handle a slight bump up in the order.

 

Defensively, Cabrera had a nice arm, but he wasn't a terrific right fielder. Either Gregor Blanco or possibly the recently signed Xavier Nady—who's currently in the Giants' minor league system—could fill in. And don't forget: Belt has played some outfield in his career, so the Giants could bring Brett Pill back up and slide Belt out to left. Those are some decent options.

Look, Cabrera's suspension is a terrible thing. It's a major blow to the Giants that could mean he won't be back in San Francisco after this season. But the Giants can't, and won't, let their disappointment derail their hopes. The lineup has other bats that can step up to fill the void.

Ultimately, I'm a believer that Cabrera's suspension doesn't kill the Giants.

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