Melky Cabrera: Should the San Francisco Giants Bring Him Back for the Playoffs?
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At Cabrera's request, the Major League Baseball Player's Association (MLBPA) and Major League Baseball agreed to a one-time rule change that will prevent Cabrera from winning the batting title this season.
The move is pretty clearly a publicity stunt by Cabrera and his representatives to begin the process of rehabilitating his damaged image.
The batting average title is not an award like a Gold Glove or Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. Instead, it's simply a mathematical formula. The player with the best batting average (hits divided by at-bats) wins the batting title. Amending the rule this season to prevent Cabrera from winning the batting title is a silly stunt that sets a potentially bad precedent to retroactively punish other suspected or known PED users.
That said, the interesting part of Baggarly's article was this: "The Giants are not keen on bringing back Cabrera for the postseason, citing the distraction factor as well as his questionable readiness following a 50-game ban."
Should the Giants bring Cabrera back for the postseason once his suspension is up, assuming the Giants are still playing?
From an ethical perspective, I personally am not that offended by PED use. If I could take some type of enhancement to increase my potential earnings by even a few hundred thousand dollars, much less the $60 million or so Melky might have made if he hadn't gotten caught, I would do it in a heart beat.
Where I am less forgiving of Melky is with his decision to appeal the suspension. Baggarly reported earlier this week that Cabrera was notified of the suspension before the All-Star game.
Thus, if he had just accepted the consequences of his actions instead of appealing and going along with the horrible advice he received from a consultant to hatch an ill-conceived cover up that included a fake website, he would have been back on the field by early September.
Instead, Cabrera's selfish decision to try to beat the rap meant that he would miss the rest of the regular season, plus the first five games of the postseason. By the time he is eligible to return, the Giants would be in the National League Championship Series, and Melky would have no opportunity to round back into shape.
On paper, it would be nice to go from Gregor Blanco (.244/.332/.349) to Cabrera (.346/.390/.516) if the Giants make it to the NLCS.
However, given that we don't really know how much of Cabrera's batting line was fueled by PED use and given his lengthy layoff, the Giants wouldn't likely be going from an average player to an MVP in reality.
I feel for Cabrera because I do think he was the recipient of some really bad advice. I also find PED use to be relatively inoffensive.
It's a shame that he got caught, but the Giants wouldn't be where they are without the 4.5 WAR (wins above replacement) Cabrera provided, even if that performance was fueled by testosterone. Cabrera, MLB and the MLBPA may have agreed to change the rules to prevent him from winning the batting title, but they aren't going to retroactively remove the value provided by Cabrera from the Giants ledger this season.
In the end, had Cabrera just taken his medicine back in July, he would have had all of September to round into shape for the postseason. The cover-up is always worse than the crime, and in this case, the cover-up was not only ill-conceived, it also prevented Cabrera from being available when the Giants most needed him.
I don't begrudge Melky for using, and I can also forgive him for taking bad advice. Heck, I'd even bring him back next year if I were the Giants general manager.
The bottom line for me is to put the best team on the field, regardless of their past transgressions with PED use. The bottom line in this case, though, is that it's just too late to bring Melky back for the postseason. Given Melky's lengthy layoff, Blanco is the better option in the postseason.
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