Does Melky Cabrera's Noble Action Pave the Way for Return to the Giants in 2013?
San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera asked to be removed from eligibility for the 2012 NL batting title on Wednesday, according to CSNBayArea.com. But the announcement shouldn't persuade Giants ownership into re-signing the embattled outfielder this offseason.
Cabrera, who received a 50-game, season-ending suspension due to a failed drug test on August 15, is set to enter free agency at the end of the season. His recent declaration is clearly a PR stunt for damage-control purposes.
If Cabrera thinks stepping aside to provide teammate Buster Posey an opportunity at his first batting title will clear his name in the San Francisco clubhouse, he's badly mistaken.
The Giants are not going to re-sign Melky Cabrera.
Consider this: In May, before Cabrera's suspension, GM Brian Sabean expressed doubt about the ability to bring the Milk Man back, telling CSN's Andrew Baggarly, "stars would have to align to extend Melky Cabrera."
A positive test result was not exactly the star Sabean hoped for. Furthermore, Henry Schulman of SFGate.com wrote one month ago:
I’m getting a strong sense that the Giants’ higher-ups are so angry with Cabrera for taking a performance enhancing drug and sticking a knife into their playoff hopes, that the chances they would let him appear in any postseason games this year, if he’s eligible, or re-sign him for 2013 are close to nil.
It's doubtful such strong anger has subsided in a month, even with the recent news.
But let's turn the attention to the phrase "sticking a knife into their playoff hopes." As of this writing, the Giants hold a 10-game lead for the NL West crown over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Dodgers acquired Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Brandon League and Hanley Ramirez (and $250 million in contracts) in pursuit of a playoff spot.
Meanwhile, all San Francisco did was lose Cabrera and add Marco Scutaro. It's clear the Giants don't need Melky Cabrera.
Sure, 159 hits in 459 plate appearances is fantastic. But Posey's 166 hits in 495 at-bats should be equally considered, especially since Posey focuses on two crucial facets of the game (individual hitting and catching/calling games defensively). Angel Pagan also has 166 hits.
But what about Cabrera's power? He only contributed 11 home runs. Posey has more than double that, Pablo Sandoval matches with 11, and Pagan has eight.
The point is, the Giants overcame the loss. They've got a good thing going right now, and they will likely focus on their current roster in the offseason. If San Francisco still feels like the outfield is a priority, there are other options.
Josh Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, B.J. Upton, Shane Victorino and Nick Swisher headline the 2013 outfield free agents. Bench players such as Cody Ross and Jonny Gomes are having themselves the type of season that sparks discussions of everyday roles.
And what about the fans?
In speaking with a variety of Giants fans, the consensus has been to share Sabean's anger and co-sign the decision not to bring Melky back. It lays out as simply as this: Melky cheated. He cheated the system, and in turn, he cheated the fans. Luckily, the Giants are winning (in front of those same fans, who fill every single seat at AT&T Park each game).
Bringing the 28-year-old Cabrera back would create a potential situation of boos and heckling of a home player by his own fans. The Giants don't want that media nightmare.
Cabrera's decision is somewhat commendable—he's taking steps to get himself out of the doghouse. He admitted to it in the first place, autonomously, then he took himself out of the NL batting-title equation.
Here's the thing: MLB doesn't need his permission. They likely would have skipped him anyway. Additionally, Posey and Andrew McCutchen have a few weeks left of baseball to surpass Cabrera anyway.
Even if they don't, hitting nearly equally in a larger sample size should be considered more valued and serviceable. So is there a chance Melky Cabrera will return to the Giants in 2013? There shouldn't be.
The fans are angry. The GM is angry. He cheated. The team won without him and there are options this winter.
Sometimes, an apology isn't enough to heal stab wounds.
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