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MLB Trades: Why Orlando Cabrera Hurts, Not Helps, the San Francisco Giants

Asher ChanceySenior Analyst IJuly 31, 2011

MLB Trades: Why Orlando Cabrera Hurts, Not Helps, the San Francisco Giants

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    With Ozzie Smith, Barry Larkin and Cal Ripken, Jr. apparently unavailable, the San Francisco Giants went after the next best thing Sunday, acquiring 36-year-old shortstop Orlando Cabrera from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for minor league prospect Thomas Neal.

    Cabrera is the most recent in what is becoming a hilarious succession of aging shortstops who have held down the position in recent years for the Giants, including Omar Vizquel, Edgar Renteria, Juan Uribe and Miguel Tejada.

    But is Orlando Cabrera the missing piece the Giants are searching for to help them get back to the postseason? Here are five reasons the answer may be no.

Orlando Cabrera Is Not Currently a Starter on His Own Team

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    This trade represents one of the few deadline deals you will ever see between two contending teams, and the reason for this is simple: The Cleveland Indians, in trying to improve their team for the stretch run, do not seem to believe Orlando Cabrera is going to be part of that equation.

    In 2011, another Cabrera—Asdrubal, pictured here—has held down the fort at shortstop for Cleveland and has emerged as a star. Orlando, meanwhile, has slid over to second base where he has played for most of the season, but it has been a rough transition. At present, he is posting a brain-dead .244/.277/.321.

    Orlando has been out of the starting lineup since July 20. Cleveland obviously felt they needed to make a change to get to the postseason.

Brian Sabean Is Addicted to Aging Shortstops

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    To find a season where the San Francisco Giants put a shortstop on the field under the age of 30, one must go all the way back to 2001 when Rich Aurilia was holding down the position for the Giants.

    This past year, with Edgar Renteria having had a wonderful postseason but rather clearly demonstrating to the Giants he is no longer an everyday option, the Giants jettisoned Renteria (and also perfectly decent starter Juan Uribe) in favor of...Miguel Tejada. This was a hilarious move and was one of the few the Giants could have made that would have actually downgraded the team.

    Predictably, Tejada has been a flop, posting a .242/.274/.334 in 82 games and playing inferior defense while he splits time between third base and shortstop.

    Obviously, the Giants had to make a move.

Orlando Cabrera Hurts Teams in October

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    Much of the early commentary surrounding this trade has centered around the fact that Orlando Cabrera has gone to the postseason in each of the last four years with four different teams.

    That's fine.

    Is it also fine that in his last four postseason series Cabrera has hit .250, .125, .154 and .125, and that his teams failed to advance beyond the first round in any of those series?

    Let's not go around making this guy out to be Derek Jeter, shall we?

The Giants Are Orlando Cabrera's Seventh Team in Five Seasons

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    Orlando Cabrera played for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim from 2005-2007. He did some good things, had some successes and left on his own terms.

    Since then, he has played for the Chicago White Sox in 2008, the Oakland A's and Minnesota Twins in 2009, the Cincinnati Reds in 2010 and the Cleveland Indians in 2011. The Giants will be his seventh team since 2007.

    We do not know Orlando Cabrera, and we make no judgments. But, at the end of the day, don't you have to be suspicious when six different teams have had a guy and made the decision to not keep him on their roster the following year?

    This is a potential red flag.

Orlando Cabrera's Best, or Even Good, Days Are Behind Him

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    At the end of the day, it is as simple as this: Orlando Cabrera was once a very good shortstop, but his best days are disappearing into his rearview mirror.

    His batting average has been steadily falling for three years now, going from .284 to .263 to .244. His on-base percentage has not been over .320 in three years and has also steadily fallen from .316 to .303 to .277.

    In 2011, he has been a disaster with runners in scoring position (.236, .506 OPS), a disaster late in games (.223, .587 OPS in innings 7-9) and a disaster with men on base (.262, .629 OPS).

    Defensively, Cabrera has been one of the worst defensive second basemen in baseball, ranking ahead of only Dan Uggla in things like UZR rating and defensive runs saved.

    In short, the San Francisco Giants just attempted to upgrade their team by adding to their roster a bad player.

    Well done, San Fran. See you in October.

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