Why stick Cabrera at 3rd?

Maybe he's not the slickest third-sacker. I understand he wants to play there. Good for him to offer to "take one for the team." Perhaps Professor Leyland doesn't want to upset his star by telling him to hold his horses. Our boys just don't have a better DH than either Cabrera or Fielder.

I say let them test Cabrera at third in spring training and maybe in the first few series of the year. If it's obvious he can't do it, then the boss could say that we need him at DH. (I doubt anyone can be that good.) Save face, platoon Cabrera and Fielder at first and DH, and Inge at third. The possibilities boggle the mind, but there's no reason to feel Miggy needs to be stuck at third.

Miguel Cabrera takes grounders in '08. Five errors in 14 games ended the experiment.

JULIAN H. GONZALEZ/Detroit Free Press

Miguel Cabrera said he was moving back to third base to make room on the Tigers' infield for free-agent signee Prince Fielder at first base. In order to play third effectively, Cabrera must lose weight, former major league infielder Harold Reynolds said Wednesday.

"He's got a lot of work to do if you ask me, starting with his weight," said Reynolds, an analyst with MLB Network. "The size he's at right now at first base, he's going to have to lose a lot of weight to be a little more nimble.

"I'm not as optimistic as others might be (that he can play third). I still think he might end up in leftfield. He doesn't have the luxury of standing right by the base at first and catching balls thrown to him. He's going to have to get back to being the young athlete that he was. At third, he's going to have to charge in on bunts, range to his left on balls and move around and be a lot more nimble."

But Reynolds, who won three Gold Gloves at second base, added:

"Put this down for sure: He's a special athlete, and this deal with Prince doesn't get done if you don't think Cabrera can move. I think he can move. I'm just saying that if he's going to move, these are the things he has to do.

"I'm not saying he's one of these guys in a softball league playing first base. He's a pretty good, nimble athlete at first. But if he is going to play on the other parts of the field, he's going to have to be in better physical condition."
Will more punch overshadow less D?

Steve Phillips, the former general manager of the New York Mets, said Wednesday that he loved Cabrera and Fielder hitting back-to-back in the Tigers' order. But like Reynolds, Phillips expressed concern whether Cabrera could play third base well enough to justify a move there.

"Typically, if you sign someone to a $214-million contract, it answers questions and solves big problems," Phillips said of Fielder's deal. "It does not tend to create other questions and problems. This tends to do that.

"The big wild card is, do you believe Miguel Cabrera can play third base? I personally have some real doubts about it. He's got a .951 career fielding percentage at third base. He's made 48 errors there in 387 games."

Say Cabrera had a .951 fielding percentage playing third base regularly this past season. In that case, he would have ranked 14th among 20 players who played at least 100 games at third base.

Phillips, who co-hosts a morning show on Sirius XM, said the most challenging play for Cabrera would be the bunt: charging it, bending over, fielding it bare-handed and throwing off-balance to first.

"Teams are going to challenge him with bunts every game he's at third," Phillips said.

In 2008, Cabrera, listed at 6-feet-4 and 240 pounds, played 14 games at third for the Tigers. He committed five errors, posted a .900 fielding percentage and was moved to first base.

Fielder, like Cabrera, isn't an elite first baseman. Neither ranked anywhere near the top 10 defensive first basemen in the majors last season according to The Fielding Bible.

"What complicates it for me is that it's one thing to say you are sacrificing some defense for offense when you put Cabrera at third base," Phillips said. "You're already doing that at first base with Fielder. I don't know what second base is going to be for the Tigers. Jhonny Peralta in my mind does not have great range at short. He may have played a little better last year. I don't love him at shortstop."

As of Wednesday night, the Tigers hadn't announced Fielder's signing, which was pending a physical. They do not comment on transactions until all the T's are crossed and I's dotted. But baseball continued to buzz about Fielder's nine-year contract worth around $214 million. Phillips, the product of De La Salle High, said of his hometown team's new 1-2 punch: "Those two guys back-to-back -- wow."

Reynolds said: "They will be scary and dangerous and fun to watch for years to come."

Cabrera, 28, now figures to hit directly in front of Fielder, 27. Phillips pointed out that Ryan Braun hit in front of cleanup man Fielder for Milwaukee last year and won the National League's Most Valuable Player Award. The Brewers won the National League Central and, Phillips noted, weren't a great defensive team.

And, you ask, how many intentional walks did Braun receive last season?


Which equaled his combined total for the previous two seasons.

That's right -- in the past three seasons with Fielder hitting directly behind him, Braun has drawn four intentional walks. Imagine if Cabrera received that few. He had 22 intentional walks last season, when usually he had Victor Martinez behind him. The year before, Cabrera drew 32 intentional walks.

One of the most famous baseball trivia questions is the one about how many intentional walks Roger Maris received the season he hit 61 homers to break Babe Ruth's record. The answer is zero. Mickey Mantle hit directly behind him.

Looking ahead to the Tigers with Fielder, listed at 5-11, 275, at first base and Cabrera at third, Phillips said, "The offense is probably improved more than the defense is negatively impacted. But I will not be completely shocked if it goes in the other direction."

If the Tigers decide Cabrera can't play third base, they could put him at DH this season. But Martinez, who was supposed to be the full-time DH until felled by his torn knee ligament, is due to return for 2013. When the 2013 season begins, Martinez will be 34 and will have two years left on his contract.

"To find a trade for Martinez would not be hard," Phillips said. "People still love him."

If Cabrera can play third adequately, it leaves room for Martinez. But it raises another question.

Say the Tigers lead by one run going to the top of the ninth and Cabrera is the third hitter due up if there's a bottom of the ninth.

Would manager Jim Leyland take out Cabrera and put in Brandon Inge or Don Kelly as his defensive replacement?

"That's going to be the challenge," Reynolds said, laughing. "I'm glad Leyland's got to make that decision, not me."

More Details: Not-so-hot corner?

Miguel Cabrera has played third base in 387 games. A closer look:

2003 FLA 34 1 .986
2005 FLA 29 2 .971
2006 FLA 157 17 .957
2007 FLA 153 23 .941
2008 DET 14 5 .900
Totals -- 387 48 .951

More Details: Where's MIGGY?

Miguel Cabrera has played four positions in the field during his nine-year career. A closer look:

First base 596 42 .992
Third base 387 48 .951
Leftfield 247 10 .976
Rightfield 100 7 .962
Totals 1,330 107 .984

Not everybody thinks the Tigers got a great deal...

But I do.

The Dallas Morning News sports columnist Kevin Sherrington (below) says the Tigers spent way too much to solve a one-year problem. That's just sour grapes talking. True, he's a wonderful solution to replace Martinez, but 2013 is a long time away, and the future presents many, many possibilities. There's just no telling that Cabrera, Fielder and Martinez all stay healthy all the time. Do these guys have no-trade clauses in their contracts? Maybe the Tigers could off-load some salary and pick up a pitcher in 2013. There's too much to risk, and besides, we're talking about spending a rich man's money!

Sherrington: Why passing on Prince Fielder was the best move for Rangers

Kevin Sherrington


Published: 26 January 2012 09:22 PM

Prince Fielder apparently was starting to have some doubts about his agent, but a nine-year, $214 million deal with Detroit reaffirms that, when you stand trembling before the Pearly Gates some glad morning, you want Scott Boras doing the talking for you.

Jon Daniels resisted Boras’ attempts to plop Fielder in the middle of the Rangers’ lineup into the next decade. For this, any Rangers fan should be grateful.

Not that Fielder isn’t productive or a wonderful teammate. He will be a formidable presence for the Tigers . Of course, so was Victor Martinez, who’s out for the season. Fielder makes up for it and then some, but at a price you could lease Lubbock.

For this year, Fielder makes perfect sense for the Tigers, victims of the Rangers last fall. They have no other viable options to fill the void left by Martinez. Fielder could put them over the top.

Where it really gets dicey, though, is that he won’t get any cheaper over the course of his contract. He won’t get any sleeker, either.

And then there’s this: Unlike football and basketball, you can’t tie up your budget in baseball on one position player, because no matter how good he may be, you can’t put the game in his hands any time you like. He’s only going to get up four times.

The rest of the time, Fielder is just killing grass.

Even Albert Pujols has his limitations, and not just his age, whatever it may actually be. Certainly he was awe-inspiring in Game 3. But check the numbers. The Cardinals would have won the game without him. The rest of the World Series , Ron Washington practically rendered him a nonfactor.

The World Series MVP was one David Freese. The year before, it was Edgar Renteria , who had hardly washed the tickertape out of his hair before the Giants released him.

Before 2010, you have to go back almost a decade, when Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson led Arizona over the Yankees, to find MVPs who were even remotely Hall of Fame-worthy.

Big boppers with bigger contracts in no way guarantee success. Two of the most prolific ever to play for the Rangers are now Yankees teammates. Between them, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira have helped deliver one World Series appearance, a title in 2009. A-Rod had a great postseason that year. It was an anomaly. He’s hitting .277 in the postseason overall. Teixeira’s average in seven playoff series: .207.

Still, the two postseason underachievers are guaranteed a combined $47 million a year through 2016. And even then, A-Rod will still have one more $24 million season left, at 42.

Even superstars get old. For all we know, Pujols already is. They grow out of shape. Fielder goes three bills at 27. They get hurt. Josh Hamilton has played more than 133 games once in five seasons.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t gamble occasionally on a contract. But on the dollars, not the length. Eight, nine, 10 years is far too long for any organization, especially one like the Rangers, with replacements waiting down on the farm. Besides, what if the team starts losing? What if it has too many holes to patch immediately? Tom Hicks made the mistake of paying A-Rod disproportionately when the rest of the club couldn’t back him up.

The Rangers have been ready for two years. Their window is now. But it wasn’t a lack of hitting that kept them from beating St. Louis.

They needed more pitching. Even after signing Yu Darvish, they need more. If Roy Oswalt will sign a one-year deal, Daniels should jump.

When healthy last year, Oswalt was still very good. The Rangers could use a pitcher with his track record, not only for the seasoning he brings, but as a mentor for the wide-eyed kids on the staff. They listen to Mike Maddux; they’d idolize Oswalt.

And if Oswalt’s back goes out again? Not a problem. They’d have seven other candidates for the rotation.

Even if Oswalt didn’t get hurt, someone will go on the DL. Someone won’t live up to expectations.

A club can live with disappointments as long as the price is right and comparable replacements are ready. You can’t afford the latter without the former.

Even the Yankees once understood how it works. Back in the late ’90s, when they won four World Series in five years, the lineup, led by Bernie Williams and Derek Jeter, was good. But it wasn’t intimidating, especially by standards of the Steroids Era. It was the Yankees’ pitching — bracketed by Andy Pettitte , Roger Clemens and David Cone on the front end and John Wetteland and Mariano Rivera to the rear — that dominated.

The Yankees eventually forgot what made them great and started listening to Scott Boras. The man can talk. If he’d been Eve’s agent, the serpent wouldn’t have stood a chance.

Do You Believe In Miracles? Tigers Sign Prince FIelder!!!

Prince Fielder is going to look awfully good in the Old English D. Mike Illitch again put his money where his mouth is and he is not done. Look for them to go after Cespedes from Cuba now.

They are going to be a lot of fun to watch!!!!!!

This is the biggest day of the offseason and will be hard to top. What do the Yankees and Red Sox have to say now?

Tram and Lou

Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker take the field before today's game between fantasy campers and former Tigers.

Here's Johnny!

Former Tiger Johnny Grubb throws batting practice this afternoon at the Detroit Tigers Fantasy Camp.

Check out the new Beta Version

and let me know if you find it easier to log on, make comment, etc.

go to http://atthecornerofmichiganandtrumbull.wordpress.com/

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Also, tell me what would make our little chat room more fun in 2012. (Other than a Tiger Series victory, which is a little out of my control.)

Quote of the Day

"I owe my success to expansion pitching, a short rightfield fence and my hollow bat."

-Norm Cash

Some things just aren't fair

Trammel and Morris both deserve to be in the HOF. As my pal Peek points out, Tram's career stats are very similar to Larkin's. Morris dominated the game in his day.

No justice.