Tag: Orlando Cabrera

San Francisco Giants Improved Roster Faltering Down the Stretch

Three weeks ago, the San Francisco Giants sat multiple games ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks for first place in the NL West.

About two of every three games was a one-run contest, and they won a like ratio of those games. Taking about half of those remaining games was good enough to make a second-seed seem almost certain.

Moreover, the Giants traded away little—one good and one questionable Double-A pitching prospect—to fill a major lineup hole. With strong-hitting second baseman Freddy Sanchez possibly done for the year, Jeff Keppinger appeared to be a solid replacement.

But the offense continued to struggle and the team was about to embark on a three-week period with six consecutive series against playoff contenders. Seven of the 18 games were against their National League rival Philadelphia Phillies, and 12 of the 18 were on the road.

So they did not stand pat. They did the right thing in adding the single biggest trade target in the league, Carlos Beltran (or as John Miller calls him, Bell-TRON). Added just in time for the rubber match of the second of those six series and the first against the Phillies, the Giants were looking good.

They had beaten the other two likely division winners on the senior circuit without him. Now they had a strong lineup in the second through sixth spots, even if Aubrey Huff is only on that list based on the belief he can recapture a little of the success of last season.

With their pitching, that seemed more than enough. Yet San Francisco added Orlando Cabrera to fill another hole at shortstop.

For most contenders, the 37-year-old shortstop would be a backup. In Cleveland, he played second base and was hitting just .244 with four home runs, 38 RBI and 35 runs. His OPS was under .600.

But for the Giants, he was an upgrade of more than a hit a week over the combination of Brandon Crawford and Mike Fontenot. His defense is still solid enough to prevent the Giants from giving up more runs in order to produce some of their own.

Since joining the 2010 World Champions, he is hitting just .222 and has a sub-.500 OPS thanks to no walks and just one double. He has a run and three RBI in seven games, making the early returns on his acquisition less than the Giants expected.

But it pales in comparison to the disappointments of the better two hitters. Beltran has just a .244 average with a .366 slugging percentage, three runs, two RBI and just one walk. After a slow start, Keppinger has hit a respectable .262 but has just a .593 OPS, one RBI and five runs.

That is why only three teams in the league have a worse batting average and only one has scored fewer runs than San Francisco. After the first game since trading for Beltran, the Giants have lost eight of nine and will likely be out of first place by the end of Saturday.

And with the team being outscored in those eight losses 45-11, the pitching is failing along with the improved lineup. There have only been three games in the nine that Giants hurlers have allowed fewer than four runs, and the opposition is averaging over five per game in the last nine.

The Giants won last year with timely hitting and great pitching. They have the same pitching and at least on paper have a better lineup, even without Sanchez and Buster Posey. And the team did not find a high gear until late August in 2010.

But unless San Francisco can take at least one game at home against the Phillies and win the last two series of this run, this season’s end may look more like the San Diego Padres of 2010 than their own.

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Cleveland Indians: 5 Reasons the 2011 Defense Is Significantly Improved

During the 2010 season, the Cleveland Indians defense was one of the worst in the major leagues.

A combination of injuries and poor play were the main reasons for the terrible infield defense. Add a poor defense to the fact that the majority of the Tribe rotation is made up of ground ball pitchers and you have a recipe for disaster.

Once the Indians’ front office traded third baseman Jhonny Peralta, the position became a gaping hole that none of the Indian’s options were able to fill successfully.

Improving the infield defense became a priority for the Tribe brass during this past offseason. So far, their moves have paid off and the Indians now have one of the most solid defenses during the early days of the 2011 season. Here are 5 reasons for that dramatic improvement.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Jose Reyes, James Loney and Other Latest Updates

MLB Spring Training has only just started, but the MLB buzz is continuous. There is already buzz about mid-season trades to come. There’s also already buzz about the free agents after this season.

Albert Pujols and C.C. Sabathia will probably continue to dominate the MLB buzz. There are some other buzz stories past Pujols and Sabathia, though.

Here are some of the latest buzz in the MLB world.

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MLB Spring Training: Cleveland Indians Make Same Mistake With Orlando Cabrera

The official web site of the Cleveland Indians has Orlando Cabrera listed as the starting second baseman for the club. This confirms what has been suspected since the signing was announced last week.

For the most part, reaction to the signing has been positive. All I’m hearing about is how great a player Cabrera is and how he’s a big addition to the 2011 team. Did you know he’s been to the playoffs six of the last seven years? I’ve heard about it ad infinitum.

I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I really don’t see the purpose of this signing. All I see is the Indians once again refusing to just embrace the youth movement they’re trying to sell to the public. How are we supposed to believe in it when even the people in charge don’t?

Orlando Cabrera has never been a great hitter. In his 14 season career, the 36-year-old has only had an OPS+ above 100 (or above average) once, way back in 2003. Last year’s OPS+ of 78 hardly inspires confidence that Cabrera will be an average hitter in 2011.

The official Indians press release touts the fact that Cabrera is a “two-time Rawlings Gold winner.” The Gold Gloves sound great, but Cabrera’s defense has declined significantly in the past two years. His dWAR (Wins Above Replacement strictly from defense) was -2.9 in 2009 and 2010.

He may have won Gold Gloves in 2001 and 2007, but the 2011 version of Orlando Cabrera isn’t the fielder he used to be. Moving to second base isn’t going to fix everything.

The real problem with the Cabrera signing is his age. Like the Russell Branyan signing, which took playing time away from Matt LaPorta last year, the Indians keep telling us how excited they are about their young prospects while they sign veterans to play over them.

Maybe the Cabrera signing would make more sense if he were coming off of a great 2010 campaign. The fact is, he isn’t.

In the second half last year, Cabrera had a .348 OBP and a .763 OPS. Too bad in the first half he only had a .283 OBP and a .612 OPS. On the year, he was only worth 0.4 WAR, not very impressive at all.

In fact, in the past two seasons, Cabrera’s WAR has been a nice, round 0.0. Even Jayson Nix, who I don’t think has any real future with the Indians, has a 1.0 WAR in the past two seasons.

Orlando Cabrera has literally only been playing at the level of a AAA call-up in the past two years. With that being the case, what’s so wrong with just playing Jason Kipnis? He’d probably play at the same level. At the very least, the Indians should give Jayson Nix another chance to prove himself instead of bringing in Cabrera.

I know that the contract is only $1 million for one year; I know that Orlando Cabrera is great in the clubhouse and I know that he’s got great playoff pedigree, but none of that really matters. If the Indians were one piece from competing, maybe this would make sense. If this were five years ago, this signing would make sense.

As it is, the team that is constantly complaining about lack of money is just wasting it here.

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The Free Agent Team: A Team Assembled by Who’s Left on the Free Agent Market

There are still plenty of players left on the free agent market that could improve a major league club. What if it was decided there would be a new expansion team? The team would have to assemble itself by whoever is left, and this is what I believe this team would look like. A team filled with former all-stars, and overlooked players.

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MLB Free Agency: Orlando Cabrera Lands with Cleveland Indians

Following the Cleveland Indians‘ offseason has been like watching paint dry. New Tribe GM Chris Antonetti has followed his predecessor, Mark Shapiro, in playing the waiting game when going after players through free agency. Finally it would seem as though Tribe fans have something to get excited about.

Although not yet confirmed by the Tribe GM, it seems as though the Indians have signed veteran infielder Orlando Cabrera. Brother of former Indian Jolbert Cabrera, Orlando has had stints with the Boston Red Sox, Oakland A’s, Los Angeles Angels, Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox since departing the now defunct Montreal Expos, where he signed as an amateur in 1993.

No big deal right? I beg to differ.

Cabrera has been a solid player for almost his entire career. Last year with the Reds, Cabrera batted .263 with 33 doubles, 4 homers and 42 RBI. In 2009, with the A’s and Minnesota Twins, Cabrera batted .284 with 36 doubles, 9 homers and 77 RBI. He is also a gold-glove caliber infielder.

Still not impressed?

Since being traded from the Expos to the Red Sox in 2004, Cabrera has never missed a postseason. He has made the playoffs with every team he finished a season with during that seven-year span. The guy knows how to play at a high level and he knows how to win. What more could you ask for out of a veteran brought in to help out a young but talented team?

Now the question is where do you play him? Cabrera is a gold-glove shortstop, but conventional wisdom would say that Asrubal Cabrera is staying put. Although Orlando has only played a handful of games at second base, he has the range to be a great complement to Asdrubal.

The acquistion of Cabrera will give the Indians an opportunity to fine-tune prospect Jason Kipnis in AAA. Kipnis appears to be ready offensively but seems to need a little work defensively since only being moved to second base last year. That will leave Jason Donald and Jayson Nix fighting for the job at third.

Finally, something to look forward to this spring for Tribe fans. The tandem of Cabrera and Cabrera up the middle could be fun to watch. Nicknames anyone?

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Another Cincinnati Reds Crisis: Paul Janish Pipping Orlando Cabrera?

What does a team do with so many talented starting pitchers? Uber-rookie Mike Leake has already been relegated to bullpen duty.

The Reds just plain have too many talented starting pitchers. And now this?

Paul Janish trying to Wall Pipp the shortstop position?

When Orlando Cabrera (The O.C.) landed on the DL on August 3rd with a strained oblique, Janish took his spot in the lineup as the everyday shortstop.

The O.C. has been a great clubhouse addition. He’s always loose and joking around at opportune moments—teams need veteran guys like The O.C.

It’s not The O.C.’s fault, but in baseball years, he is approaching elderly status. Worse, his production at the dish is finally starting to show at an ugly tune of a .302 on-base-percentage.

The O.C.’s defensive skills (even though he has lost a step) are still top-notch.  Especially turning a 4-6-3, not sure there is a guy who gets rid of the ball quicker in the league.

If there is a true baseball fan out there who does not appreciate the way Brandon Phillips picks it, shoots it over to The O.C., who then guns it to Joey Votto, well, it’s a safe bet that they are a Cardinals‘ fan.

Along comes Paul Janish.

All winter long Janish thought the shortstop job was his to lose. Even entering Spring Training he thought the same.

Out of nowhere, The O.C. was signed at the beginning of Spring Training. Rendering Janish as annoying background noise. The O.C. is a solidified veteran. A former two-time Gold Glover with a better stick than Janish—or so popular theory had it.


On August 2nd, The O.C. strained his oblique swinging into a double play.

On August 3rd, Janish began the Wally Pipping process.

One may look at Janish’s 43 at-bats as a small sample size—which it is—but those 43 ABs constitute just over 40 percent of his season total.

Entering the August 3rd contest versus the Pirates, Janish had a grand total of 63 ABs. Or around 12 a month.

In his 43 ABs from August 3rd to August 17th, Janish has been hitting at a .302 clip. His on-base-percentage is .362. Slugging? .488, that’s an .850 OPS. 

In the 12 games Janish has played since The O.C. went down, he nailed two home runs in 43 at-bats.

The O.C. has gone deep three times in the whole of 2010, or 416 ABs.

Another standout stat is their comparative strikeout rates: Janish one per every 15.77 ABs, The O.C. one per every 9.6 ABs.

You’re probably sitting there saying to yourself, “Well, Illya, screw mainstream media, YOU are the new voice of the Reds!”

But pertaining to this article, you’re probably questioning Janish’s defensive skills at short against the former Gold Glover.

Janish is as slick as they come at short. A very strong case could be made that his D is better than The O.C.’s—not knocking The O.C. at all. Janish is simply that good.

He has better range and a slightly stronger arm with the same pinpoint accuracy.

Still on the D.L., The O.C. is starting to swing the bat again. Likely meaning his return is imminent.

Reds‘ skipper Dusty Baker has long been known as a guy that will not allow a player to beat out another while he is on the DL.

By playing so well in the heat of a pennant race, Janish is making Dusty’s normal stance quite difficult.

What if Miller Huggins had never replaced Pipp with some guy named Lou Gehrig back in 1925?

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Jay Bruce’s Struggles May Lead to Platoon in Right Field for Reds

For much of the season, the Reds have been atop the National League in most every offensive category. Seemingly each everyday player has come through in the clutch.

The Reds lead the majors in walk-off wins and rank second in wins in their last at-bat.

Everyone seems to be having career years at the plate. Everyone, except for Jay Bruce.

Bruce, whose hustle and defensive abilities will never be a question mark, remains an offensive mystery.

In 108 games in 2008, Bruce hit .254 with 21 homers and 52 runs batted in. Last season, in 101 games, Bruce hit just .223, but managed to smack 22 long balls and drive in 58.

The numbers get increasingly odd when one takes a closer look at Bruce’s splits. The league average for on-base percentage hovers around .330.

Bruce is barely above that at .332. He’s also struck out an eye-opening 86 times in 92 games this season.

The two biggest indicators of Bruce’s trials and tribulations at the plate are his difficulties with runners in scoring position and problems against left-handed pitching.

The left-handed swinging 2005 first round pick of the Reds is hitting a measly .205 with runners in scoring position and a lackluster .182 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

More than a quarter of the Texas native’s at-bats have come with runners in scoring position.

He’s also batting .245 against southpaws this season. While that statistic isn’t terrible, one can actually see Jay’s frustrations just by watching him swing the bat.

As Reds analyst and former big league relief pitcher Jeff Brantley pointed out, Bruce appears to be intent on swinging at the first pitch if it’s anywhere near the strike zone.

What usually happens is Bruce gets behind in the count and then presses even more.

Bruce’s swing has always been on the long side, so when he’s presses at the dish, he appears to guess at what pitch is being thrown more often than not.

The Reds right fielder is 0 for his last 13. They are running out of excuses for their youngster. Bruce also seems to be bothered by the shifts opponents are playing on him in the field.

Brantley hypothesized that Dusty Baker may start a platoon in right field, with rookie Chris Heisey seeing time against left-handers.

Heisey has pop, evidenced by his five home runs in just 70 at-bats (also half of Bruce’s home run total on the season).

He’s also a small notch below Bruce on the field, who is nothing short of a Gold Glove-caliber right fielder.

If a platoon isn’t in the cards, I’d try and move Bruce up in the order. It may sound crazy, but Orlando Cabrera isn’t exactly setting the world on fire in the two spot.

Batting second would give Bruce more opportunities to hit-and-run with Brandon Phillips and take the pressure off of him as a run-producer, instead making him an initiator in the Reds lineup.

Nonetheless, the Reds are slowly running out of time with Bruce. It appears Dusty Baker may have to make yet another adjustment in his lineup.

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Cincinnati Reds Turn Series Around To Beat San Francisco Giants, 6-3

The Cincinnati Reds were able to turn around their four-game series against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday night with a 6-3 win.

So, after losing twice to the Giants earlier in the week, what changed in this game that allowed the Reds to win?

For starters, the Reds did a much better job manufacturing runs. That’s the obvious difference shown by the final score. The six runs they scored were the most they’ve tallied in a game thus far in the series.

The Reds also did a better job of batting, and giving themselves an opportunity to score the runs they did.

This includes Drew Stubbs’ home run in the bottom of the sixth inning, and Jonny Gomes’ hit that scored two runs for the Reds in the seventh.

In addition to batting well, the Reds also received an amazing pitching performance out of starter Aaron Harang.

Harang tossed seven strong innings and fanned three. His solid pitching helped the Reds prevent the Giants from scoring more than their three runs.

On top of batting and pitching well, the Reds also did a decent job on defense. This stellar teamwork contributed to the Reds’ success.

One of the stronger infielders for the Reds was shortstop Orlando Cabrera. He played error-free ball, and had several song throws to the bases.

The Reds have had a rough start to the four-game series against the Giants.

If they play today’s final game against the Giants they way they played Wednesday night, they have a good shot at coming away with the series split.

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Epic Collapse Dampens Cincinnati Reds Winning Vibes


The tires are flat just a few days after the Reds bandwagon was getting full.

After holding a commanding 9-1 lead, the Reds end up losing 10-9 in stomach punching fashion to the Atlanta Braves.

The Reds jumped out to a eight run lead in the second inning and everything seemed juuuust fine. Rookie Mike Leake had his seventh quality start in eight appearances, going six innings giving up five hits and three runs (one earned).

Mike Lincoln breezed through two innings before manager Dusty Baker inexplicably left him in for the ninth. At 9-3, it didn’t seem like a big deal.

After getting into massive trouble Nick Masset was brought in for damage control in a 9-5 game. He walked a batter then was the victim of a Miguel Cairo error and was relieved by the 40-year old veteran Arthur Rhodes. He promptly struck out the Braves best hitter Jason Heyward (the guy that beat the Reds on Wednesday).

Then Dusty brought in closer Francisco Cordero to finish of Atlanta and those pesky Braves once and for all. Yet another questionable call if you ask me. Well, guess what happened? Pinch hitter Brooks Conrad hits a grand slam, and the Braves complete the epic comeback.

This one hurts bad. Really bad. Giving up a lead like that might stick with the club for awhile. It’s a loss that could be looked at in September as one of the reason the Reds just didn’t cut the mustard in ’10. Losing two games in a row via the walk-off has given the Reds a taste of their own medicine.

The Cardinals have regained first place, and now the Reds are playing catch-up again. This isn’t a “the sky is falling” article, but holy crap this is a tough one to swallow. The best thing the Reds can do now is completely erase it from their collective memories, and beat the living daylights out of the Cleveland Indians.

There are now legit concerns regarding the $12M closer, Francisco Cordero. He has blown three saves already, he only had four of last year! He is 35, and clearly not quite the pitcher he once was. He might be getting over worked by Dusty, but either way something aint right. Simply put, he is having trouble throwing strikes. Oh, and the set-up man Masset blew the game before.

As a strength for most of the year, the bullpen is now becoming a startling problem for the Reds.

It’s not the end of the world, but this next week will be very telling about the resolve of this young Reds team. This is the time when veterans such as Scott Rolen and Orlando Cabrera need to lead by example, and make sure the team doesn’t unravel. Sure it’s still May but the Red Legs need to put a hurting on their Ohio rivals to regain the swagger they had built up over the past week. 

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