According to a conference call with Brian Sabean and Bruce Bochy, the trade doesn’t provide much more than vague insights into next year. Cabrera may start in center field, but how his presence alters Andres Torres‘ role remains to be seen. There’s also no definite word yet on how Sanchez’s absence will affect the rotation, although it stands to reason that the Giants will pursue a fifth starter, especially after earlier remarks about letting Eric Surkamp simmer in the minors for another season.
Perhaps the biggest perk in this trade is its short time frame. Melky becomes a free agent after the 2012 season. If he slumps, the Giants aren’t obligated to keep him on, and more significantly, his free agency allows center fielder Gary Brown a shot at the role in 2013.
Beat reporter Henry Schulman also noted the similarities between Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval, citing weight issues for both players in 2010. “Cabrera got fat and out of shape and had a terrible season,” said Schulman, “then rededicated himself to working out last offseason.” Sound familiar? With any luck (okay, with a lot of luck), the conditioning program Cabrera swears by will produce another solid performance in 2012.
The only sad spot in this story: Bochy was quoted as saying that Cabrera “crosses home plate and that’s a need here.” It’s no secret that the Giants are offense-deficient, but touting Cabrera’s .305 average and amazing plate-crossing skills is about as sad as, well, signing him.