Assuming the San Francisco Giants make the playoffs (and advance to the National League Championship series), they’re going to face quite the dilemma.
Yesterday evening, CSN’s Andrew Baggarly reported that suspended outfielder Melky Cabrera reached out to the Giants, asking them if he should prepare for the postseason by heading to the Giants’ Arizona complex for training:
"Suspended and disgraced outfielder Melky Cabrera recently reached out to Giants officials to find out when and if he should report to the club’s minor league complex to prepare for a potential spot on the postseason roster.The club is not commenting on Cabrera’s situation, but all indications are that upper management has zero interest in the All-Star Game MVP playing another game in orange and black."
August 5, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) runs to third base after hitting a triple during the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. The Giants won 8-3. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
Suspended for 50 games, Cabrera wouldn’t be eligible to return until the NLCS (Giants had 45 games remaining when Melky was suspended, they’d need to play five postseason games before he’d be able to return) so the orange and black would need to probably play short handed for a game or two (assuming they activated him) unless they went the five full games in the Division Series.
Ethically, the Giants have every reason to tell Cabrera thanks, but no thanks. This is the same man who left the Giants hanging high and dry, offering no sort of a private apology to his teammates or coaches. The same man who vanished in shame, ignoring the few teammates that did reach out to him like Gregor Blanco. The same man who battled with his fellow teammates nightly, fully knowing what he was doing – just hoping he didn’t get caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
The Giants’ locker room was clearly hurt by Cabrera’s actions and they had every right to be. The feel good story of the Melk Man was a fraud. He lied to them. He lied to everybody. To let him return not only creates a monster of a media distraction, but you have to wonder about team morale with the shunned Cabrera back in tow. With an 18-9 record since Cabrera’s suspension, one might say the Giants don’t need him – but given what we’ve seen of his replacements in left field – is that realistic?
For one day, a lone single evening – we saw what the Giants brass envisioned as their reinforced lineup. It included a newly acquired Hunter Pence, a healthy Pablo Sandoval, a streaking Buster Posey and of course the hot hitting Cabrera. The Giants ended up thumping the Washington Nationals 6-1, before learning of Cabrera’s suspension the following morning. The two headed replacement monster of Gregor Blanco and Xavier Nady has been less than stellar for the Giants in left field, their glaring weakness heading into the postseason. Melky Cabrera, PED’s or not, is a significant upgrade over either player and certainly makes the Giants a better team on paper than either Blanco or Nady. From a talent standpoint, it’s a no brainer pertaining to a Cabrera return, but as the Giants have shown throughout this process – it’s not just about about talent.
Aug 18, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; A fan holds a sign in reference to the 50 game suspension of San Francisco Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera (not pictured) during a game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE
Guys in the locker room have likened this season to the Giants’ 2010 World Series run. Multiple players have commented about just how “special” it is. There’s just that extra, something. They don’t know what it is, but it’s there. It’s a collection of guys, none bigger than the other, playing together as a cohesive unit – as a team. Bringing Cabrera back into that is a risk, despite the Giants’ need for his game in left field. All it takes is one bad apple in a bunch to ruin the rest and at least right now, the Giants don’t seem to deem the advantages of Cabrera returning to left field over Nady/Blanco as worth the risk.
No matter what the Giants do, unless they win it all, they’ll face the should have/shouldn’t have questions relating to Cabrera, which is a shame given what a wonderful season the team has had. Cabrera would undoubtedly make the Giants a better team in the postseason off talent alone, but it appears the Giants don’t feel the upgrade in talent is worth the negatives Cabrera could bring to the team.
We’ll know shortly if it was the correct move.