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The non-tender deadline came and went, and there were a few surprises. Whether that’s Darwin Barney keeping his roster spot, whether that’s Alexi Ogando (a potential Dodgers target) getting non-tendered. Perhaps the biggest uproar, is the newest entry to the SS free agent market, in Everth Cabrera.
You probably remember Cabrera as being a short nuisance who always was on base with a bloop single against the Dodgers because that’s what every great Padre does. But if you look at his 2013, you’ll see that he was a solidly above average player who made an all star team while stealing 37 bases and being worth 3.1 fWAR. The season before that he stole 47 bases with a .324 OBP even in a somewhat down year for him. So it’s not as if he is a bad baseball player, given that he can play SS somewhat adequately and given that the Dodgers need a usable SS to play for them next year, plugging Everth into the SS spot while watching their middle infield steal 100+ bases next season seems like such a great idea.
Well, being quite frank, it isn’t, and it shouldn’t happen.
Last season he fell off of a cliff, only managing a .572 OPS with pretty meh defense, he struck out 22% of the time, only walked 5.7% of the time. This may have been due to a hamstring injury he suffered during the 2013 season, but it’s telling that he never really regained the form he had. Just look at this article written about him leaving the Padres
"On the field, Cabrera’s struggles started before last season. From colleague Tom Krasovic’s annual Pink Pony Scouts Chat in the spring: “He struggled defensively. It kind of goes back to that last month of his rookie season, when he started getting careless or tired. He looked a little too thick. He is not as quick as he was. Let’s just say that, he is not at the top of his game defensively.” A scouting report of Cabrera might include something along these lines: He’s always been more deft with his feet than with his hands. In 2013, he went on the DL with a hamstring strain. He hasn’t been the same since. He suffered the same injury twice last season, likely exacerbating his throwing miscues. He committed 13 errors in 90 games. Several of those seemed to be routine throws that sailed."
So the eye test didn’t check out, he seemed a bit out of shape, and for a player who relies on speed so much, that’s worrisome. And that hamstring strain that he suffered is simply a killer for middle infielders with speed.
There is good news in this, in that he’s only 28, and plenty of players have had down seasons early on in their careers as they’ve advanced and matured through the rigors of major league baseball, plus he’s already made an all star team.
But that’s the thing, Everth Cabrera might have the worst makeup of anyone currently playing in the major leagues. A list:
2012: Cabrera allegedly assaults his wife. Included in the police report are some pretty damning statements, “Cabrera assaulted his wife by hitting her in the face with a closed fist and slamming her head against the wall.” In today’s sporting world actions like that simply do not reflect a professional player, whether you like it or not.
2013: Cabrera is involved with biogenesis, gets suspended for 50 games in the midst of his all star season. I don’t necessarily have a problem with performance enhancing drugs, especially when it comes to the hall of fame, however involving oneself with biogenesis spouts some character issues and doesn’t give a player any wiggle room for other mistakes from a credibility standpoint.
2014: This year he was arrested for a) driving under the influence of marijuana and b) resisting arrest after being stopped. What’s particularly worrisome is the maximum penalty of 1 year in prison he faces if convicted of the charge. I shouldn’t have to tell you that both of these things, especially coming *after* the domestic assault accusations and biogenesis scandal is a very poor reflection on a player.
So there is is, 3 straight years, and 3 significant issues with either law enforcement, or major league baseball’s drug policy.
I get it, serve the time for the crime, and you deserve a second chance. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, but shouldn’t teams be concerned with a player who has legal issues over and over again? Cabrera was already non-tendered by the Padres mainly because of these concerns (as well as the fact that he wasn’t any good last season), so one organization already has no real reason to believe he will turn it around.
Friedman has a history of bringing in low character players as undervalued assets and hoping they work out, whether that’s signing the anti-semitic Delmon Young, whether that’s bringing in convicted rapist Josh Leuke, whether that’s the noted homophobe Yunel Escobar, these players are undervalued assets mainly because of their character flaws (as well as on the field shortcomings) that Friedman mostly got on a discount, and in most cases, they worked out pretty well.
But Friedman doesn’t have to do that in the 2nd biggest market in major league baseball. He doesn’t have to gamble on homophobes, or rapists, or racists, or wife beaters anymore. Get the best players because the resources are there, and even ignoring all of the off the field flaws Cabrera has, there are better options (Jimmy Rollins comes to mind, so does Alexei Ramirez, maybe a buy low on Stephen Drew is in the works), but this concept that Cabrera would be good for the Dodgers is amplified, and would certainly be underwhelming trying to root for Everth next season.