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Free Agent Target: Melky Cabrera


I’m not sure that anyone wanted to tackle Melky Cabrera as a free agent, so I figured it was time that I went for it. The obvious reason that he shouldn’t be considered is that he was suspended for 50 games for PED usage. There is going to be a small faction of people that wouldn’t consider signing him for just that. Oh! To live in a black and white world of idealism! The reality is, if the Tigers feel like Melky Cabrera can help their ball club in 2013, they owe it to their fans to kick the tires.

Aug 8, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) slides into second base with a double as St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Tyler Greene (27) receives the late throw at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE

Let’s get beyond the bad press idea here. Especially in Detroit. This city loves to forgive its athletes. They forgave Miguel Cabrera for multiple alcohol issues. They forgave Delmon Young as well. Well, maybe not forgave, but just didn’t make that big of deal out of it. This is the kind of town where if you are an athlete and produce, let’s just say we can forgive a few trespasses upon society.

So, I am done with the steroid thing as a public stigma. It’s a non factor as a matter of bad publicity. Where it could a factor is in the level of Melky Cabrera’s play. Prior to 2011, when Cabrera broke out in a big way, he was a very pedestrian player. Though he was a pretty well thought of prospect, and got regular time with the Yankees as a 21 year old, Cabrera never posted above a 100 OPS+ until 2011 as a Royal. That obviously makes people think “there you go…steroids”.

But what can’t be discounted is that Melky Cabrera turned 26 years old in 2011. After five full seasons in the big leagues, maybe Cabrera just started to put things together because he was figuring out how to play the game of baseball. Maybe it was a combination of the two.

I am going to come right out and say it. I think it is feasible, that while PED’s could’ve easily been a factor in Cabrera’s upsurge in production (especially power), his ability to make solid contact could easily be explained as growing as a player as well.

So what does this all mean? What can the team who signs Cabrera expect from him in 2013? I certainly don’t know with any certainty, and nobody can claim they do, but I think we don’t see a huge fall off here. Obviously there was a ton of intrigue surrounding Ryan Braun before the 2012 season and how he would do. Well, he did just fine. I’m not saying Melky Cabrera is going to post an OPS of over .900 like he was doing with the Giants last season. But the one of just over .800 that he posted with the Royals in 2011 is feasible.

PED’s remember don’t help a player hit a baseball. They might help a player be a little stronger, but more importantly a little fresher on a day to day basis. I think that is why a lot of older players were under suspicion. To prolong their careers. Melky Cabrera is under 30 years still. There is plenty of baseball left on those tires.

Cabrera also fits what the Tigers are looking for. He isn’t going to sign a long term contract, and it isn’t going to be for huge dollars. 2013 is a year that Cabrera is going to spend proving to all of baseball that he can play without the boost. Why wouldn’t the Tigers go for it? Even if Melky Cabrera hit .280 with a .750 OPS, I think that is probably better than the expected contribution from what they currently have on the roster. He is pretty athletic, switch hits, and could fit nicely in the 2nd spot in the order on a daily basis.

I realize it would be a gamble, but in general, that’s what free agency is anyway. I just don’t see the huge drop off in production that others inherently believe will happen when someone gets caught using PED’s. Some of the other guys that might have seen a drop off in production were a little bit older. I think that is the bigger factor.

What do you all think? Do you care that he got caught using PED’s? Do you think he could help the Tigers?