Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A shocker at Comerica Park

Not THAT kind of shocker. Get your minds out of the gutter, you pervs! The shocker was an announcement made by the Marlboro Man after the Tigers 10-2 win over the Rangers.

Miguel Cabrera is now the Tigers full time 1st baseman, while former shortstop and 1st baseman Carlos Guillen takes over at the hot corner.

When asked for a reason why, all Jim Leyland would tell the media was, "It makes us a better team."

As Leyland doesn't want to give a reason, we can only speculate. And isn't that what bloggers do best? So let's speculate away!

1. It's obvious Cabrera is not a very good defensive 3rd baseman. In fact, it's safe to say he blows. He has the arm, but neither the range or hands needed to play the position well. Sometime during the next 8 years (The length of his current contract), he was going to switch positions, be to left field or 1st base. Cabrera looks much more comfortable at 1st, and his powerful bat is tailor made for the position.

2. It's obvious Guillen is not a very good defensive 1st baseman. In fact, it's safe to say he blows. His defensive play at 1st has been underwhelming. What is more worrisome is Guillen was playing 1st in a dangerous way. Reaching into the runner for a throw, straddling the baseline while awaiting a throw, those are moves that will get you killed at 1st base. It's wasn't a matter of if Guillen would collide with a base runner, but a matter of when. I played the position my entire life, I can flat out guarantee you he was going to get run over, and it would have been ugly.

3. Guillen has played 3rd in the past, spending 100 games there during his Mariners days. So it's not like it's a totally foreign position for him. Guillen has the arm, without question. His range at short was lacking, but at 3rd it shouldn't be as much of an issue. He won't be Brandon Inge, but who is?

4. My one concern? Gullen was moved to 1st base because it was supposed to be easier on his creaky knees. Will playing 3rd base allow him that luxury? It's hard to say, though it's not as demanding a position as short. You need to ask yourself a question. What's worse? Guillen having the occasional sore knee, or being carried off the field with a concussion/broken wrist/torn up knee?

5. The move allows Leyland to use Inge all over the field, and actually sit Pudge more than once a month. He's on track to play close to 150 games. Not a good strategy when your catcher is 36 years old. Brandon Inge is much more valuable to the Tigers as a super-sub than as a 3rd baseman. He'll still play 3rd on occasion, but this move means his days as the starter at the hot corner are officially done.

The more I think about this lineup change, the more I like it. Leyland was correct, this move actually makes the Tigers a better team. They will be better defensively, it will be easier to keep 2 players extremely vital to the Tigers everyday lineup healthy, and doesn't hurt them one bit on offense.

If there are any drawbacks to this move, I haven't found them. As long as both Cabrera and Guillen approve, and they obviously do, then the switch is in the team's best interest.


  1. I remember Sparky Anderson's decision in '81 or '82 to move Enos Cabell to first base. He was the worst I've ever seen. I even wrote Sparky a letter telling him to get Cabell to at least stretch with the proper foot on the base, i.e. the one opposite the hand with the glove on it. Three days later Cabell actually was doing it properly. Of course, that persuaded Sparky to keep him for another two years, until after the '83 season when the Tigers cut ties with him. His agent, Tom Reich, said "The Tigers are going to regret losing Enos Cabell in 1984." Right. No one else picked him up either. He hit about .310 in '83, but it was the emptiest .310 in history with an OBP of about .325 and a slugging % of about .340. Good riddance.

  2. Enos Cabell! I haven't thought about that light hitting corner infielder in years. For good reason, as you say.

    Cabell was one of those "gritty" players mangers loved. It's amazing a player with such little offensive pop could play a corner positions for 15 seasons. My God, he had absolutely no power, yet played 1B/3B/LF/RF! In today's game, Cabell wouldn't hit enough to play catcher, let alone a power position!

    Baseball is a different game today.