San Francisco Giants Leave Melky Cabrera Off Postseason Roster; Best Move?

Beck Diefenbach-US PRESSWIRE

The San Francisco Giants have indicated that they will do without the services of Melky Cabrera after he returns from his 50-game suspension, if the team were to advance to the NL Championship series.  Cabrera, who was suspended for testing positive for increased levels of testosterone, will not likely fight the team’s decision.

According to sources, the Giants will announce the news on Thursday, ending the debate of whether the 28-year-old switch hitter will return to his team.

“I think he needs to know and we need to know,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

If Cabrera were to return to the team, he could be assigned to a rehab stint as soon as Saturday, according to the league’s joint drug agreement.  However, Cabrera would not be sent to the minors considering the league’s playoffs ended this past week.  As a result, he would have to face an alternative instructional league.

“It’s not like he can play anywhere…face some good competition on the rehab,” Bochy said.  “That’s what you have to look at.  When you bring back somebody who’s been on the DL for an extended period it takes time to be ready.  It’s not that easy a game.

“Of course you’re looking at the guys that you have.  (Gregor) Blanco’s done a good job, and (Xavier) Nady, he’s really coming on and swinging the bat well.  … That’s what we have to look at.  What’s going to be more valuable to us?  Somebody who hasn’t been playing or the guys who have been here playing, and things have been going well here.”

While Bochy might think the Giants left-fielders have impressed as of late, statistically speaking, it might not be the case.  Cabrera’s replacement platoon consists of both outfielders Blanco and Nady.  The 28-year-old Blanco has struggled as an everyday starter, batting .271 with no home runs.  In lieu of his offensive deficiencies, the Giants called up utility man Nady to serve as a right-handed hitting specialist.

In 11 games,  he’s batted well, averaging a .333/.412/.433 slash line.  But Bochy still feels uncomfortable slotting him in as the everyday starter due to his year-to-date .197 average.  If Nady has dug himself out of his early season slump, then the Giants have found there everyday starter.  If not, Cabrera’s presence will be greatly missed.

The advantage of bringing in Cabrera is obvious.  Before he was suspended on Aug. 15, he was in-line for the NL batting title, hitting .346 and lead ing the league in hits and runs scored.  If he does return, he could replace the platoon of left-fielders, who then could be used for situational hitting (Nady) and defense (Blanco).  Together, their contributions could be the difference maker if the Giants were to make it past the first round of the playoffs.

However, the notion of bringing in Cabrera does have some strings attached.  For one, there is no guarantee that Cabrera will be able to hit with his extended layoff.  The pitchers he would face in his rehab stint are, by no means, close to major league arms.  Any indication that Cabrera is back to his old self would be met with this concern.  And when he could hit, there was no saying how much PED use contributed to his production.

Moreover, media distraction could cause a stir in the clubhouse and could translate to on-field problems.  Even though, Buster Posey and Angel Pagan have both indicated that they’d welcome him with open arms.

In the end, the Giants extended their lead over their NL-West rival Los Angeles Dodgers without Cabrera and notched their bid for the 2012 playoffs ten games before the season ended.  If he doesn’t return to the team, the Giants will be fine.  They’ve come this far without him, so there’s no sense in changing what works.

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