photo illustration by Samara Pearlstein
When we first heard that Miguel Cabrera had been traded to the Tigers, the reaction was generally one of happiness. Setting aside what the move might mean for other members of the team *cough*BrandonInge*cough*, acquiring Cabrera himself meant, in all likelihood, a big offensive boost for a lineup that already had some pretty lofty numbers. But some of us are also concerned with defense and believed that our incumbent third baseman *cough*BrandonInge*cough* was acres better than Miguel Cabrera could ever hope to be, especially if the rumors out of Florida were true and Cabrera had let himself get horribly out of shape.
The word ‘fat’ was thrown around, and around, and around. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a fat ballplayer, of course, so long as it doesn’t impact his ability to play baseball as well as he possibly can. Most people who had watched Cabrera play in Florida seemed to be saying that he had gained a lot of weight and he was NOT playing up to his peak ability because of it.
If the Tigers were going to trade away their entire farm system to get Cabrera (and Dontrelle), they had better be getting back Cabrera at peak performance, not Cabrera diluted.
Enter this Detroit Free Press Michael Rosenberg article on the subject!
One strange part of being a baseball fan in 2008 is that you want baseball players to be fit, but not too fit. Muscles are good, but really big muscles arouse suspicion.
Currently under suspicion: Nook Logan
Not currently under suspicion: Kyle Farnsworth
I am pleased to report from Saturday’s TigerFest that Miguel Cabrera looks excessively … good. He is fantastically … healthy.
Michael Rosenberg… might be hitting on Miguel Cabrera… with ellipses… indicating… serious intent. Cabrera’s kinda cute, so I won’t hold that against Rosenberg. The ellipses, however… those I will hold against him.
The Tigers acquired Cabrera in November, but there is less Cabrera now than there was then. He doesn’t know how much weight he lost. But he sure looks like he is in great shape.
“I feel like I had to lose,” Cabrera said. “I feel more comfortable.”
That’s what I wanted to hear. After all, this isn’t about how much Cabrera actually weighs. It isn’t about how he looks with his shirt off. It’s about Miguel Cabrera being IN SHAPE, at whatever size he happens to be. If the weight was keeping him from playing third base properly, then hell yes, that fish-turned-cat needed to lose some poundage. I did NOT get used to Brandon Inge’s 700-square-foot range at third just to find myself having to watch someone who can’t lunge more than a couple inches in any particular direction. No. I refuse to allow it.
The Rosenberg article then wandered off into a vague thing where Carlos Guillen talks about Miguel Cabrera and Miguel Cabrera talks about Vlad Guerrero and I lost interest and started watching the Australian Open.
The point is that, if Rosenberg’s assessment of Cabrera’s bodacious bod is to be believed, I am already feeling better about this trade. It also helps that no one had jumped at the Brandon Inge bait yet, so it seems like we might still get our wish and see him supersubbing it up in ’08. If Cabrera has gotten himself in shape, that indicates several good things:
1. He took the need to get in shape seriously, which says good things about his mindset.
2. He had the mental and physical fortitude necessary to get himself in shape.
3. He cares enough about the Tigers, and about his career on the Tigers, to bother getting himself in shape. The whole ‘making himself care’ thing may have been a bit of an issue on the Marlins.
Of course I’m still reserving judgement until I see Cabrera moving around on a diamond in Spring Training for myself, but this bodes quite well for him, and for the Tigers.
In vaguely related news, if you weren’t aware that Dontrelle Willis has his own blog, I highly suggest that you go check it out. It is WONDERFUL and if Dontrelle pitches well this year, I may be COMPLETELY IN LOVE.