Nov 27, 2009, 11:43 AM EDT
Prior to signing Alex Gonzalez yesterday the Blue Jays apparently looked into Orlando Cabrera, but balked at his reported asking price of two years and $10 million.
Cabrera received tons of credit for the Twins’ dramatic late-season turnaround after batting .411 with 21 runs and 16 RBIs over the final 16 games, but also hit a putrid .237/.268/.361 in his first 43 games with Minnesota.
Add it all up and he hit .289/.313/.430 with the Twins after batting .280/.318/.385 with the A’s, both of which are very close to his .275/.322/.398 career line and the .271/.328/.393 average for MLB shortstops. That type of modest production would be perfectly acceptable from a strong defensive shortstop, but at 35 years old Cabrera has ceased fitting that description.
Having watched him every day during the second half, it was painfully obvious to me that Cabrera has lost significant range and no longer has the arm strength necessary to make anything beyond routine plays at shortstop. Ultimate Zone Rating agrees with my eyes, pegging Cabrera as 6.2 runs below average defensively in 57 games with Minnesota and -13.7 runs in 158 games overall this season.
He’d be a palatable one-year stop gap for teams with big holes at shortstop, but he’s probably not worth $5 million per season in this market and giving Cabrera a mutli-year deal would be a huge mistake. Average offensively and below average defensively is a recipe for disaster in a mid-30s shortstop, so the Blue Jays were smart to turn their attention to Gonzalez.
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