Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why Do Teams Keep Passing on Orlando Cabrera

I've had this conversation numerous times with friends of mine and I finally decided to something. My friend Barry, who is a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, says he wishes Orlando Cabrera would have stayed in Boston post-2004. There is no denying that Cabrera was an important part of the magical 2004 Boston Red Sox team. After coming up with the Montreal Expos in 1997, Cabrera played in Montreal for almost eight seasons, coming to the Red Sox in a pivotal four team trade.

In case there are you who aren't familiar with the trade, the Boston Red Sox sent Nomar Garciaparra and Matt Murton to the Chicago Cubs. The Minnesota Twins sent Doug Mientkiewicz to the Boston Red Sox. The Chicago Cubs sent Francis Beltran, Alex Gonzalez and Brendan Harris to the Montreal Expos. The Chicago Cubs sent Justin Jones (minors) to the Minnesota Twins. The Montreal Expos sent Orlando Cabrera to the Boston Red Sox and into the history books as being a member of the 1st Boston Red Sox team to win a World Series since the 1918 team.

So why was he not resigned? Why did the Red Sox let an important cog to their team sign a three-year deal with league rival the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim? The same can be asked about later teams who either traded Cabrera (to the Chicago White Sox for Jon Garland and to the Minnesota Twins for minor leaguer Tyler Ladendorf) or let him walk in free-agency (Chicago, Minnesota and Cincinnati). It seems to me that a player with a career .274 batting average and since 2001 has played in 160 or more five times and in 150 or more games eight times can be a productive member of any team. So why does he keep moving around.

It seems that the issues comes from management. I found a forum page from the Royal Rooters of the Red Sox Nation page. On this forum page, a few of the comments weigh in on a some points that could have led to the Boston Red Sox passing on signing Cabrera after the 2004 season. Many have to do with his extra-curricular activities. I won't go into some of them since they seem to be somewhat out there and somewhat salacious. Here is the link to the forum page What caused the Sox to walk away from Orlando Cabrera. Now I am not advocating this point of view in any way, shape or form. I'm just passing along what I've found and I'll let you make any judgments.

Maybe it was a case of going after a better shortstop in Edgar Renteria (which as we know had a horrible 2005 in Boston and was traded to the Atlanta Braves after the season). Looking back now, the move proved valuable to the Red Sox since they received two draft picks from the Angels for signing Cabrera which are now in the form of Jed Lowrie and Jacoby Ellsbury. In Chicago, Cabrera had arguments with official scorers, managers and calling out of teammates in radio interviews which I can see rubbing people the wrong way both on the bench and in the front office. But it still doesn't answer the question. Why can't Cabrera stay on from more than a year or two with a single team.

Maybe I'm reading too much into this. Maybe it is just a case of Orlando Cabrera being the kind of player that gets traded to a contender for the playoff push and/or he's a player that gets signed to play shortstop for one year until a prospect is ready to take his position. Will he play out the entire season with the Cleveland Indians or will he be traded mid-season to a contender. Anyone out there have a differing point of view on why this is the situation with Cabrera? Any ideas?


For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access What caused the Sox to walk away from Orlando Cabrera from the webpage
- Click Here to access Tom Fornelli's article Orlando Cabrera Feels Neglected from's webpage dated May 28, 2008
- Click Here to access Mark Potash's article Orlando Cabrera Isn't The Sox' Problem from the Chicago Herald-American weblog dated September 8, 2008


  1. I loved OC, but those Boston stories were pervasive. My understanding (all 15th-party speculation of course) was that he's a good dude who got messed up into the wrong situations and had to go. They said the same things about Derek Lowe. As for on the field, I always felt like he didn't tailor his swing/approach to his strengths, the old "can't walk off the island" thing LOL. I would always find room for him on my team, though.

  2. I would argue that teams aren't interested in keeping Cabrera around because he's simply not as good as his batting average would indicate (in large part because batting average is a bad way to estimate overall value). But beyond that, you have to keep in mind that his offensive performance has been in decline since 2007, and that his defense isn't good enough anymore to carry his bat, and that he's 35, meaning he's highly unlikely to bounce back to being a useful player. At this point in his career, he's a stop-gap solution at best, and you can find better options (like Edgar Renteria, for example) on the open market or in your minor league system for similar money.

    Good luck with the blog.

  3. Thanks for the comments. I think the Red Sox nation would disagree on Edgar Renteria being a better option especially after they turned sour on him in 2005 when Cabrera signed with the Angels. But I do see the point where Cabrera is in decline but I believe he can still be productive in the right situation.