Giants Acquire Orlando Cabrera

Not content with Jeff Keppinger and Carlos Beltran as trade deadline acquisitions, the San Francisco Giants added veteran middle infielder Orlando Cabrera to the mix. In exchange for Cabrera, the Giants sent 23-year-old outfielder Thomas Neal to the Cleveland Indians – who had little use for Cabrera after Jason Kipnis was promoted.

Prior to the 2011 season, Marc Hulet rated Neal as the sixth best prospect in the Giants’ system. Following a breakout campaign in 2009, Neal has been unable to recapture his Cal-League production while advancing through the system. He currently has a .335 wOBA in Triple-A, and could be a decent platoon player or fourth outfielder down the road.

While the Keppinger move solidified one side of the middle infield for the Giants, the other side remains a black hole of offensive production. Cabrera provides the club with another option, but not much of an upgrade from what is already in San Francisco. As a group, Giants shortstops are hitting .221/.279/.299. Their collective .261 wOBA is just behind the Brewers (.258) and Braves (.251) for the worst mark in the National League at the position.

With that in mind, you could call Cabrera’s .244/.277/.321 slash line and .268 wOBA an upgrade. That said, it is far from a solution to the current problem. While Cabrera may be able to turn the position’s offensive production from horrible to miserable, any minimal gain (if that) is likely negated by his work on defense.

As a member of the tribe, Cabrera shifted from his customary shortstop to second base; however, the move could not mask his diminishing range. Sliding back to shortstop should only make matters worse. Despite that fact, O-Cab figures to get the lion’s share of playing time at shortstop for the Giants. This should be the case even as Tejada – who currently on the disabled list with an abdominal strain – returns to the club as soon as next week.

After finding value in the Keppinger move, I’m struggling to find a silver lining with this one. Cabrera may be a slightly better option than Tejada or Crawford, but I do not see much of an upgrade over Mike Fontenot (.288 wOBA); certainly not enough to give up a mid-level prospect to secure his services. On the one hand, Cabrera is playoff tested and has been durable for the last decade-plus, but without production those attributes do little to help the Giants run for another championship.



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Tommy Rancel also writes for Bloomberg Sports and ESPNFlorida.com. Follow on twitter @TRancel


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Dan Morris
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Dan Morris
4 years 11 months ago

This really is the worst kind of Sabean trade — the knee-jerk prospect-for-veteran swap. Not that Thomas Neal will be long lamented, but given the state of all the shortstop bats (Cabrera’s included) I’m more inclined to just stick Crawford out there and get the benefit of his leather.

Sitting Curveball
Member
4 years 11 months ago

My favorite memory of Orlando in Cleveland will always be that one time he took a walk.

soladoras
Member
soladoras
4 years 11 months ago

Yeah, this trade was depressing. Should have been able to get an upgrade at catcher, not Miguel Tejada’s twin.

Jon
Guest
Jon
4 years 11 months ago

As an Indians fan I am pumped about this trade! Will be happy even if Neal doesn’t make the majors because it means Manny Acta can’t play Cabrera over Kipnis and bat him 5th!

Tom
Guest
Tom
4 years 11 months ago

UZR rates Cabrera pretty okay at SS over the last couple years.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Crawford showed a pretty good eye at the plate but that’s about it. A big share of his offensive production occured in his first 4 games in May. Since then he’s hit well south of the Mendoza line.

Fonty has been ice cold since coming back from his injury and he wasn’t doing too well before then. I know OCab is no great shakes as a defensive shortstop, but I’m pretty sure Fonty is worse no matter what the UZR’s say.

Yes it was a desperation deal but probably one that had to be made. I think OCab will be a marginal upgrade on the current situation which is OK. The Giants don’t need a huge upgrade.

I hope Crawford finds his bat with more time in the minors because he a fun to watch with the glove. He has good range, very good balance, sure hands and a great arm.

marcello
Member
marcello
4 years 11 months ago

If the upside is “marginal upgrade”, it’s probably a bad deal.

DrBGiantsfan
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Point is, the Giants don’t NEED more than a marginal upgrade and a big upgrade was not available.

BTW, OCab looked pretty spry out there at shortstop today, one of the few bright spots in an otherwise horrible game for the Giants. He definitely has more range left than either Tejada or Fontenot.

GiantHusker
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GiantHusker
4 years 11 months ago

Actually, the author didn’t say “marginal upgrade,” he said of his offense, “any minimal gain (if that) is likely negated by his work on defense.”
I wholeheartedly concur.
Admittedly, these are tiny samples, but so far Sabean’s mid-season pickups have recorded the following WAR’s:
Keppinger 0.1
Cabrera -0.1
Beltran -0.2
Hall -0.6
At least Hall is gone.

Freddy T
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Freddy T
4 years 11 months ago

Who knew Tejada had a doppleganger and that Sabean would roster both? Yuck.

AF
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AF
4 years 11 months ago

You can’t write about this trade without looking at platoon splits.

Crawford and Fontenot are both left-hand hitters and Tejada, apparently, is unacceptable defensively. Crawford against lefties is like having another pitcher in the line-up; Fontenot is sub-replacement level (and please don’t talk to me about his 39 AB against lefties this year). A Cabrera/Fontenot platoon is a clear upgrade for the Giants.

I can’t judge the trade overall because I don’t know anything about Neal — given his past display of upside he seems like slightly too much to give up for someone like Cabrera. But to say there’s no rationale without talking about platoon splits is to miss the point entirely.

ElJimador
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ElJimador
4 years 11 months ago

For the Giants this trade would make more sense if Cabrera was going to replace Tejada (better range) and platoon not with Fontenot but with Crawford, who is not only their best SS defensively but who’s been a better hitter than his numbers suggest as well (note the .214 BAbip despite decent contact and better than MLB average BB and K rates). But of course this is the Giants we’re talking about so of course the rookie Crawford was guy sent packing to make room for Cabrera.

That said, the Giants seemed determined of late to bury Crawford on the bench whether they acquired another SS or not. So given that reality, is Cabrera at least an upgrade over Fontenot and Tejada? Yeah probably. So I can see the logic of the move in that respect. It’s just frustrating to see the better, younger player get passed over by yet another “proven veteran” hanging on to the last remnants of his career.

AF
Guest
AF
4 years 11 months ago

Crawford has been a better hitter than his numbers suggest, but that’s not saying much as his numbers are .190/275/.261. His numbers are AA the last two years are .258/294/.365, and .241/.337/.375. His sole stretch of above average hitting as a professional occurred in less than 200 PA at single-A spread between 2009 and 2011. Crawford is, at this stage, a below-replacement SS at the bat. The Giants can’t really afford that given they have the same thing going on at C and the rest of their line-up other than Beltran and Sandoval is pretty bad too. They needed to do what they could to scratch out a couple more runs, and a Cabrera/Fontenot platoon is the best bet for that.

Charlotte
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Charlotte
4 years 11 months ago

Renteria leaves. Cabrera enters. The cosmic ballet goes on.

Grebe
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Grebe
4 years 11 months ago

Does anyone want to switch seats?

dustygator
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dustygator
4 years 11 months ago

Every year, Sabean proves his reputation for having a fetish for aging no-long the player they used to be shortstops. Vizquel, Uribe, Renteria, Tejada, Orlando Cabera. My money is on Rollins becoming the next member of this esteemed group.

RoyaleWithCheese
Member
RoyaleWithCheese
4 years 11 months ago

Vizquel and Uribe really shouldn’t be lumped in with those other guys. Vizquel was still pretty good when he first signed with the Giants. Uribe was signed to a minor league deal, so there was not a lot of risk involved.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Your looking for motivation versus Fontenot to get Cabrera. Heres one set:

Fontenot for the season,

BA vs. AZ 0.000
BA vs. MW 0.000
BA vs. ATL 0.000
BA vs. STL 0.000

Averages are a deceptive tools, use them carefully. These teams significance are, of course, obvious.

The End
Guest
The End
4 years 11 months ago

how about add plate appearances there for some context.

what was he, 0 for 4 vs. each of those teams?

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

10, 6, 3, 5, repectively and let me add

BA vs PHI 0.000 with 7 AB.

so across 31 AB against your major competition both within the division and among playoff competition, a 0.000. That must be a record, and it’s so easily averaged.

The End
Guest
The End
4 years 11 months ago

doesn’t mean anything – just SSS. seriously consider a course in Statistics to get a better understanding.

channelclemente
Guest
4 years 11 months ago

Better a course in the real world as opposed to a life of self deception. Perhaps you remember the cardinal rule of evaluating a statistical treatment of data, if it looks like sh*t, it probably is. In any case, this is an exercise in arithmetic, well within your abilities.

Serge
Guest
Serge
4 years 11 months ago

Not that the Giants needed Neal, but they certainly didn’t need OCab. Aging vets who display little to no potential are Sabean and Bochy’s forte. Guys who used to produce once upon a time and perhaps even flashed a glimmer of their past usefulness in a recent (albeit from last season) contest are being acquired by a senior executive of the Giants organization even though they’re barely out-performing their inexperienced minor league counterparts. It’s clear that these moves were done in an effort to save upper managements’ jobs. The long term success of this organization does not matter to Sabean (as has been shown in the past; just compare his contract status to when Lincecum and Posey were called up) – he’s the perfect example of a mortgager of the future to solidify that of the present.

Neal and Wheeler may become a 4th OFer and a #3/4 starter in the future, respectively, but that doesn’t defend the outright ignorance of potential by the man the organization & city has been entrusting to lead them deep into the postseason. It’s not that Beltran may not deliver huge production (he probably will: see his 2004 2nd half); it’s that this pattern of behavior by Sabean is caustic to an organization that should expect to win its sell-off division.

Tidrow better keep drafting amazing talent because Sabean still has a job to protect.

Bill
Guest
Bill
4 years 11 months ago

Well, if this trade works out like Sabean’s trades last year, Cabrera will turn into Troy Tulowitski for the next three months.

Serge
Guest
Serge
4 years 11 months ago

I can almost hear Sabean saying to his cronies: “He hit almost .300 in a very pitcher-friendly league, he must be ready for AAA and the PCL.” Under normal circumstances that would be alright if his OPS wasn’t sub .800 and he wasn’t just 22 in AA showing minimal power production (.149 ISO). Assuming Sabean thought he was ready for the upper minors (which he clearly was not, given his underwhelming stats in the PCL this year), why promote him quickly and give up on him just as fast? I think Sabean zeroed in on an middle infielder and gambled that Neal wasn’t a major league prospect anymore. Why he focused on a 36 yr old who had been recently benched for a barely-above-.500 team is beyond me, but we all know how much Sabs and Bochy love their godawful veteran players…probably remind Bochy of himself a little bit.

Serge
Guest
Serge
4 years 11 months ago

I love the “we need a righty SS” argument. Does Bochy realize that 75% of the league’s pitching is right-handed?

Serge
Guest
Serge
4 years 11 months ago

Yup Vizquel was good when the SFG signed him, coming off a .291/.353/.388 season with the Indians, though he did put a .750 OPS his 2nd yr with the Giants. Always good to acquire shortstops for their 38-40 year old seasons; I hear that’s when they really hit their peak.

wes
Guest
wes
4 years 11 months ago

jesus you guys are taking this way to hard. orlando cabrera has won almost everywhere he’s played, and been to the post season a ton. stop barking about statistics for a minute and see that you weren’t getting any production there anyway. cabrera will make the plays, and mesh in the clubhouse. he fits the team much better than beltran, who is, by my best observation, a lifeless shell of a human being.

How did the ginats win the world series last year? with a high ops, stat lover’s dream playing ss? no, they won it with edgar renteria.

GiantHusker
Guest
GiantHusker
4 years 11 months ago

Oh, God, no, not the his-teams-have-won argument. That’s really scraping the bottom of the barrel.
Why are we not seeing a bunch of Reds fans gloating over dumping a worthless player for anything at all?

GiantHusker
Guest
GiantHusker
4 years 11 months ago

Oops, I meant to say Indians fans.

Wes
Guest
Wes
4 years 11 months ago

Where’s the short stop tree? I need to pick a fresh one that will be under team control for 5 years, is 6-4, has UZRZZZZ out the ass, hits 40 HR and never strikes out.

Depth is depth. Giants guy, for getting lucky and winning a world series with guys like Renteria, Rowand, Uribe, Cody Ross, you sure don’t seem to appreciate it.

It’s the difference between a battle tested major league player and some AA prospect that wasn’t going to help at all. They’ll draft someone else in the 36th round next year and let Cabrera walk away. One ring and people act this spoiled? It’s the effect of having never seen a winner before I guess.

Derek Lowe is an organic chemist and MLB Pitcher
Guest
Derek Lowe is an organic chemist and MLB Pitcher
4 years 11 months ago

I hate that Objectivist, Orlando Cabrera.

DownwiththeDH
Member
DownwiththeDH
4 years 10 months ago

There are intangibles to consider here. Asdrubal Cabrera credits Orlando for changing his hitting approach and look at the results. I doubt anyone will claim another Jose Bautista/Asdrubal Cabrera like transformation for Giants infielders, but his attitude and experience will only help struggling players. I know most of you hate this type of claim because you can’t quantify it and you don’t have access to what all managers think about players in this regard, but that doesn’t make it a farce.

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