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Asdrubal Cabrera Injured; Donald Recalled

Don’t expect to see Asdrubal Cabrera take the field again anytime soon, as the switch-hitting shortstop suffered a broken left forearm last evening against the Rays. Cabrera collided with 3B Jhonny Peralta on a Hank Blalock ground ball hit up the middle (the infield was shifted for the lefty pull hitter). There’s no firm estimate on how much time he’ll miss, but Cabrera is likely headed for surgery.

The former M’s prospect was off to a mild start in 2010, batting .287/.322/.368 (.303 wOBA) in 149 plate appearances. Cabrera’s plate discipline was off-kilter, as he swung at 28.5 percent of pitches outside of the zone and took a hack at just 59.6 percent of in-zone pitches. For comparison, Cabrera’s career O-Swing is 24.7, and his Z-Swing is 65.7. Chasing more offerings off the dish and keeping the bat on the shoulder more often when the pitcher puts one in the strike zone is a recipe for fewer walks, and Cabrera’s rate of free passes taken was down to 4.7. Also, after nabbing 17 bases in 21 tries in 2009, Cabrera had just one SB and 2 CS in 2010.

In his place, the Indians will turn to a combination of Luis Valbuena and the recently recalled Jason Donald.

Valbuena, 24, has a career .235/.301/.387 triple-slash in 544 major league PA. The lefty hitter, himself a former Mariner, has shown decent secondary skills for a middle infielder (8.3 BB%, .152 ISO).

However, Valbuena has punched out 24.3 percent of the time and he has a track record of scuffling against southpaw pitching. During his minor league career, Valbuena had a .241/.319/.311 line vs. LHP. His managers have gone to great lengths to shield him from lefties in the majors: just 12 percent of his big league PA have come against same-side pitching. Questionable D at the keystone won’t help his big for more playing time, either (career -9.3 UZR/150 at 2B, and ugly numbers at short in a small sample of playing time). ZiPS projects a .247/.317/.377 line for Valbuena for the rest of the 2010 season, with a .308 wOBA.

Donald, meanwhile, was a part of the underwhelming collection of talent Cleveland acquired from Philadelphia in exchange for Cliff Lee in July of 2009. The Arizona product has a career .284/.371/.434 line as a minor leaguer, with a 10.3 percent walk rate, a 23 percent K rate and a .150 Isolated Power. Donald was off to a .277/.396/.423 start at Triple-A Columbus in 2010. Neither ZiPS (.290 wOBA) nor CHONE (.299 wOBA) had especially sunny major league forecasts for him.

The 25-year-old ranked as Baseball America’s #69 prospect prior to 2009, but he missed time with left knee and back injuries last year and slipped to 15th in the Indians’ system before 2010. Almost exclusively a shortstop before this season, Donald had mostly been playing second base with Columbus. BA called him a “fringy defensive shortstop whose range and overall defensive skill set might be better suited for second base.”

While the Tribe will turn to Valbuena and Donald, fantasy owners seeking to fill the void created by Cabrera’s injury should look elsewhere. Shortstops with low Yahoo ownership rates include: Everth Cabrera (11%), Alcides Escobar (13%) and Ian Desmond (14%, and also has 2B eligibility). Maicer Izturis (19%) qualifies at short, second and third, and he could nab a good chunk of Brandon Wood‘s playing time at the hot corner once he returns from a shoulder injury.