Joe Maddon Trolls Miguel Cabrera

BACKSTORY: After the Detroit Tigers acquired the final out against the Tampa Bay Rays last Friday, third baseman Miguel Cabrera mimed appeared to mime, but may not have mimed the signature “arrow shot” Rays closer Fernando Rodney performs after each save (a gesture that appears to be an oblique tribute to his late father).

On Saturday, Miguel Cabrera faced Fernando Rodney and the Katniss-esque flamethrower had a few pitches go high, one going high and tight. Cabrera did not appreciate the pitches.

On Sunday, Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello of the 4.7% BB-rate hit his second batter of the season. It was with two outs in the first inning; it was the first pitch to Ben Zobrist. Both dugouts received a warning.

Then, in the bottom of the 8th, Miguel Cabrera came to the plate.

JOE MADDON, THUGGIN’: Joe Maddon had two relievers warning. He had his 8th inning setup man, Joel Peralta, warming in the ‘pen. He had his hard-throwing karate-master, brawl-champ, GIF-via-fight machine Kyle Farnsworth warming.

Kyle Farnsworth entered to face Miggy. Then this happened:


Let us put aside Miggy’s career numbers against Farnsworth (which lean in Miggy’s favor) and likewise put aside Miggy’s career splits against GB/FB pitcher-types (which weigh in Farnsworth’s favor, especially over extreme FB pitcher Joel Peralta). Let us put those items in a separate bucket and consider the message of this matchup.

Maddon brought in his enforcer and then did what he always does: Break the unwritten rules. He has historically shown a predisposition against HBP arms races, and he furthered that reputation on Sunday. Like a mobster who shows a pistol but does not look at or talk bout the firearm, Maddon opened the door for fear to enter Cabrera’s mind (see how Cabrera twists in, anticipating a beanball on the first pitch from Farnsworth) and also blasted a message to Tigers manager Jim Leyland. It would appear the two managers play different games.

Maddon saved his more direct, less-nuanced messages for the post-game interview:

[Miguel Cabrera] is outstanding, he’s wonderful. I just wish he wouldn’t cry so much.

If that’s not MLB-level trolling, then what is?



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Bradley writes for FanGraphs and The Hardball Times. Follow him on Twitter @BradleyWoodrum.


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Spencer Steel
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Spencer Steel

As a Detroiter, I catch most Tigers games, and about once a game Cabrera will do something very unprofessional. Sometimes it’s appealing his own checked swing to the first-base umpire. Once in a while he’ll nod at a pitcher after striking out, which doesn’t seem like a big deal but is really saying “congratulations on getting the great Cabrera out”. He OFTEN stares out at the pitcher for an extended period of time after ANY pitch thrown inside (even if belt-high and not the Rodney pitch that was up near the head). You’re the best hitter in the game; just hit.

As far as the Rodney pitch and Leyland’s ridiculous response, if Fernando knew where the hell the ball was going he’d still be wearing a Tigers uniform and pitching high-leverage relief. Someone is going to get really, really hurt one of these days on a beanball, and that’ll be a lot worse than a guy getting hit by a pitch that got away. These managers will tell you that they “know” when guys are purposely throwing upstairs, but for the most part that sounds like most of the drivel that comes out of most of the managers’ mouths.

Jonathan
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Jonathan

“Someone is going to get really, really hurt one of these days on a beanball, and that’ll be a lot worse than a guy getting hit by a pitch that got away.”

I’d argue the complete opposite. Someone’s a lot more likely to get hurt by a fastball inside that gets away than an intentional bean ball.

An intent drilling is usually between the letters and offspead. A fastball going inside on someone that gets away, on the other hand, means someone’s probably taking a 90+ MPH pitch off the wrist (Middlebrooks last year) or shoulder or even face (Bradley last year).

TheGrandslamwich
Member
TheGrandslamwich

I’m not sure what baseball you’re watching, but intentional HBP’s are never off speed pitches.

Jake
Guest
Jake

You view his appealing to the 1st base umpire on checked swings as unprofessional? I’ve always just thought of it as a weird, cool quirk.

And you think his nodding at the pitcher is a way to say “congratulations on getting the great Cabrera out?” Where in the world do you get that from?

You seem to be reading way into ambiguous actions, while unnecessarily interpreting what he does in a negative light.

MTUCache
Guest
MTUCache

Ditto…. fellow Detroiter here. I don’t see any of these as “unprofessional”, as much as they show how much he really enjoys playing the game and how passionate he is about it.

I mean, giving a nod to a pitcher with a particularly nasty breaking ball in a fastball count isn’t exactly the same thing as “Manny being Manny”, is it?

Frankly, if that’s how you read Cabrera’s body language and behavior, I’ve got to assume that you’re looking for reasons not to like him.

MonkeyEpxoy
Guest
MonkeyEpxoy

Yeah, appealing your own check swing is only good when Adrian Beltre does it. In that case, it’s just cute.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

This must be Dave Cameron’s comment account. I can’t think of any other reason for the hilariously biased Miggy hate in this post.

BookWorm
Guest
BookWorm

Are you referring to the same Dave Cameron who wrote that in an article last week that, “this post is just about Miguel Cabrera, and appreciating how good he actually is, because as a follow-up to his Triple Crown season, Cabrera’s 2013 season is shaping up to be his best season yet, and one of the best offensive seasons in baseball history“? Yeah, Dave Cameron is totally biased against Miguel Cabrera…

Jason Collette
Guest
Jason Collette

After the game, Joe said – “Look, we don’t use the matchup numbers you guys in the media use. Kyle was in there for the matchup we saw” — and did it with a great poker face.

Spencer Steel
Guest
Spencer Steel

Jason, I have to admit I’d have LOVED to see Farnsworth throw Cabrera way in and force Miggy to either to back up the running of his mouth or STFU. Based on what I’ve heard about Farnsworth, the second couse seems far more prudent.

The Dude
Member
Member
The Dude

Cabrera approached the at bat with was best described as a “fear smirk” – perfectly played by Maddon as nobody got hurt. The most revealing tell was Peralta warming at the same time with the game 3-1. No manager is going to put a runner on base in the top of the 8th up 3-1 on purpose.

Jamie
Guest
Jamie

I would argue that putting a runner on base because you are mad at him is always bad strategy, regardless of the game situation.

Bronzan
Member
Bronzan

I love this move by Maddon. It might only work for one pitch, but what a great mindset to put an opposing batter in. You have to take any advantage you can against a hitter like Cabrera. Certainly not to the same effect, but it’s like John Kruk against Randy Johnson in the All Star Game.

LockWare
Guest
LockWare

Cabrera didn’t mimic Rodney’s arrow shot. Watch video that you linked to more closely. He points up at the ceiling either as a religious gesture, or he is pointing to where Prince hit a bomb a few innings earlier. The latter would make the most sense, as the video shows that he was clearly looking in Prince’s direction as he did it.

Also, Rodney himself said that he thought Cabrera was thanking God in that situation:

Hilarious move by Maddon in this situation, but I think it’s clear that Cabrera wasn’t mocking anybody at the end of the previous game.

Tim
Guest
Tim

Can we stop pretending that Maddon is any different from every other baseball manager. He defends his guys when they do shit like this and he attacks opposing players for doing the same thing.

So Miggy mocked your closer’s touchdown dance, that’s why you’re upset. Man, you’re so progressive.

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