Cabrera, Tigers drop the ball
Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press/MCT
The Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, left, with Vice President/Assistant General Manager Al Avila, right, interperting for him, speaks with media for the first time about his recent DUI arrest at the Tigers’ spring training complex in Lakeland, Fla.
When news broke that Detroit Tigers all-star first baseman Miguel Cabrera was arrested last month for suspicion of drunk driving and resisting arrest, Tigers fans feared the worst.
The serious nature of the charges led many to believe that Cabrera was going to miss the start of the season due to possible jail time or suspension.
Instead, Tigers management has decided not to discipline Cabrera and for the most part, and turn a blind eye to the entire situation.
Almost immediately, manager Jim Leyland came to the defense of Cabrera and made it clear that the team would welcome back Cabrera with open arms. Teammates also were quick to say that while disappointed, they were excited to get him to spring training.
This is both disgusting and shameful. Cabrera’s actions have been completely ignored and treated as if he merely got a speeding ticket.
Cabrera was found by police two hours from his home, sitting in his smoking vehicle swigging scotch on the side of the road. This sort of behavior cannot be excused and, more importantly, cannot be left in the on-deck circle until the end of the season.
The Tigers needed to send a message to Cabrera that until his off-field issues are settled, he would not be accepted into the clubhouse.
His drinking problem, and it is clearly a problem at this point, has caused distractions for himself and his teammates twice in the last 17 months.
Fans certainly remember his October 2009 arrest that occurred during the team’s playoff push. After a night of partying (with members of the opposing team), Cabrera was arrested for domestic violence against his wife.
His actions then let the team down and he vowed to not let it happen again. Now, as the Tigers prepare for a new season, he has once again struck out, this time before the season begins.
Management clearly knows they cannot contend for a playoff spot without Cabrera. And that is exactly why they need to punish him. Cabrera needed to learn the lesson that he is not above the law or above the rest of his teammates. He should have to deal with consequences of letting his team down again.
To keep him on the field is a lose-lose situation. If he performs well, it feeds into the argument that as long as he delivers, his drinking doesn’t matter. If he struggles, his issues will certainly come into question.
The man needs to get his head right and get a handle on his issues before he even thinks of stepping into the batter’s box again.
Cabrera needs to deal with this issue now, no matter how long it takes to get his mind straight. The man clearly needs help, and baseball aside, that should be his first priority.
He is only 27 years old, with a long career ahead of him. But more importantly, he is a father and a husband and that should take precedent over baseball.
And shame on Cabrera, the Tigers and their fans if they think that baseball is more important than his health and family.
Tigers looking to roar in new decade
The last week of spring training is crucial for how the regular season will unfold for the Detroit Tigers. Big holes still need to be filled, and a few spots are still left on the roster for young players to make the big-league roster.
As the final cut-day inches closer, players sweat out over finding a red card (not making the team) as shown in the movie “Major League.” While the 25-man roster and some pitching problems are up in the air, other players are starting to know their roles.
Barring some major surprises, here’s what the lineup could look like when the Tigers finally play meaningful games next week:
|Projected batting order||Pos. |
The Tigers finished with the fourth-worst batting average in the American League in 2009. Dave Dombroski went out this off-season trying to get improve the stagnant offense.
Replacing Curtis Granderson and Placido Polanco won’t be an easy transition but young gun Jackson seems up to the challenge. Jackson is hitting at eye-popping .375 with three triples and a bomb.
The acquisition of Damon will give the top of the lineup another player who will get on base like Jackson. Too many times last year, Ordonez, Cabrera and Guillen came up with the bases empty.
Damon and Jackson will both find their way on the bases, giving the big bats opportunities to rack up RBI’s.
On the mound, the Tigers are also a work in progress. By far the Tigers biggest question entering the season is how the starting rotation will pan out. With only a week left before Opening Day, even Jim Leyland doesn’t know who will step up and follow Justin Verlander, Rick Porcello and Max Scherzer.
Surprisingly, Dontrelle Willis is the one who has been most impressive during his outings in Lakeland. Although he should, with his mammoth contract. But who really expected him to have the second best ERA in camp by a starter? Nate Robertson also proved the lefty can still get outs with a 3.68 ERA.
Jeremy Bonderman and Armando Galarraga have ERA’s ballooning over nine in spring training. If that continues, manager Jim Leyland will start going through three packs of smokes a day instead of two.
Detroit will desperately need Scherzer to step in to fill Edwin Jackson’s shoes. Jackson was an All-Star last year in Detroit before he was traded this winter.
Here’s what Leland is hoping for a starting rotation as the season is set to begin:
When training camp opened, the bullpen had the biggest holes, but Joel Zumaya re-emerged with Bobby Seay and newcomer Phil Coke to give the appearance that the set-up crew could become the strength of the teams in the late innings before Jose Valverde comes in to close.
It’ll be a transition for Valverde who’s coming from the National League, but he hasn’t allowed a run yet this spring. He’ll try to carry the momentum to the regular season.
Obviously, Zumaya will need to focus on his health. But Seay is a proven left-handed specialist. Perry has shown his potential with his dominant fastball and slider. His only fault last year was control, and this spring he has only walked one batter.
The bullpen will need another arm or two that could incude southpaw Fu-Te Ni or one of the starters who couldn’t make the rotation.
For now, the only sure bets to make the bullpen are:
|Bobby Seay ||LHR|
Leyland and general manager Dave Dombroski both need to figure out what the last tweaks of the roster will be. Besides utility man Ryan Raburn, outfielder Clete Thomas, infielder Ramon Santiago and catcher Alex Avila, who’ll be the reserves? Who’ll get the last few bullpen spots? Most importantly who has earned the fourth and fifth spots in the starting rotation?
Many questions remain, with only one week left to reveal the answers.
Unforgettable trip to spring training a distant memory
Warm Florida sun shines down through palm trees as you’re enjoying Detroit Tigers baseball. There’s something about seeing the boys with the Olde English D on their caps, eating some seeds, catching a sun tan and enjoying watching some major-league baseball players tune up in preparation for a long, enjoyable summer at Comerica Park.
There’s something about spring training baseball.
Two years ago, I blew off a week of my senior year in high school to go on my brother’s college Spring Break. Loving the game of baseball, we went to Lakeland, Fla. to watch our Tigers. Leaving at midnight during the middle of a snowstorm maybe wasn’t our best decision, but we did. After doing a 360 on Southbound US-23 — thanks, black ice — it dawned on us that we had forgotten the tickets we had bought online. About 20 minutes into our trip, we turned around.
Our fabulous mother met us halfway with the tickets in the middle of the night, even though she had to work the next day. That also meant she saw for herself how bad the roads were – but after some pleading and fast-talking, promising we’d get there and back in one piece, she let us go.
And after about 20 hours of driving, we escaped the Michigan winter and entered the world of palm trees, orange juice and sunshine. Staying in a cheap hotel, my brother Brad and I were ready for some Tiger baseball, and we weren’t the only ones. Thousands of fellow snowbirds came south to see them, too. It was like being in Michigan with all the Tigers following.
Brad and I finally made it to Joker Marchant Stadium, winter home of the Detroit Tigers.
We saw Miguel Cabrera’s first at-bat as a Detroit Tiger and Todd Jones throwing in what would be his last spring training. This kind of baseball was unlike any game I’d ever been to, including the Mud Hens. Pitchers would get done throwing and run around the warning track — in the middle of the game!
We even helped Jacque Jones warm up in left field before an inning, throwing back and forth over the fence. Before the game, we found ourselves running into Tigers General Manager Dave Dombroski. After games, we ran into Curtis Granderson. During games, we could play catch just beyond the outfield in the grass.
Although most of the trip we had to be frugal, dining from fast-food menus, when we splurged we did it right. Unable to find a Buffalo Wild Wings in a 30-mile radius, we stumbled into Hooters across the street. When we sat down for some wings, Tigers closer Fernando Rodney noticed our apparel and said hi.
After taking pictures and telling him he has to be healthy for Opening Day, Rodney began to make fun of two drunks about to fight. Who would have thought? Rodney sipping on wine at Hooters and cutting it up with us about some drunks.
After watching the Tigers play two meaningless games (though memorable for us), we went on to visit family (and free beds) for the rest of the week-long trip.
We got an autographed baseball, but that was worn out from playing catch before we even got back to Michigan. We didn’t care about a signature on a baseball, but getting time to meet some of our Tigers and enjoying a couple days of Michigan-like summer in the middle of a Florida winter was priceless.
Today, I look back clothed in jealousy of that trip. Now, strapped for cash and stressed with college and work, I’ll be lucky to even visit my brother, Brad, during Spring Break. He’s living in Virginia now.
For a few days, we had lived like kings playing catch with Tigers, eating and laughing with them. Right now, I’d settle for just playing catch with my brother and sharing some of our memories of our amazing trip.