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Can someone explain the appeal of Orlando Cabrera to me?

No, I get that Crosby's bad, I do, I certainly understood (and supported) the desire to replace him with Furcal. For the price the Dodgers got him for, I can also certainly see why we passed, assuming we were ever a serious consideration for Furcal in the first place. But once Furcal was taken off the board, it seems like a large segment of the population of AN decided that Cabrera was the next choice, and the reasoning for that eludes me.

Crosby doesn't hit well, that's established, but Cabrera's BEST season with the bat was 2003 in Montreal, when he hit .297/.347/.460, and that was pretty clearly a career year. His second best year was 2001, with a line of .276/.324/.428. Does the phrase "his best days are behind him" seem appropriate? Since 2003, the highest single-season OPS he's had was .742. Last year he had a .705 OPS in one of the better hitter's parks in the American League.

What about his defense, you say? Well true, UZR had Cabrera as 14.2 runs above average at shortstop last year, which combined with the marginal improvement over Crosby in hitting would account for 2-2.5 wins of improvement, but IF and only IF his defense stayed at exactly that level. Is that a guarantee? Not remotely. Here Cabrera's UZR ratings over the past 7 years:

  • 2002: 1.4
  • 2003: 6.4
  • 2004: -1.5
  • 2005: 24.6
  • 2006: -1.6
  • 2007: 9.7
  • 2008: 14.2

In every one of those seasons, Cabrera played at least 141 games at short. Over this span he's averaged 7.6 runs above average, and the plain fact is that at age 34, he's going to be older and probably slower than he was in all of those seasons. Even if there's no drop-off due to age (not at all a guarantee), it's more likely to expect 1 win of improvement out of Cabrera's defense than 2, and it still leaves us with a hole in the batting order. Explain to me why that's worth paying millions and giving up a draft pick?

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