Tigers Baseball Outsider

a thinking fan's perspective

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cabrera Adds Yet Another If For 2011 Tigers

As Yogi Berra would have said, "It's like deja vu all over again".

You remember the story, about how in 2009, Miguel Cabrera was arrested as the Tigers played their final series of the season against the Chicago White Sox to fight off a charging Minnesota Twins from overtaking them for the American League Central division title and a berth in the play offs.

About how Miguel spent the night before a key game out drinking with members of White Sox and then returned home to only to fight with the missus and land himself in jail. About how Dave Dombrowski bailed him out and drove him home – and how Miguel played the next day so hung over that he was less effective than a mannequin on the field and at the plate that game – a key game that the Tigers lost – only to be forced to an epic game 163 against the Twins – who won and stole the 2009 AL Central title – and then lost in a sweep by the Yankees of New York in the first round of the play offs ALDS.

You know that story.

2010 season of redemption
 And you know about how contrite Cabrera was in the aftermath – and how brilliant he played last year – a career best season leaving him a close runner up for American League MVP. And you probably remember his famous quote from the middle of last season:

Drinking was a problem. Right now I feel really good. What happened last year is not gonna happen again. I feel like a new man. : It’s a beautiful life right now.

And you, like me, completely forgot about the 2009 debacle – and were so very proud of Miggy for getting his life back in order and demonstrating to the world just how truly great a ball player he was.

2011 Mug shot
 And then today you most certainly have heard the news … from a small town in Florida .. St. Lucy … about his arrest for DUI and non-violently  resistance of arrest. About how he took a swig from a bottle of scotch while asking the officer “Don’t you know who I am?”.

And like me, if you’re a Tigers fan who had forgiven Cabrera for his earlier failure at such a critical time, your heart probably sank in your throat.

Position players have not even thrown a ball yet.

And thoughts of tossing what hoped to be a contending season for the AL Central title seemed to evaporate like Windex on a summer hot windshield.

Well, that was the first thought I had, but I think I overreacted.

The latest news from minutes ago was that Miggy indeed was going to be at the Lakeland diamond Saturday after all – practice duds on – batting glove and first baseman mitt in hand – ready to start 2011.

But who knows.

Some are already calling for his trade – or his release. I’m not.

But he did – in my personal opinion – erase all of his hard work from last summer – all the great numbers he posted – and more importantly all of the faith and trust of Tiger fans he worked so hard to regain.

And now he is reduced to another if in the Tigers 2011 pre-season speculation.

Who will start at second base?

Who will win the fourth and fifth starting rotation spots?

Who will earn the everyday catching position?

How will the Tigers shore up their defense down the middle?

Who will bat second in the line up?

Will Scherzer and Porcello start 2011 as hot as they ended 2010?

Which Brenan Boesch will show up – the amazing homer king of the first half of the season or the house by the side of the road Boesch of the last half of 2010?

How long can Carlos Guillen play before being put on the Disable List?

Will Maglio Ordonez be the Same Maggs of greatness of years gone by?

Will Ryan Raburn prove to be a solid left fielder?

Is Scott Sizemore's ankle healed and will he show us how good at second base he really is?

Can Leyland avoid the post-All Star break slump trend of his past four years?

And now – the one name that was not on that list of questions – Miguel Cabrera – may prove to be the biggest question mark of them all.

Now, let’s put this in perspective.

They did not cancel spring – the season will come and the weather will get warm.

The Tigers are not calling off the season – and still should be considered a contender for the AL Central.

And Cabrera is not going to be sold, traded, dismissed, fired, or let go. But he likely will face some suspension – and perhaps some jail time. But he will wear the old English D.

But how long will it take us to forget this digression. This set back. This backslide.

It’s not up to us. In fact we are not even a part of the equation. It’s up to Miguel. He showed us last year. Can he pull through again this year?

Carlos Guillen – a fellow Venezuelan who likely has some insight to the social circles Miggy moves in - did make an interesting comment this morning:

"Sometimes you have people around you that are not good for you. You think they're your friends, but they're not really friends."

And you know, maybe Carlos knows something. Maybe the this is the heart of the matter.

If it is – I hope Miguel can make a change.

I really hope this is all it really is.

Good luck Miguel. Your chances are running out.

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