Miguel Cabrera is Not Going to Play Third Base

Here’s Jim Leyland’s quote when the Tigers signed Victor Martinez:

“He’s going to catch and not be a total DH. And he can play first base to give Miguel (Cabrera) a night off to DH. And this guy is one of the more professional hitters in baseball.”

Here’s what Dave Dombrowski suggested when they signed Martinez:

Dombrowski envisioned Martinez catching “two or three days a week” with Avila being the No. 1 catcher, but allowed that “circumstances will dictate” that arrangement.

Martinez caught a total of 26 games in 2011.

The above quotes were culled from this piece on MLive.com. (It took me awhile to find it.)

Now the Tigers are saying that Miguel Cabrera is going to play third base to accommodate the signing of Prince Fielder.

They’re insisting that both will be playing the field semi-regularly.

It’s offensive (defensive?) that the Tigers are consciously putting up the pretense of Cabrera moving to third base in favor of Fielder.

Do the Tigers have a born-in DH apart from Cabrera and Fielder to make it so ironclad that both players have to play defense?

Martinez is out for the season. If he manages to come back before 2013, it’ll be very late in the 2012 season, so why come up with this silly and hardheaded nonsense from manager Jim Leyland that they’re not only going to play Cabrera at third, but won’t remove him for defense late in games?

Why?

What are they trying to prove?

Is it such a big problem if Brandon Inge, Don Kelly and “Whoever with a Glove” play third and Fielder and Cabrera alternate as the DH?

If they had Martinez playing in 2012, I’d see this as being at least viable that they’re going to try to play Cabrera at third and see if they can get away with it, but they don’t. In fact, it was the injury to Martinez that spurred the signing of Fielder.

What’s the point other than to be contrary and not step on Cabrera’s toes by making it appear as if he’s being usurped from his position for another player?

I can guarantee you this: if Cabrera shows up as heavy as he was last season and Leyland sees that Cabrera is a statue, he’s not going to play him at third.

He’s probably not going to play him at third anyway.

Here’s what’s going to happen: Cabrera will play a few games at third base, but they’ll be around the same number of games that the “catcher” they acquired before 2011—Martinez—played behind the plate. That number, again, was 26. Other than that, he and Fielder will DH.

Then, after the season, they’ll look to trade Martinez.

Miguel Cabrera is not going to be the Tigers everyday third baseman.

I just can’t decide what’s dumber: believing it or saying it to begin with.

It’s probably a tie.

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  1. #1 by Birdy on March 6, 2012 - 2:36 pm

    Well, I think believing it is dumber. Saying it has been absolutely great for season ticket sales, so I won’t call that dumb. Another thing in Leyland’s defense, he’s going to have to play somebody terrible in the field. Delmon Young might be just as bad, although LF is not as important as 3B.

    I’m not sure I like the Cabrera/Martinez comparison much. Martinez was a good catcher who didn’t throw a lot of runners out. That can be minimized. Cabrera has range and agility issues that can really hurt the club. Nothing can be done to minimize that.

    Martinez had leg issues the last couple months of the season, and Leyland rightly refused to catch him to make sure his bat stayed in the lineup. It took it’s toll on Avila’s legs though. Had Martinez been healthy he would have caught a few more games. I don’t know, 35-40? That’s the low end of 2-3 times per week. If we’re expecting a similar injury problem to keep Cabrera out of the 3B position, then he should be the one they look to trade, not Martinez. They can get a decent return for Cabrera, not have pay any of his salary while playing for another team, and avoid having to give the overweight Venezuelan a second long term contract that would cover his “I’m-injured-all-the-time” years.

    • #2 by admin on March 6, 2012 - 3:06 pm

      Whether or not Martinez would’ve been any good behind the plate is secondary. I’m just going by what Leyland said. In fact, it was the smart move to DH Martinez and play Avila.
      You can’t go wrong with both bats in the lineup, but this insistence to play Cabrera at third can’t even be categorized as stupid. Stupid would be not knowing it’s a bad idea. In a way, this is worse because Leyland knows it’s not going to work and is doing it anyway.
      That even Fielder and Cabrera know that sharing first base/DH would be the better team decision makes it exponentially worse.
      I still believe that in the end, Leyland will look at Cabrera at third and say, “this won’t work” and figure something else out.
      I believe it.
      But I also believe in Hanukkah Harry, Santa Claus and I’m a Mets fan, so take that for what it’s worth.

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