OK, Miguel Cabrera Is Now A Problem
It's hard to believe that future Hall of Famer Miguel Cabrera (pictured) was hitting .308 as recently as early July. That was good enough to be in top 10 in the American League batting race at that time.
It's also equally hard to believe that he has stunk so badly at the plate that his batting average has dropped from .308 down to .263 (as of the morning of August 16th).
I have said repeatedly throughout this failure of a season for the Detroit Tigers that Miggy was the least of the Tigers problems. And while he's still not the biggest problem, IMO....
He is now a problem...a big problem. Here's why:
HIS BAD KNEE
Cabrera has talked about his bad right knee for years. It's never been publicized what specifically is wrong with the knee (Ligament tear? Cartilage?). But it is really hindering him at this stage of the season and his career. He can barely run at all.
HIS LACK OF HUSTLE
The Tigers can't be happy that he doesn't run out ground balls (he's hit a lot of them this year). What especially ticked off fans and media was when he didn't run hard out of the gate last Friday night against the Chicago White Sox.
The Tigers were down 2-0 with two outs and a runner on first. Cabrera was at the plate and hit a ground ball up the middle that the shortstop booted. The ball bounced/rolled to the second baseman nearby and he threw out Miguel by a step. A replay showed that he might have beaten the throw out had he run hard out of the batter's box (which he didn't).
A lack of hustle is unacceptable in my book. We all know he's hurt, we can see that. But to run as hard as you can (even that would be pretty slow) is part of the job description. He has failed the team on many occasions in this regard.
We all know his contract status. He's owed about $8 million for the rest of this season. He's owed $32 million for next season, the last guaranteed year of his contract. He has two vesting options for 2024 & 2025 worth $30 million each. According to legacy.baseballprospectus.com, those options vest if Miguel finishes in the top 10 of the American League Most Valuable Player voting (a virtual certainty that won't happen). But Miggy will still get $8 million in 2024 if he doesn't make his 2024 option. That's the buyout money for it.
WILL HE RETURN IN 2023?
Something that was a certainty two months ago is now up in the air. More and more media believe that the Tigers will buy him out. But Cabrera, after originally saying he was unsure of returning, said later that he will return for the final year of his contract and then retire.
The Tigers, at least, need to have a discussion with him about next season. The negatives are now outweighing the positives all the way around. It's too bad that a historic career could end this way.