A couple weeks ago, a local sports radio talk show host made a blanket statement about Miguel Cabrera and his recent injury history.
He made the same type of statement a couple of years ago when Justin Verlander was going through his trials before his unforeseen resurgence and return to being the ace of the Tigers starting staff.
Callers were, in general, understanding of Miggy’s down year this season as he was plagued by several injuries, including his back which was injured in the spring (not to mention the family issues in Venezuela).
The response by the ‘not to be named’ host? (Paraphrased) – This is who Miggy is. He’s hurt. He’s always hurt and he will always be hurt.
I was beyond incensed by the statement, which immediately brought to mind the same type synopsis from the same radio host about Verlander when he inferred – this is who JV is now, a couple good starts, a couple bad starts, but the dominance is over.
We all know what happened shortly after; JV turned it all around and the dominance had returned. It was totally unexpected.
There is a parallel between these 2 situations. But until one very important transaction takes place with the Tigers, Miggy will have the tougher road to return to dominance.
The difference? Miggy will need more help. And it’s help he is not getting with VMart constantly in the lineup.
Victor Martinez has been a great Tiger. Signing him to a new 4-year contract seemed like the absolute right thing to do at the time. But, in the wonderful world of hindsight, it is now proving, this year especially, that the continued presence of VMart in Detroit is breaking down Miguel Cabrera.
VMart, forever known as the protection for Miggy in the Tiger lineup, is finally out of that role, and is far from protecting anyone. Until that contract expires and the Tigers can set him free, they continue to risk the health of their most important player; the face of the franchise, the straw that stirs the drink, the heart and soul. Heard enough?
Anyway, given his importance to the success of this team, what have the Tigers done to help him? Has Miguel been hurt a lot over the years? Absolutely. Has it hurt the Tigers and their run for titles? You bet. Would he have been hurt less if he could DH more? We don’t know. But he would certainly have a better shot don’t you think?
In November of last year, I wrote a blog about Victor Martinez. And it can definitely serve as the prequel to this discussion.
It’s anyone’s guess what the Tigers will look like after this season. It’s anyone’s guess if the Tigers will be at the beginning of a complete overhaul or not. But the team, in the last year of VMart’s contract has to do a better job of protecting ‘The Franchise.’
A transition needs to begin next season, where Miggy DH’s, and DH’s a lot. I don’t care how much the $18 million dollar man has to sit. Cabrera is going to be around for a long time and the more first base he plays, the closer he gets to being the next VMart, where he will be nothing more than a hitter, unable to spell anyone by picking up a glove.
Miggy is an absolutely gifted hitter headed for the Hall of Fame when his time is done. He has the ability to return to that dominant hitter we have grown used to seeing, year after year after year.
But to do that, the Tigers need to recognize this season as a warning sign. Next year they need to help Miggy. They have to decide if it’s more important to preserve their best hitter for years to come or justify VMart’s $18M by continuing to pencil him into the lineup.
Every. Single. Day.