Got Melky? Giants do, but they want no part of Cabrera now
David LennonDavid Lennon
David Lennon has been a staff writer for Newsday since
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The Giants who won the World Series two years ago included "idiots and a bunch of frat boys" in the eyes of Aubrey Huff -- who, by the way, was a member of that team himself.
This group, Huff says, is "more businesslike," relying on a different type of October chemistry to return to the Fall Classic -- but not the kind cooked up by disgraced outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was not welcomed back this month after the expiration of his 50-game suspension for testing positive for testosterone.
Usually, PED cheats do their time, staying in shape all the while, and then have the team seamlessly integrate them back into the lineup, bullpen or rotation. The Giants did it this year with Guillermo Mota despite his second drug-related suspension, this time for 100 games.
Cabrera, however, was not afforded the same chance by the Giants, who not only took the moral high road but evidently sacrificed nothing to do so. Cabrera, the All-Star Game MVP, is a big reason why the Giants are enjoying the home-field advantage for this World Series. He also led them in batting average (.346) and runs (84) at the time of his suspension.
For an offensively challenged team like the Giants, jettisoning a player of that caliber figured to be a crippling blow. Instead, they were three wins away from another World Series title before the start of Thursday night's Game 2, and unapologetic about shutting the clubhouse door to someone who already had paid his penalty.
When manager Bruce Bochy was asked why Mota is pitching for the Giants and Cabrera, arguably the team's MVP at midseason, is home watching these games on TV, he basically suggested the NL champs are better off without him.
"I think they're two different situations, really," he said. "Mota was available to help us out during the season, so we made a spot there for him. Now with Melky, we felt when that happened, as far as losing him, the club played very well, and the guys that we had been putting out there have done the job; they've earned this, and this is the way we're going to move forward.
"It would be tough for Melky to get game-ready. But more importantly, it was how we played and how the guys did out in leftfield, and they deserve to be out there for the postseason."
Reading between the lines, the Giants didn't want the distraction of having Cabrera around. The unseemly details of his positive test, along with his attempted cover-up, didn't sit well with the club, either.
In most cases, busted players will admit their wrongdoing, apologize and pledge to stay clean from that point. Cabrera took a different approach. With help from some tech-savvy friends -- his agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, have denied any involvement -- Cabrera had a phony website constructed that was meant to portray him as a misinformed consumer of a nutritional supplement. When MLB uncovered that scam, it fortified the Giants' resolve to keep their distance from him.
He became such a persona non grata around baseball that although a rules technicality would have kept him eligible to win the National League batting title, he chose to remove himself from the race. Buster Posey won it at .336, 10 points behind his teammate.
Even the Players Association had no recourse to get him his job back. In the cases of suspensions, it's up to the team's discretion how to use that player upon his return. And if the Giants wanted no part of Cabrera for the postseason, so be it.
This was a calculated risk on their part. With the World Series shifting to AL rules for the three middle games at Comerica Park, there's no question he could have been a huge help in a DH role. Even if they kept him on as a pinch hitter, he'd be a considerable upgrade from the likes of Huff and Xavier Nady.
Will the Giants be second-guessed if their offense goes cold in Detroit? Possibly. But chemistry was Cabrera's problem. Now that he's gone, it no longer is one for the Giants.