Orlando Cabrera has been a member of four different teams that have won divisional titles, including the Red Sox, Angels, Twins and Reds. He now has a chance to be part of another division winner in 2011 with his new team, the San Francisco Giants. The Giants acquired him from the Cleveland Indians on Saturday in an exchange for 23-year-old outfield prospect Thomas Neal.
Cabrera, 36, was hitting .244/.277/.321 with 13 doubles, four home runs and 38 RBIs for the Indians at the time of the deal. He started the year as the Indians’ everyday second baseman, but when he didn’t hit and his lack of range was exposed he was eventually replace by rookie Jason Kipnis. Cabrera is known as a clubhouse leader and a winning player, and he will fit in nicely in a Giants locker room full of unselfish, veteran players. With Mark DeRosa, Freddy Sanchez and Miguel Tejada all on the disabled list, the Giants had a definite need for infield help.
Earlier this week, the Giants acquired Jeff Keppinger in a trade from the Astros, but they quickly realized that wasn’t enough depth. Cabrera is expected to get playing time at both second base and shortstop for the Giants. His range is now limited, his bat is now slower and he’s a player on serious decline. However, his makeup and attitude will be a plus and he’s the type of clutch player who will win a few games for the Giants over the last two months of the season, and maybe even off the bench in the postseason.
Neal, 23, led the California League in on-base percentage in 2009 with a .337/.431/.579 slash line, a season in which he hit 41 doubles and 22 home runs and registered 90 RBIs. Last year, he was promoted to the Eastern League, where hit a respectable .291/.359/.440 with 12 home runs and 69 RBIs. This year at the Giants’ Triple-A Fresno affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, he was hitting .295/.351/.409 with 13 doubles, two home runs and 25 RBIs. He is athletic with a 6-foot-2, 230-pound frame, and he has good arm strength and raw power. He is a below-average runner but runs every ball out. He has shown that he can hit a fastball but struggles against better secondary pitches. He has the potential to be an average everyday player in the big leagues, but more realistically will settle in as a fourth or fifth outfielder.
With the emergence of Kipnis, the Indians needed to move Cabrera, and they did a good job in getting a quality extra outfield prospect back in the deal.