I’m not sure which is the biggest shock as far as Miguel Cabrera is concerned: (1) that he was a shortstop for the first two years of his pro career in the Marlins system; (2) that in his three full minor league seasons he never hit more than .274 or more than nine home runs; or (3) that he had only eight 2013 home runs coming into last night’s game, tied with Raul Ibanez and Yuniesky Betancourt, among others, and trailing John Buck and Wilin Rosario.
For me, only Barry Bonds and Albert Pujols keep Cabrera company on the short list of the greatest hitters of the last two generations.
I dumped 65 tweets during Texas 11, Detroit 8, among which was this one that I’m not backing off of:
“I shouldn’t want to, given his age and defensive fit, but whatever it would take to get Giancarlo Stanton, I’d give up for Miguel Cabrera.”
Last night, Cabrera was evidently the 23rd player in MLB history to fill a day’s box score with at least four hits, three home runs, five RBI, and four runs scored, but in the last 80 years, the only other to do so in a loss was Bob Horner, a July 6, 1986 game in which the Braves fell to the Expos by the familiar score of 11-8.
Another thing that happened on July 6, 1986 was a 5-2 Texas loss to Detroit, completely ordinary except for the fact that it would be the last day on which the Rangers would lead the AL West until three years later.
Different story these days, as Texas has now occupied the top spot in the division 209 of 231 days since the 2012 season began, and 524 of 564 if you want to dial back to May 2, 2010.
I don’t pick that date arbitrarily, as it was the day the Rangers sat alone atop the West for the first time in the 2010 season, which ended with Texas in the World Series.
The Rangers beat Seattle, 3-1, that May 2, 2010 afternoon.
The Mariners’ starting pitcher was Doug Fister.
Tonight’s starting pitcher, for Texas, will be Josh Lindblom. His last start before 2013 was also in May 2010, when his AAA Albuquerque ERA ballooned to 7.06, prompting a shift to the Isotopes’ bullpen. That was five years after he was drafted by the Astros in the third round but didn’t sign, three years after the Angels drafted Matt Harvey in the third round but didn’t sign him (sorry for getting off-topic; no I’m not), two years after Lindblom was drafted by the Dodgers and fast-tracked, one year before Lindblom’s big league debut, two years before he was traded to the Phillies as part of a package for Shane Victorino, and two-and-a-half years before Philadelphia sent him to Texas in the Michael Young trade.
In every one of Lindblom’s seven starts for AAA Round Rock this year (4-0, 2.23 [2.08 ERA overall]), Jurickson Profar started behind him, six times at shortstop and the last time at second base. He’ll start at second behind Lindblom again tonight, and in this paragraph there are two reasons I’m really looking forward to tonight’s game, a third of which might be that Miguel Cabrera will be out of town.
Lindblom was a middle reliever in whom Texas saw a starting pitcher. Going back the last time through the rotation, though, you see that the Rangers’ starters came from Oakland’s minor league outfield (Alexi Ogando), Japan (Yu Darvish), Day Two of the 2010 draft (Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm), and the 25th round (Derek Holland).
The Texas Rangers are very good at talent accumulation.
Their scouting soldiers and generals are going start holing up in Arlington soon, if they haven’t already, synthesizing and tuning up plans for this year’s draft, when there’s no reason for us not to be confident that they’ll add another Lewis Brinson or Joey Gallo, find another C.J. Edwards in the late rounds, swipe another high-end shortstop or two since someone’s going to be traded before long, or grab a toolsy catcher to start dreaming on.
Maybe “and” rather than “or.”
And maybe, a couple years from now, when I’m going to allow myself to hope that Cleveland is still pretty good, and that the Royals were able to move their rise forward, joined by the Twins behind Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton and whoever they get for Josh Willingham, Detroit will decide it’s time to re-core things and move 32-year-old Miguel Cabrera, just as they boldly moved Curtis Granderson to get younger four years ago, and that Texas can take some of its middle infield prospect strength, and more than that, and go get the former shortstop from Maracay, Venezuela, pair him with another shortstop from Maracay, Venezuela, and more than that, and make one of the greatest hitters I’ve ever seen a Texas Ranger during the greatest period of Texas Rangers baseball anyone has ever seen.