The White Sox middle infield sucks, but you know this. You guys have spent much of the season debating who is worse, Juan Uribe or Orlando Cabrera, and continue to do so today. They're not hitting --both own and OPS around .600-- and their defense on the season can be described as erratic, including last night when they looked like the double play combo for a poor high school team.
More concerning to me than the erratic play is the complete disappearance of, for lack of a better term, Cabrera's bat handling, his ability to be a tough out. When Cabrera was acquired, I tried to avoid using such axioms when describing him, but failed.
I really had to resist the urge to fill this entry with cliches such as "he's a tough out" and "adept handler of the bat," but the Cabrera of the last two seasons has been just that every time I've seen him play. He's a player I've really grown to appreciate over the past couple of seasons.
And I wasn't alone, the even more statistically minded Jeff Sullivan from Lookout Landing wrote the following.
As an Angel, Cabrera was everything that drove me insane. He always made contact, he'd fight off enough pitches to have those really long annoying at bats, he ran fast enough to beat out infield grounders, he'd hit bloopers into the outfield because he doesn't have any power, he'd make flashy plays with the glove, he beat the hell out of the Mariners, and he had that Wizard of OC nickname that made me want to water my lawn with the blood from Steve Physioc's wrists. Cabrera became the face of everything I hated about that team. For three long years, he practically took up residence under my skin.
So when Cabrera struck out on three pitches with the bases loaded last night, I thought to myself, "if he was still wearing an Angels uniform he probably would have fought that last pitch off, maybe even flared it into right field." But Cabrera's not in an Angels uniform anymore.
And this is where it becomes an issue that's bigger than Cabrera. You know where I'm going with this. I'll once again point to something I wrote when Cabrera was acquired.
Cabrera doesn't see a lot of pitches, just 3.39 per PA last season and 3.50 for his career, but he makes excellent contact (makes contact on 86% of his swings). He seems to like the ball in off the plate yet has the ability to push the ball off the outside corner into right field. (I'm sure Walker can fix that pesky habit.)
That, my friends, is coaching you can count on.