Miguel Cabrera spoke with MLB.com’s Jason Beck about what has been perhaps his most difficult season as a member of the Tigers. Despite great personal success — Cabrera is hitting .335/.438/.540 even after 20 straight hitless at-bats — Cabrera hasn’t experienced a losing season since his first as a Tiger in 2008. The two-time AL MVP told Beck that had everyone been healthy from Opening Day, he feels the talent was there to make a postseason run, but injuries led to the tough decisions to have to trade David Price, Yoenis Cespedes and Joakim Soria. Those same injuries (to himself, Victor Martinez, Justin Verlander, Anibal Sanchez and others) led Cabrera to defend manager Brad Ausmus. “…[I]t’s not his fault,” said Cabrera. “…Why do people say you’ve got to fire him? … I always say, man, if we’re healthy, we can push harder. But this year, we got a lot of key players out for one month, two months. With that, there’s no way you’re going to win, because we need everybody here. It’s not about one player.”
More from the AL Central to kick off Friday morning…
- On a similar note, White Sox outfielder Melky Cabrera praised skipper Robin Ventura when speaking to MLB.com’s Scott Merkin. “I found what I expected here,” said Cabrera, who has enjoyed his first season in spite of the team’s losing record. “I think that Robin is a great manager. I like to play for him. We have the core players that we can compete in the future.” Cabrera and Ventura both spoke about the slow starts for a number of White Sox players (Cabrera included) and the difficulty in overcoming the early hole dug by those struggles. Cabrera, Adam Eaton, Alexei Ramirez and Adam LaRoche all struggled a great deal early on. Eaton came to life in early May, whereas Cabrera turned it on in June and Ramirez has been hitting quite well since July 1. LaRoche, on the other hand, has seen his struggles continue all season.
- Did the Indians wait too long to promote Francisco Lindor this season? Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer examines the question from both sides, noting that there was a case to be made for Lindor to break camp with the club and one that says it made both business and baseball sense for the team to keep him in Triple-A until mid-June. The Indians gained an extra year of club control and likely prevented Lindor from reaching Super Two designation by keeping him at Triple-A until June 14, though as Hoynes notes, the four-game gap they’re facing in the Wild Card standings may well have been smaller with a full season of the potential Rookie of the Year winner. (From my vantage point — Lindor didn’t hit much at Triple-A in 2014 and started the 2015 season quite slowly in Triple-A as well. Had he come firing out of the gates, there would’ve been a definite case to bring him up late April, but he didn’t begin hitting until late May anyhow.)
- Even Twins GM Terry Ryan admitted to being surprised by just how impressive Miguel Sano has been at the plate since his promotion, he said in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (audio link). Ryan noted that Sano looked “rusty” early in the season in his first action back from Tommy John surgery that sidelined him for all of 2014. “He really struggled in the first month of April down there, and his at-bats were not good,” said Ryan. “…When he came up here in July, he was putting tremendous, quality, professional at-bats together. He wasn’t chasing, and when he got a strike, he did something with it. And he’s given us that power presence in the middle of the lineup that we desperately needed.”
- Host Todd Hollandsworth also asked Ryan about the progression of Aaron Hicks, noting that the Twins deserve some praise for sticking with the former first-round pick through his early struggles in his career. Said Ryan of Hicks: “He reminds me a lot of Torii Hunter back in the day, when Torii struggled through the system in the minor leagues and came up and went back a couple times, then finally solidified himself as a great player.” Hicks’ breakout hasn’t garnered the attention of Sano’s performance, but the 25-year-old is hitting .262/.323/.412 with 11 homers, 12 steals and strong outfield defense after a batting a woeful .201/.293/.314 from 2013-14.