October 05, 2009
Actually, if I were Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski, I'd go one further and tell the first baseman his services won't be needed for the rest of the season. Yes, even if the Tigers beat the Twins and advance to play the Yankees.
Pulling a Milton Bradley(notes) on the Tigers' best positional player and franchise cornerstone might seem drastic, but the truth is that Cabrera's actions over the weekend rank much, much worse than badmouthing one's own team through the media. Detroit needs to send a message that Cabrera's decisions simply aren't tolerable, no matter how much money he makes (eight years, $153 million) or what type of numbers he put up during the regular season.
By reportedly heading out for a night of drinking with the opposing White Sox on Friday night before returning home early Saturday morning and getting into a domestic dispute with his wife, Cabrera abandoned both his team and fans in some of the worst ways possible.
How can anyone trust or root for him after he blew a Breathalyzer test (.26) that was double the number of hours remaining until a Saturday night game that could have prevented the need for the Twins showdown? (The Tigers lost, 5-1.) How can Dombrowski continue to play a player he had to pick up from the police station that morning?
The answers are 1) no one can and 2) he shouldn't. Opponents will argue that taking Cabrera's bat out of Detroit's lineup will only punish everyone further, but there's no guarantee that Cabrera will produce. He went 0-for-7 after showing up to Comerica Park on Saturday with fresh scratches on his face and his mind will be a clouded and distracted one. You can throw out season totals when a player enters a situation like this one, so let the players who were fully on board with winning a division title get the playing time.
Cabrera, of course, isn't the first baseball player to get tanked the night before a game or to fraternize with the opposing side. Both likely happened thousands of times this season.
But it should go without saying that Cabrera's misstep is monumentally magnified because of the circumstances, which is why Detroit should take decisive action.
If he needs help for a problem with alcohol? Go out and get it for him. If he or his wife have anger or relationship issues? Make sure that they get the counseling they need.
Still, Cabrera should be watching the rest of the year from the sidelines. There's no defense for him ditching his team and fans, especially on a weekend when they needed him most.