Urban: Cabrera deal says Giants mean business

Urban: Cabrera deal says Giants mean business
July 31, 2011, 4:54 am
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July 30, 2011


Mychael Urban

Say this about Brian Sabean: Hes a man of his word. And then some.A little more than a week ago, during one of his impromptu session with the local press, Sabean verbally spat on the notion that the Giants as currently constructed werent good enough for the club to get where it intended to go. The intended ultimate destination, of course, is right back to Market Street, early November, for another delirious, intoxicating parade.Everyone and their dental hygienist knew that Sabean was going to do his damndest to land Carlos Beltran, but the Giants GM made it clear that in his eyes, Beltran alone wouldnt suffice. He was going to go big, as long as the market allowed him to do so.It has. Since that proclamation, Sabean has backed up his words with action -- the best and only way to engender faith among fans. Talk really is cheap. Acquiring proven, championship-quality talent is not.As such, three very good minor-league arms and a popular outfield prospect with considerable upside are gone. In their stead are starting second baseman Jeff Keppinger, who cost two arms; starting right fielder Beltran, who cost the biggest arm; and now starting shortstop Orlando Cabrera, who came at the cost of Thomas Neal, a gregarious and gifted young man who appeared to be ticketed for left field at AT&T Park sometime in the fairly near future until Saturdays somewhat stunning swap with the Indians.
NEWS: Giants acquire Orlando Cabrera from Indians
Thats exactly the kind of makeover that Sabean alluded was required, and dont be surprised if he makes another move -- the ad reads Championship GM Seeks Catcher With Brains Behind Plate, Brawn In Batters Box -- before Sundays non-waiver trade deadline. Or shortly thereafter; the deadline is a bit overblown that way.Why Cabrera? What does he bring? The first answer is easy: Miguel Tejada didnt work, and Cabrera was the best shortstop available. Emphasis, shortstop.Unlike the Keppinger and Beltran deals, and the deal for a catcher should it materialize, adding Cabrera was not about upgrading the offense. His numbers across the board are nearly identical to those of Tejada, who, quite frankly, is the better and more dangerous hitter between the two.This deal was about getting better up the middle defensively; Cabrera, 36, is only a year younger than Tejada, but hes maintained his range in his old age far better than Tejada, whose timetable for return from his strained abdominal muscle is far from clear.Dont think the lack of news about Freddy Sanchez doesnt factor here, either. Its been said in this space since his shoulder exploded: surgery is the only fix. Rehab is a band-aid all too easy and painful to rip off.So thats part of what Cabrera brings: a better glove than Tejada -- and a better bat than Brandon Crawford, whose roster spot would now appear to be in question given that Giants manager Bruce Bochy recently expressed reluctance to use a rookie as a late-game defensive replacement.What else does Cabrera bring? Class and clout, as evidenced by his short stint with the As, for whom he became a legitimate leader, and by his four playoff appearances in the past four years with four different teams.Thanks to Sabean, who deserves high praise for walking the talk, Cabrera -- and all Giants fans -- should be feeling awfully good about making it 5-for-5.