TORONTO – Who knows what would’ve happened if Melky Cabrera hadn’t been suspended for testosterone use on Aug. 15?
It’s not a question that comes up too often. The Giants won the World Series without Cabrera, after all. They subtracted the guy who was leading the majors in hits and runs, and on his way to the NL batting crown, and it almost seemed to forge the clubhouse together rather than tear it apart.
Cabrera wasn’t a part of the Giants’ playoff run, even from afar. The club turned down the chance to incorporate him after the NL Division Series, when his suspension had been served. He became a pariah for the way he slinked off rather than face his teammates and apologize.
Yet Cabrera will receive his World Series ring in the next day or two. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has Cabrera’s ring and will personally present it to him after the clubs arrives at Roger Centre for a two-game interleague series with Cabrera’s new team, the Toronto Blue Jays.
[REWIND: Does Melky deserve a World Series ring?]
Bochy did the same thing last month when he saw Nate Schierholtz at Wrigley Field. The difference: Schierholtz left in a trade for Hunter Pence, while Cabrera left amid much different circumstances.
“He was still a part of our team and he did a lot to help us get where we did,” Bochy said.
Without a doubt, it will gall some people that Cabrera will get a ring after being exposed as a drug cheat – just as many people were upset that Cabrera received a two-year, $16 million deal from the Blue Jays. He kept the Camaro he won for being All-Star MVP, too – even though the league already knew of his failed test at the time and his suspension hadn’t been announced because he was going through the appeals process.
(There’s a whole story to be told about that, too.)
Some in the Giants clubhouse aren't so willing to forgive Cabrera. But others will, and they’re looking forward to seeing him.
“I know he’s expecting to see some of the guys,” Blanco said. “He did a lot for the team last year even though he disappointed a lot of people, including his teammates. But you make mistakes in life. He took that as a lesson and he’s looking forward now.”
Just as they did last year, the Giants offense has done well to move on without Cabrera.
Remember, a year ago, his May was one of the greatest months in franchise history. He rapped out an amazing 51 hits while hitting. 429. He had seven doubles, five triples and three homers among them, too. In a May 27 game against Miami, Cabrera outhit all of his Giants teammates, four to three.
The Giants aren’t getting nearly as much production out of left field this year, where Blanco and Andres Torres are platooning. They’ve only gotten one home run from left field all season, and their .646 OPS is 25th among the 30 major league clubs.
How about this, though: One of those five clubs with even less production in left field is Toronto, where Cabrera has started all year. He’s hitting just .261 (which still leads all of the Blue Jays’ qualified hitters) and he finally hit his first home run of the year the other day.
His teammates jokingly gave him the ol’ “silent treatment” in the dugout.
The Giants probably won’t give Cabrera the silent treatment for the rest of his life. It’s hard to hold firm grudges when you win a World Series.
But to revisit that what-if for a moment…
Cabrera had 159 hits through 117 games when he was suspended. He was on a pace for 236. That would’ve been the most by a Giant since Bill Terry in 1930, and it would have crushed the San Francisco-era record of 208 set by Willie Mays in 1958.
They were numbers that Cabrera would have generated through an illegal advantage. But they wouldn’t have been wiped out.
Barry Bonds’ home runs still stand, after all.