Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rational vs. Emotional

At times, the two sides of one's brain conflict when contemplating a certain decision. In marketing, there's a great debate over whether customers are more likely to stick with the company that offers the lowest prices (rational) or the company that forms a deeper long-term connection by offering stronger customer service (emotional). For the record, things seem to be shifting in the latter direction.

Which, oddly enough, brings me to Orlando Cabrera. He's an impending free agent whom the Twins will need to make a decision on in the near future. The rational side of my brain tells me there's no way he should be brought back. He'll turn 35 in less than two weeks. He's shown clear signs of decline defensively (the former Gold Glover posted a horrendous -9.9 UZR this season and earned the nickname "Cabrerror" by committing 11 errors in 57 games with the Twins).. And his .313 on-base percentage was a major liability in the No. 2 hole, where Ron Gardenhire seems fully committed to playing the shortstop whenever he's in the lineup.


These are all major red flags for anyone looking at the game with an analytical mindset. Yet, there's something deep inside me that -- for whatever reason -- likes having Cabrera on this team. While I fully believe that the notions of clubhouse chemistry and clutchness and veteran leadership are overrated to a degree, it's not so easy to downplay the positive impact that Cabrera had on the team after being acquired at the trade deadline. Coaches praised his attitude, teammates credited him with helping them become more comfortable, and fans embraced his gritty play and determination. Even though he encompasses a number of qualities I dislike in a ballplayer -- namely, playing poor defense at an important position and failing to reach base at an adequate rate while batting at the top of the lineup -- I can't deny that I enjoyed watching Cabrera play. It also didn't hurt to finally get some power from a middle-infield spot; Cabrera slugged .430 while with the Twins, which certainly stands out for a club that hasn't received a slugging percentage over .400 from the shortstop position since 2001.

Ultimately, I caved in to the rational side of my brain and opined that the Twins should let Cabrera walk this offseason. But I can't say I'd be all that furious if the Twins let their emotional side win out and bring him back on a one-year deal.

10 comments:

David said...

A buddy of mine is a big Cabrera backer, and offers loads of cliches - Cabrera's a "gamer", he's "clutch", he's a Twins-type player. While this kind of reasoning bugs me, it at least has some bearing in reality. According to FanGraphs, Cabrera has a career "clutch" rating of 3.13, which is pretty high. This is due largely to a monster year in 2001, where he posted a 2.52 clutch rating. It's worth noting though, that since the beginning of 2001, Cabrera has posted positive clutch scores 7 times, and negative scores only 2 times. The notion that he brings his game to another level in big spots might have some objective merit to it.

That said, I think the declining defense and awful OBP are major liabilities. I'd be ok bringing Cabrera back on the condition that the Twins improve at third or second - something along the lines of Chone Figgins (major pipe dream, I know) or Placido Polanco. Or, if the Hardy trade happens, move Cabrera to second. Having Cabrera's big-game presence is a nice perk for a team with a strong infield, but to me, his liabilities would outweigh the benefits if he's not surrounded by better infield players to compensate for his weaknesses. Oh, and no more 2-hole. It has to stop.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, Nick. I basically agree. I liked him and I think the grass at Target Field will make his defense a touch better than on the fast turf of the dome.

Paul said...

Very nice post, you very effectively voice my basic feelings here.

David said...

Your shortstop should be the best infielder on the team. Watching Cabrera play shortstop makes me wish for Harris, which is not a good feeling.

Ryan said...

I wouldn't be overly opposed to one year, as bad as he was in the field most of the time. The problem is, O-Cab is going to get 2 or 3 years from some foolish team, and I don't want that to be the Twins.

Anonymous said...

not polanco! please not polanco. i can't stand to look at his roid-mushroom-head.

Lisa said...

I agree with you. Think you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. The way to answer it is how would you feel if he was playing for the opposition? Would his presence in their lineup worry you?

Anonymous said...

Two opinions here:

Cabrera's defense could improve on the grass at Target Field. Then, again, it could be even worse. Cabrera is a player who brought a lot of spunk to this team, which is what it needed I believe. Should he be re-signed just based on spunk? No.

If we do consider re-signing Cabrera, and I have mixed feelings about this too, how would the signing of Cabrera affect the Twins chances of getting Hardy? In other words, if you had a chance to get either, who would you rather have - Cabrera or Hardy? I would have to go with Hardy.

garrett said...

Can Cabrera slide over to third...until Valencia shows up?

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