And We Land at Shortstop


2010 saw a change at the shortstop position…to an extent. After injures sidelined Alex Gonzalez last season, Paul Janish played a fair amount. The prevailing thought developed that Janish would be the #1 guy heading into 2010. It wasn’t to be.

Shortly before spring training, Reds GM Walt Jocketty signed free agent Orlando Cabrera. Personally, I liked the move at the time. Cabrera is known for steady defense, clubhouse leadership, excellent bat control and, most importantly, he plays on winning teams.

Let’s briefly touch on those four aspects.

Defense. Cabrera hasn’t particularly been known for toting an outstanding glove or arm, but steady. Nothing spectacular, but he does more than hold his own. Some may find it a bit hard to believe that OC had garnered two Gold Gloves (2001 and 2007). We didn’t see all the flash that some shortstops exhibit, but Cabrera did commit the second fewest errors (11) in the National League registered the third best fielding percentage (.977).

Leadership. Just what a young and developing team needed. And Cabrera isn’t one to play the role of “silent leader” either. He was one that could keep the young guys a bit on the loose side. Make things fun. We all witnessed that when OC was on the DL and played the role of ballboy during a home game.

Bat control. While Cabrera didn’t have one of his better seasons at the plate overall, we did see that he can go the other way, hit behind runners and is excellent in sacrifice situations. He had a total of 12 sacrifices in 2010 (5 bunts, 7 flies).

Winning baseball. Since 2004, Cabrera has participated in the postseason every season except for 2006. In 2004, he was the shortstop on the World Series winning Boston Red Sox.

Looks good, right? It does and OC owns an impressive resume. As I stated in the part about bat control, his offensive numbers were a bit down this season. A strained oblique didn’t help matters either, but OC experienced one of his poorer offensive efforts in 2010. When he went down with the oblique problem, Paul Janish stepped in and proved he could fill the role. Compare the numbers between OC and Janish:

We know what we get with Janish’s defense. He possesses a better range and a better arm. The issue is the bat and Janish did pretty much match or even exceed Cabrera’s offensive numbers in 2010. Sure, there’s the issue of playing a higher number of games and potentially wearing down over the long haul of a baseball season. Janish is 8 years younger. That’s a decision Walt will have to determine and initially, I have read where it is quite possible that Cabrera may not be back this season as the Reds may very well decline their “part” of a mutual option for 2011.

The bats weren’t as explosive as maybe you’d like, but the defense was above board.

Overall Grade: B-