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Cote: Marlins must lockup Cabrera longterm

Eddie Altamonte

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http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sport...ll/16752353.htm

IN MY OPINION

Marlins need to lock up Cabrera for long run

By GREG COTE
gcote@MiamiHerald.com

JUPITER -- There is a vaguely held perception that Miguel Cabrera gets by on natural talent alone.

It is a scary thought: That a young man with 92 home runs and 342 RBI over the past three seasons, and coming off a career-best .339 batting average, might yet be a lot better once he strikes an internal fire.

Imagine. Cabrera, still 23, has been an All-Star three consecutive seasons, and the only other guys with three 100-ribbie years in a row by his age were a couple of schleps named Mel Ott and Ted Williams. Yet there exists the notion that the centerpiece of the Marlins has, well, underachieved.

The idea is either ridiculous or a stunning glimpse of a potential only beginning to take muscle and shape.

The postulate that Cabrera gets by on mad skills with modest effort is enough to make fellow franchise pillar Dontrelle Willis something rare for him. Angry.

''He works, man,'' D-Train was saying Tuesday as the Marlins gathered here for their first full spring workday. ``He's in the cage before and after practice. He watches film. He even helped me turn around my season [in 2006] as far as things he saw. Early in the year, when I was struggling, he told me how guys were attacking me and adjustments I needed to make. Nobody thinks he talks like that.''

GROWING UP

Cabrera is growing, in ways beyond the commas in his bank account thanks to an arbitration victory. A year ago, he was 6-2 and 210 pounds. Today he is 6-4 and 240, towering over the media clot around him in the clubhouse.

He spent more than 30 games playing winter ball in his native Venezuela, when we weren't looking, growing his comfort level as a defensive third baseman.

Growing, growing.

''I want to do more adjustments,'' he said. ``Be more patient. Not swing at a lot of bad pitches like I used to do.''

Cabrera is to the Marlins what Dwyane Wade is to the Heat: a guy every other team would dream to have. They are only months apart in age. Both debuted in Miami in 2003. You could right now call each a future Hall of Famer with little fear of dissent.

Cabrera, like Wade, begs hyperbole and rises to meet it. They are bound for the company of only Dan Marino among South Florida's exclusive top tier of most gifted professional athletes ever.

Traipse around the Marlins clubhouse and ask the guys who know him best about Cabrera. Eyes light. Heads shake in awe, near-reverence. It might have been like this asking a bunch of Renaissance-age artisans about Michelangelo.

First baseman Mike Jacobs will talk for 20 minutes, if you let him, about the positioning of Cabrera's wrists and hands, about watching Cabrera go to the opposite field and rope baseballs to right.

''It helps everybody in the lineup watching him. You try to emulate what he does,'' Jacobs said. ``Maybe the only other guy you'd put with him is [Albert] Pujols.''

Marlins hitters speak as if they are mortals, and Cabrera is something more.

''He is just something that God came down to touch,'' Jacobs said.

Second baseman Dan Uggla had one more homer than Cabrera last year (27 to 26), but all but physically bows when asked about his teammate in the No. 24 shirt.

''Unlike the rest of us, he was born to hit,'' Uggla said. ``A Ted Williams-type.''

Cabrera is not perfect, as we were reminded when he skipped FanFest recently. He is not as fan-friendly and autograph-giving as Willis and many others. On the diamond, though, there is no question who is the hub of Marlins playoff hopes in 2007.

''If I do good everybody does good,'' Cabrera said, thoroughly without conceit. ``They follow me.''

Willis agreed: ``As he goes, we go. That may be a lot on a guy mentally, but he's strong enough to handle it. I expect great things from him. He can do as much as he wants to. He's our Manny Ramirez. He's that good.''

TEAM MUST PAY BIG

The litmus test on this ownership's commitment to a winning future will be its willingness to pay big to keep Cabrera beyond this season. The penny-pinching Marlins might try to justify trading him, but don't buy it -- especially if that new stadium deal expected final by this fall really happens.

The Marlins need to do with Cabrera what the Cardinals have done with his friend, Pujols. Sign him long-term. Make his the permanent feared bat around which the future is built. Spend (for a change) to keep who everyone wants.

''That would be nice,'' Cabrera said, working to allay concerns that arbitration and the criticism of him over the FanFest thing strained his relations with management. ``Why would there be hard feelings? I love this team. They gave me the opportunity. They give me a lot of chance. I love playing in Miami. I want to stay here.''

Hope the feeling of management is mutual because we've only just begun to see what Miguel Cabrera might become.
 

ultimopain

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Marlins hitters speak as if they are mortals, and Cabrera is something more.

''He is just something that God came down to touch,'' Jacobs said.

What an awesome quote.
 

DelGOT2Rings

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Cote = captain obvious.

However, he did state that Cabrera grew two inches in the last year, no small feat for a then 22 year-old.

JIMMY JACK BEAT ME TO IT!
 

prinmemito

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Wow, it's impressive that he grew two inches at ag 22. I hope he doesn't grow anymore. Does this mean he'll gain some power?
 

Shaq-Man

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The time is right for Miggy to start learning how to throw a changeup.
 

Das Texan

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I'm tired of the same tired cry for poverty.


sign miguel long term and lets move on with things.


either that or sell the team and/or move.


if they dont sign him long term, might as well just pack up shop and fold the franchise.
 

Marlin Nation

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I wouldn't be so hard on this franchise if they didn't sign Cabs long term, there aren't many teams that can afford to sign him when he reaches FA. I think its very unlikely that they sign him long term even with a stadium in place not with this ownership.
 

Das Texan

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I wouldn't be so hard on this franchise if they didn't sign Cabs long term, there aren't many teams that can afford to sign him when he reaches FA. I think its very unlikely that they sign him long term even with a stadium in place not with this ownership.


If they do elect to not re-sign Cabrera long term and either trade him or let him walk, I may finally give up.
 

FishFan24

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A player like Cabrera only comes around once in a blue moon and it may only happen to a franchise once or twice in their entire existence. You do NOT let a player like Cabrera dangle out there and let him get more and more expensive to the point that you know you are no longer going to be able to afford him. You sign him long term now and worry about the rest latter. If this owner ship was willing to give Delgado all of that money just a few years ago, why can't they do it for Cabrera? Why because Jeff isn't going to break the bank till he gets what he wants??
 

Eddie Altamonte

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MMhmmm...Let's see...Miguel Cabrera...or more art?
...Cabrera or more art?

Sorry Miguel nice to have known you :blink:
 

Fallen Apple

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A player like Cabrera only comes around once in a blue moon and it may only happen to a franchise once or twice in their entire existence. You do NOT let a player like Cabrera dangle out there and let him get more and more expensive to the point that you know you are no longer going to be able to afford him. You sign him long term now and worry about the rest latter. If this owner ship was willing to give Delgado all of that money just a few years ago, why can't they do it for Cabrera? Why because Jeff isn't going to break the bank till he gets what he wants??
What Cabs can get makes the money Delgado got look like grits.
 

TSwift25

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I wouldn't be so hard on this franchise if they didn't sign Cabs long term, there aren't many teams that can afford to sign him when he reaches FA. I think its very unlikely that they sign him long term even with a stadium in place not with this ownership.


If they do elect to not re-sign Cabrera long term and either trade him or let him walk, I may finally give up.

Ditto
 

knuckleball93

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The Marlins need to sign him to a long term now, when he is still in our organization. If not, teams will pursue him with deals higher than the Marlins payroll. For example, if he has a great year again, he will ask for a salary increase, putting the marlins in a position to trade him. The marlins need to sign him long term now so that he will remain about 3-5 years with us under a given salary.
 

rferry

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Even I agree with the sentiment. What I don't is the argument's ignorance of the Marlins situation. By signing Cabrera long term, the Marlins potentially suffer as much as they benefit.

The concerns that come with potentially upsetting our star by taking him arbitration are amplified when it comes to negotiating a long-term deal. While the MarlinsLous like to think they've found the perfect figure or range, what the Marlins and Cabrera and his agents peg the right figure is sure to be different. As will be their opinion of the clauses and language of the contract. For those wishing a long-term contract to put away their concerns over Cabrera's future, it's extremely likely that mere negotiations will cause a greater rupture between the team and Cabrera than any of the ambiguity of one year contracts and arguments utilized in arbitration hearings.
 

anotherrealfan

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A player like Cabrera only comes around once in a blue moon and it may only happen to a franchise once or twice in their entire existence. You do NOT let a player like Cabrera dangle out there

You do if you are Loria and Co. and are way in over your head because you want to be a sports owner
and let him get more and more expensive to the point that you know you are no longer going to be able to afford him. You sign him long term now and worry about the rest latter. If this owner ship was willing to give Delgado all of that money just a few years ago,

Really doesnt look like they were ever going to give Delgado all that money-that contract clearly indicated the intentions.
why can't they do it for Cabrera? Why because Jeff isn't going to break the bank till he gets what he wants??
Jeff has what he wants-he is making money, wont have to repay the loan, has an appreciating asset and does not have to get in front on the public. He has mini me to do it for him.

(OK, I am somewhat computer literate, but cant always figure out how to split up quotes-so apologies in advance if the above is mixed up)
 

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