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Cabrera 'was born to hit'


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Cabrera 'was born to hit'

By Joe Capozzi

 

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

 

Friday, August 25, 2006

 

MIAMI GARDENS ? In his days with Cincinnati's Big Red Machine, slugger Tony Perez knew his presence in the lineup helped fellow stars like Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Johnny Bench get pitches to hit.

 

So when Florida slashed its payroll during the winter, Perez, a Marlins special assistant, worried about how rising superstar Miguel Cabrera would perform in a lineup loaded with rookies.

 

Perez isn't worried anymore.

 

With a .341 batting average, 22 home runs and 93 RBI through 126 games, Cabrera is proving that he can have yet another monster season without protection from established hitters like Carlos Delgado or Pudge Rodriguez.

 

"I thought he was going to have more problems this year because of the way our team is," Perez said. "But the guy has been hitting all year. ...

 

"That's not easy when you don't have experienced hitters in the lineup and you're the one with the most experience. I've never seen anybody do anything like this with so many young guys."

 

With two home runs Wednesday, Cabrera became the fifth active player to reach 100 homers before his 24th birthday.

 

"He is the Barry Bonds of the eastern division," said veteran relief pitcher Matt Herges, who played with Bonds in San Francisco. "He was born to hit. The instincts he has, the way he swings at off-speed pitches, the way he hits the ball to all fields, it's amazing."

 

Cabrera needs eight home runs in the final 36 games for his third consecutive season with at least 30. Seven RBI will give him 100 for the third straight season.

 

After Wednesday's games, Cabrera led the league in on-base percentage at .431. He has 68 walks this year, which is 14th in the league and ties his high for a season. Twenty-two of those walks have been intentional, second to Bonds' 36.

 

But Cabrera's most telling statistic is his batting average, six points behind league leader Freddy Sanchez of Pittsburgh and 31 points above his career average.

 

Those numbers speak to his maturation as a hitter since breaking into the majors in June 2003.

 

"Earlier in his career, he was a pretty good hitter, but he just seems to understand what the situation calls for," said Hall of Fame slugger Frank Robinson, manager of the Washington Nationals. "He's not worrying about home runs. I'm not saying he was before, but he wants to get the job done.

 

"He is an outstanding young hitter and he is getting better."

 

This season, Wes Helms, Florida's veteran reserve infielder, has gotten into the habit of watching Cabrera take batting practice. He noticed that Cabrera, a right-handed hitter, stroked ball after ball to the opposite field instead of pulling it.

 

"I ask him, 'Why do you do that?' The thing he told me is the same thing I was told by Chipper (Jones) and all of my hitting coaches."

 

And that is: Look for the outside pitch, because it's easier to adjust when the pitch comes inside than the other way around.

 

"And that's what he does in batting practice," Helms said.

 

"Everything is away, away, away because he knows in a game if they come in, he'll just react to it."

 

Cabrera's approach to hitting, said veteran Marlins reliever Joe Borowski, "is someone who is 36, not someone who is 23.

 

"He is not in there trying to hit home runs during BP like most people do, he actually is trying to work on something for that game," Borowski said.

 

"That's what I find so unbelievable especially for somebody so young. He's a very unselfish player."

 

Marlins hitting coach Jim Presley laughed when asked what he can teach a hitter like Cabrera. Presley responded by saying that he tells his hitters to watch Cabrera.

 

"I don't think I've missed one at-bat of his," outfielder Cody Ross said.

 

"I'm just constantly watching, trying to learn something. You can learn a lot from him, even in BP. Next thing you know, he's not even trying and he's putting them in the upper deck."

 

With his steady production, Cabrera has emerged into a clubhouse leader who is respected and liked by his teammates.

 

That wasn't always the case last year when some veterans questioned his work ethic. Then-manager Jack McKeon benched Cabrera for a game for being late to work out the previous day.

 

"Last year, people had a perception of him as being selfish," said Herges, who joined the team this spring. "I haven't see that at all.

 

"Everything I've have seen out of him this year has been on time, hard working. It's obvious that he cares."

 

His performance is setting him up for a big paycheck when he becomes eligible for arbitration after this season. He is earning $472,000 this year.

 

"I think the Marlins are crazy not to lock him up for 10 years, said Tom Paciorek, a longtime major-leaguer who is a TV analyst for the Nationals.

 

"You want to build a championship team. You start with him. He is no lower than the second-best hitter in baseball after Albert Pujols."

 

Pujols was entering his first year of arbitration in 2004 when the Cardinals signed him to a seven-year contract worth $100 million.

 

Andy Mota, one of Cabrera's representatives, said the Marlins have not contacted him about a long-term contract.

 

The Marlins have had a practice of signing their players to one-year deals. Cabrera will have a strong case in arbitration this winter to get at least what Pujols earned in the first year of his big contract: $7 million.

 

Cabrera "has put up numbers for almost four full seasons," Mota said. "But the Marlins have their policy. We respect it. Miguel is prepared to go with that.

 

"If at any moment they express an interest to talk about a multiyear deal, we would be more than willing to talk about it ."

 

Cabrera wasn't thrilled in spring training when get a nominal raise from the $370,000 he made in 2005. But he "knows his payday will come,"' Mota said, "as long as he plays well and plays every day and produces."

 

Source --http://www.palmbeachpost.com/marlins/conte...rlins_0825.html

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good article....

 

 

 

Look I love Willis and Cabrera however....

 

in the future I would NOT have a problem with trading Dontrelle for the right package ONLY because we are LOADED as of pitching.

 

But, if we ever get rid of Cabrera, there will be a lot of pissed off Marlin fans and I'll be #1. Cabs is the real deal and if he stays healthy could very well be a hall of famer!!!

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He needs to be locked up to a 7 year $100 million deal yesterday.

 

That doesn't make sense, but I know what you mean. We need to lock up Cabrera and Willis too. I keep saying I'd be willing to trade Willis, but what are we gonna say if we trade him and he's a 20-game winner again. I don't think D-Train will be this ineffective in the future, he's gonna be a fantastic ballplayer, him and Cabrera.

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VERY interesting read. I was deeply impressed with his work ethic. I remember my freinds were joking with me on how classless Miguel was when they read that article where he said "F**K the veterans."

 

 

 

hes come a long way. its probably better around the clubhouse to have younger guys around him than older ones, cuz its not like he needs advice from them on how to hit :p

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I've been saying that I've noticed a pronounced difference in Miggy since the All-Star break. I love that he seems to have taken his leadership role to a higher level and seems more focused at 3rd base. He's always been an unbelievable talent and great fun to watch but now seems to be maturing as well. :notworthy

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I've been saying that I've noticed a pronounced difference in Miggy since the All-Star break. I love that he seems to have taken his leadership role to a higher level and seems more focused at 3rd base. He's always been an unbelievable talent and great fun to watch but now seems to be maturing as well. :notworthy

 

he's certainly proved the people wrong that thought he'd slump after the HRD.

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