Thomas Neal probably isn't going to be a starting outfielder. He's injury prone, and his K/BB ratio is moving in the wrong direction as he advances. His breakout year in 2009 is the outlier. I can accept that.
But think of what the Giants are really giving up. Three years of a competent backup making the league minimum, and that's a pretty pessimistic outlook. There are better scenarios for Thomas Neal's career -- he's still just 23, and I could see this being as awful as Shin-Soo Choo for Ben Broussard or Asdrubal Cabrera for Eduardo Perez when the dust settles. The Giants are giving it up for a slightly worse Edgar Renteria. Bill Hall with better defense. Brandon Crawford with worse defense.
Cabrera adds nothing. Nothing! It's amazing to think of a player who could do as little for the Giants right now. If they want a defense-first shortstop, they have Brandon Crawford. If they want a guy who can play every infield position, they have Mike Fontenot. What in the world can Cabrera add?
And this assumes that his defense really is good. His UZR over the last two seasons has been horrible. Small samples, and I'm not wild about UZR, but still.
No, this is a veteran-presence trade. He's been there before. Brandon Crawford hasn't. Cabrera knows what to do because he knows what to do when he did it that time it was done. So he'll start. He'll start at shortstop. When Tejada comes back, he'll be the super-utility guy. Maybe Tejada and Cabrera will pick up some starts at third and second. Maybe Tejada will start a couple of games at first against a tough lefty. Anything to make room for Orlando Cabrera. Cabrera's a veteran. He's been there before.
You know, there.
Just when I'm okay with Sabean as a general manager, he does something like this. It's not going to drop the Giants out of contention, and when it's all said and done, it's probably going to look like the LaTroy Hawkins for Jerome Williams deal -- awful at the time, totally meaningless in retrospect. But what in the absolute hell is the point? What does Cabrera add? For what? For whom?
Veteran presence. A calming calm. Steadiness. Some crap like that. But then here's the real question: If he's so damned magic, why is a team that just mortgaged the farm to contend giving him away for a prospect?
Weird. Hilarious. Awful. Sabean! I always said that if he won a World Series, that I'd put up with his crap for another 20 years. I'm not regretting that Faustian bargain yet. But check back with me in 19 years.