The latest deal fills an offensive hole up the middle. Rookie shortstop Brandon Crawford's .195 batting average -- he has just five extra-base hits over his the last 148 at bats (after debuting with a grand slam) -- wasn't getting it done. While Crawford provided enough value with his glove to garner the majority of playing time at short, the same could not be said of his bat.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Sabean said he had to make a move.
"Our guys look overmatched with the bat, and [Cabrera] has experience," said Sabean. "We had to react to being undermanned, and we couldn't pass up the opportunity."
To make room for Cabrera the Giants optioned Crawford back to Fresno.
In steps Orlando Cabrera, the 14-year veteran who had been with the Cleveland Indians this year. The Giants are Cabrera's 6th team in the last 4 years. We could argue that Cabrera's .242/.275/.318 batting line is arguably on par with the 24-year-old Crawford's, but it seems Sabean would rather have a veteran at the position than a rookie with just 150 MLB at bats to his name. What makes this move interesting to us is that Cabrera has been pitiful in his playoff appearances over the last 5 seasons, with his so-so bat becoming worse once October baseball begins.
The man being sent to Cleveland for Cabrera is Thomas Neal. Neal exploded as a 21-year-old in San Jose in 2009 with 102 runs scored, 90 RBI, 67 extra-base hits and a 1.010 OPS. He stands a solid 6'2", 220 and was looking like a potential contributor at the big league level. Going into this season he was ranked by Baseball America as the 7th best prospect in the Giants system.
After his breakout 2009, his power dropped significantly in 2010 in Richmond and Fresno. While he was able to maintain an average above .290 at all three of his minor league stops, his walk rate and power regression has eaten away at his top prospect status. Still, at the time of the trade he was ranked as the Giants 6th best prospect, according to the Giants website. Whether that ranking is based off of previous success or current production is unclear.
So while Neal had been hot name in the organization, we suggest being dealt for Orlando Cabrera doesn't speak well for what the Giants currently thought of him.