Friday, October 23, 2009

Former Expo in the MLB Playoffs Once Again

This article was first published in the October 23rd edition of Main Street Week and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by to have a look at a great community newspaper or sign up and have Main Street Week delivered right to your inbox every Friday.

Former Expo in the MLB Playoffs Once Again

The baseball playoffs are underway in the MLB and the World Series will wrap up sometime in November. Hard to believe the boys of summer cannot end their season before the snow flies - but that is the topic for another discussion. After a gruelling 162 game schedule, only eight of the thirty teams qualify for the playoffs and for many players, earning a trip to the post season even once can take years; many players never reach the playoffs during their entire career. One exception to this trend is former Montreal Expos player, Orlando Cabrera.

Although his Minnesota Twins bowed out in the first round to the New York Yankees this year, Cabrera has earned a trip to the post season five times in the past six years since he left Montreal in July of 2004. This season, the Twins and Detroit Tigers finished in a tie for the American League’s Central division and a 163rd game was required to find a winner. With Cabrera in the line-up, it was not surprising to see the Twins win the game 6-5 in 12 innings and his presence was a factor, as he hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning.

Born in Cartagena Columbia, Cabrera joined the Expos organization as an amateur free agent in 1993. After working his way through the minor league system, with stops in Florida, Vermont, Pennsylvania and the franchise’s Triple A affiliate in Ottawa, he made his Montreal debut on September 3rd, 1997. After becoming the everyday shortstop in 1999, he would play in all 162 games in 2001 and 2003; earning a Gold Glove Award in 2001 for his defensive skills on the field. Cabrera joined the long list of young stars traded by the Expos in 2004, leaving Montreal in a trade with the Boston Red Sox.

It would turn into a great trade for the Red Sox, as they went on that season to break their curse and win the World Series for the first time since 1918; an astounding 86 years between championships. Cabrera was an integral part of the team, hitting .379 in the American League Championship and providing great defensive plays throughout the playoffs.

He left Boston as a free agent after the World Series and joined the Los Angeles Angels, where he stayed until a trade sent him to the Chicago White Sox in 2008. The 2006 season with LA is the only year since 2004 Cabrera has not played in the post season - his Angels finished second in the American League’s West division. He started the 2009 season in Oakland after signing as a free agent and once again, he was dealt at the trade deadline to Minnesota.

Although he only has one World Series ring, Cabrera has enjoyed a tremendous career and at 37 years of age, his career is winding down. During his 13-year career, he has played 1,732 games in the majors, with a .275 career batting average. He has hit 114 home runs and accumulated 761 RBI’s (runs batted in). A free agent once again, Cabrera will likely sign a one-year contract and find himself traded to a contender next July as teams take advantage of his post-season experience. If you are looking for a dark horse team for next year’s MLB playoffs, watch for where Cabrera ends up, chances are his team will be playing when the snow starts to fly. Have a great sports day everyone.

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