Coming from the primitive 1960’s when there were just 20 teams in the majors, it is sometimes difficult to keep track of the 750 names that come and go on today’s big league rosters.
If you said McLain or Howard in late 1968 there was a 99% certainty that you were referring to Denny and Frank because Ellie had just retired and there has only ever been one Denny McLain, thank goodness.
Multiple players with the same surname were a simultaneous rarity.
Sure, we had the Alou brothers back then but they were the exception. Besides, they were all different and that made it easy to remember. Matty was the brother who hit .342 and won the batting crown. Felipe was the next best Alou, batting .286 and the only one of the brothers with real HR power. Jesus, the baby, played 15 years and wasn’t so good as his kin but still batted a nifty .280.
Those were simpler times. Today, we have 50% more big leaguers. That’s an extra 250 players to know. And I’m having trouble with that.
The worse part of this is that I can’t keep my Cabreras straight.
There is the Cabrera who won the Triple Crown. There is the Cabrera who helped end the curse in Boston. There is the Cabrera who disgraced himself with PED’s. Plus the one who stole 44 bases last year for the Padres. And there is the Cabrera who plays short for the Tribe and went .270, 16, 68 in 2012. Nice !
That’s it, correct?
Let’s go over this slowly.
You got Miguel, Orlando, Melky, Asdrubal and Everth.
And there are many others, all recently retired. Jose in 2002. Jolbert in 2008. Francisco in 1993. Fernando in 2010. Edwar in 2012. Daniel in 2009. Alex in 2000. Alberto in 2012
And lastly, there was Alfredo, who played only in 1913, and was nicknamed El Pajaro, which translates to “The Bird”, a la Fidrych.
El Pajaro was born in the Canary Islands, Spain, in 1881 and died in 1964 in Batanbano, Cuba. In between he found time to play 1 game for Miller Huggins’ 1913 St. Louis Cardinals. He also played 14 seasons in the Negro Leagues and 8 more in the white minor leagues. Connecticut bugs will be interested in knowing that he spent 4 seasons with the New Britain Perfectos and 1 with the Waterbury Spuds. Plus 3 with the Springfield (Mass) Ponies and 1 with the Worcester (Mass.) Busters.
The Bird must have had family in the Hartford-Springfield market.
Al Cabrera’s history is a research project for another day.
The important things to know about the 14 Cabreras who have labored in the bigs are….
Alberto Antonio Cabrera was born in 1988 in the DR. The righty pitcher spent 8 years in the minors and 25 not-so-good appearances out of the Cubs bullpen in 2012, his only year in the majors to date. The only MLB HR he allowed was to a guy who hits one every 300 AB’s: Pittsburgh SS Clint Barmes. I’m guessing that Alberto is not coming back up.
Alexander Alberto Cabrera was born in 1971 in Venezuela. The 1st baseman/outfielder labored for 5 years in the minors, batting .270 with decent power. He then spent 2 years in the Mexican League before jumping briefly to the Diamondbacks, where he registered .263, 5, 14 in 31 games in 2000. Not bad, but not good enough to keep him in the U.S.. He then averaged 26 HR’s and a .300+ BA for the Seibu Lions, Orix Bufflaoes and Fukuoka Sea Hawks of the Japan Pacific League over 11 years in the land of the rising sun.
Daniel Alberto Cruz Cabrera was born in the DR in 1981. Likely the largest of Cabreas at 6 ft 7”tall, Danny went 12-8 with a 5.00 ERA as a rookie in 2004, finishing 3rd in the ROY voting and just ahead of Zack Greinke. Playing for the mostly bad Orioles from 2004-07, he never saw the post season. He did start 155 games, and in 2007 led the AL in losses, earned runs and walks allowed. Ugh. Still, he earned $8 million in a 5 year MLB career that ended in 2009.
Edwar Cabrera was born in the DR in 1987. The lefty starter made his baseball home in 9 minor league towns over 5 years before he debuted for the Rockies in 2012, where he started 2 games, allowing 3 HR’s and 9 ER in 5.2 IP’s. All three homers came on 6-27-12 to the Nationals at Coors Field. (Ian Desmond, Ryan Zimmerman and Tyler Moore.) At this writing, Edwar is nowhere to be seen on the American BB radar.
Fernando Cabrera was born in Puerto Rico in 1981. The righty reliever appeared in 132 games with a 5.24 ERA for Cleveland, Baltimore and Boston (2004 – 2010). He never lived up to the promise of his 2005 season in Cleveland (15G, 2-1, 1.47 ERA, 29K’s in 30.2 IP’s) but he did make a bit over $2 million in a 7 year career. He is an oddity on this list because he was actually drafted.
Francisco Paulino Cabrera was born in the DR in 1966. Francisco, was signed as an amateur by the Blue Jays right before they became post season regulars. Funny thing was that this versatile PH/C/1B played in two World Series during his short career, but he did it with Atlanta, not the Jays. Francisco made a smidge more than $600,000 total in his 5 year career.
Jolbert Cabrera was born in Colombia in 1972. The IF/OF utility man logged a decent .257 BA over 8 years with 4 teams, but he seemed to like it best in LA, where he hit .284 with the Dodgers. Jolbert did not pitch or catch, but he played the other 7 fielding positions in his major league career. He retired after 2008. JC earned more than $2.5 million in the bigs. Which is considerably less than the $51 Million his brother Orlando, the O Dog, made.
Jose Alberto Cabrera was born in 1972 in the DR. Mostly a reliever, the righty had a 19-17 record with 4 saves when he finished his 6 year career in 2002. Jose was either very good (ERA of 2.42 for 1997, 1999 & 2001) or pretty bad (ERA of 6.32 for 1998, 2000, 2002). This human box-of-chocolates made $1.3 million at the highest level.
Orlando Luis Cabrera was born in Colombia in 1974. He led the league in Sac Flies three times, and games played twice. His lifetime .272, 123, 854 nicely complement his 216 SB’s. As any Red Sox fan can tell you, Orlando had the mojo of a winner, something he also brought to the Expos, Angels, Twins, Giants, A’s, Reds, Indians and White Sox, too. He won two Gold Gloves at SS. He was top 10 in doubles 4 times and in stolen bases twice. The dude hung it up after the 2011 season with the Giants. And he is missed.
Everth Cabrera was born in Nicaragua in 1986. The smallish shortstop led the NL with 44 steals in 2012 (in 115 games) and currently leads it with 18 (in 46 games). He projects to 60+ steals in a full season, and given that he is at age 26 now the regular Padre SS, he will probably reach that plateau. He also projects to 90 runs scored over 162 games. Everth has the 4th best range for an NL shortstop and is an interesting young player. He is arbitration eligible after this season, and free agency eligible in 2017. Watch him.
Asdrubal Jose Cabrera was born in Venezuela in 1985. The 6 ft, 205 lb infielder has moved permanently from second base to short where he shows above average range and makes few errors. The two-time All Star has one Silver Slugger in his closet, hardware earned when he went yard 25 times for the only major league team he has ever played for, the Indians. He is capable with the bat, no doubt, as his 5 hits and 2 HR’s versus the Tigers last night evidences. This guy is just another of those 5 or 6 very solid shortstops playing in the AL right now, all nice combinations of proficient hitting and fielding.
And then there is Melky. The Melk Man. Leche. Melky Cabrera was born in the DR in 1984. The switch hitting outfielder sports a .284 BA lifetime which was dramatically inflated when he batted .305 and .346 in 2011 and 2012, far above his otherwise .267 career BA. Of course, the steroid suspension of 2012 hangs over him like a cloud, following him indoors to the Rogers Center where he holds down left field and the DH slot for the Jays. The $20 million he has earned to date will assuage his pain.
And there is Jose Miguel Torres Cabrera, the big Kitty Kat, the top Tiger. Muscles. This 6 ft. 4”, 240 lb third baseman was born in Venezuela in 1983. And like every Cabrera on this list except for Fernando Cabrera, he was a free agent signing, not a draft pick. Miggy has led his league in doubles once, HR’s twice, RBI twice, and BA twice. The seven time All Star has one MVP plaque on his wall, and his .330, 44, 139 in 2012 made him the first Triple Crown winner since Yaz in 1967. The big dude is hitting .387 with 13 and 52 currently and it is reasonable to say he has a decent chance to be the first guy to earn the Triple Crown in back-to-back years.
That’s a bakers-dozen-plus-one of Cabreras. Not as hard as charting the 19 MLB players named after George Washington, or as easy as the 1 named after Julius Caesar, but still a fascinating list, one that shows how important the DR and Venezuela are to baseball’s recent history, and to its future.
It says a lot that there was one major league Cabrera in the 76 seasons from 1913 to 1988, and 13 more in the last 25 years.
Now if I can just keep them all straight.