(AP Photo. Like choosing Miami, OH over Miami, FL. Or Paris, Texas over Paris, France, the Nationals are considering free agent Orlando Cabrera. Over Orlando Hudson.)
"It's a huge part of the puzzle. It's a huge part of the makeup of a championship-caliber club. I've been on several championship clubs in the big leagues, and you don't win unless you have guys in the clubhouse that have character, that stick together and that play as a unit."
(Mike Rizzo, via Washington TImes, 7/3/2009)
He's the wrong Orlando!
...and not just because of the whopping 33 games at 2B in his career (last time in 2000 with Montreal). Bill Ladson reported Friday night that the Nationals are interested in Orlando Cabrera as a backup plan to Orlando Hudson. The O-Cab, not the O-Dog, would play second base:
If the Nationals were to sign Cabrera, the plan would be to put him at second base, while Cristian Guzman would remain at shortstop.
But the off-the-field "stuff" has us a bit concerned. Phil Wood touched on it last night at MASN Sports dot com:
It's the fact that he keeps jumping around that concerns me. I've heard the rumors that he's not a great clubhouse presence, but there's always someone who wants him.
Since 7+ years in Montreal from 1997-2004, the Other Orlando has made stops in Boston, to LA/Anaheim, Chicago, Oakland, and Minnesota. But the jumping around isn't even what's got us most concerned, per se. In a 2008 story in ESPN the Magazine on O-Cab's fued with fellow Columbian SS Edgar Renteria, Jorge Arangure Jr. touches on the shady details of why the Red Sox didn't want him back after his 2004 heroics:
After the Sox won the World Series, Cartagena celebrated its native son. Civic leaders sent a fire truck to pick Cabrera up at the airport and take him directly to a ceremony at City Hall. But not long after that, Red Sox management decided that the free agent was no longer in their plans. There were rumors that Cabrera partied too much, according to a source close to the organization.
But if you start digging a little deeper -- and all that means is simply googling "Orlando Cabrera Boston character rumors" or trauling some of the Red Sox message boards for posts related to O-Cab...there's definitely some dirt flying that seems to go beyond "partying too hard". Of course, all of it is completely anonymous, unsubstantiated, internet dirt, but there seems to be a common thread there. For example, from the Sons of Sam Horn board, there's an entire thread from 2008 in response to an online chat with the Boston Globe's Bob Ryan. Ryan's answer to the mystery of Cabrera's exile from Boston goes a little something like this:
Dewey24: Looks like Orlando Cabrera is on the outs in Chicago. Should the Sox consider bringing him back here next year, even with Lowrie?
Bob Ryan: There's a reason why he has bounced around that has nothing to do with what he does on the field, and we'll leave it at that.
Jeff_from_Maine: Re: Cabrera. Don't reporters have a responsibility to, you know, report, instead of protecting the players and maintaining ridiculous unspoken "rules?"
Bob Ryan: It has nothing to do with "rules." It has to do with not wanting to get sued if you're wrong. I'm just telling you there's a reason why he's been bouncing around.
So, according to the "experts" on SoSH and other internet sources, Cabrera was doing all, some, or none of the following: rolling with an undesirable crew of thugs; sleeping with a teammate's wife; and/or pursuing underage girls. Not good. And maybe: not true. But it gets us back to Ryan's point above...there IS a reason why he's been bouncing around.
Seems like a bad idea for a Nationals team being reconstructed by Mike Rizzo: a guy who has gone on record numerous times placing a premium on "character" in the players he pursues. Just doesn't seem like a good fit...