Ask any of the 650 big league ballplayers the same question and you’ll get the same answer. They all want more playing time. Some, like Mets infielder, Asdrubal Cabrera, to the chagrin of the team, get a bit testy about it. Acrimony no more though, Cabrera is putting together a dynamite year for the team he loved to hate.
At 32, Asdrubal Cabrera is playing his thirteenth season in the big leagues, a career scattered over four teams. In theory, he has passed his prime (25-31) and should be on the downward side of the pendulum.
Apparently, the Mets thought so and acted accordingly with then-manager Terry Collins moving Cabrera regularly around the infield almost as an afterthought, and not playing him at all some nights.
Asdrubal Cabrera did not sit by idly, candidly speaking out and even reaching the point of asking to be traded. Looking ahead, Cabrera could only see what he probably viewed as Mets favorites in Neil Walker and Jose Reyes. And that wasn’t even to mention Amed Rosario, the ultimate Mets favorite of their future, or the acquisition of Todd Frazier during the offseason.
This was then….
Cabrera hung in there and so did the Mets, finishing the season with a respectable .280 batting average along with some pop (14 HR, 59 RBI).
And then along came Mickey Callaway with a brand new call to action. Emphasizing no particular favorites, Callaway’s charge was simple – “You produce, you play”. Otherwise, be ready for anything. Callaway has been true to his modus operandi, not hesitating in sending Zack Wheeler down for a wake-up call and following up with a call to the bullpen for Matt Harvey.
Asdrubal Cabrera, however, answered the call when Callaway wrote his name in the lineup on the first day of the 2018 season and has since appeared in all of the Mets games as a starter.
Production? No Met has contributed more. No one in the National League has more hits than Asdrubal Cabrera (29). Only once has he fallen under the .300 mark in his sixth game and is currently batting a robust .349, placing him in the top ten in the National League.
If there’s a criticism with his game at the moment, it’s the paltry six walks he has drawn. Yet, even there, Cabrera comes out smelling like roses with the longest on-base streak for the team this season at 11 games.
These baseball stories don’t come along every day. Ballplayers, in and out of the majors, spend many a sleepless night wondering to themselves, “Why can’t they just give me a chance?”. A few, like Rosario and Michael Conforto, are anointed and the only blockage in their way is themselves because the team will go out of their way to give them every chance to succeed or fail.
Hardly “anointed” by the Mets, Asdrubal Cabrera, if anything, pissed the Mets off with his demands last season. And if not for the arrival of a new mindset in the way the Mets conduct business on the field, Cabrera most likely would have remained the, “Oh yeah, him” guy on the team.
Will it last? That’s up to Asdrubal Cabrera, isn’t it? But he has at least gained the confidence of Callaway, and if a drop-off ensues, he’s been good enough to hang in there with him.
And in the same way, the Mets are coming to believe in Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo as well-hidden but wildly successful bullpen artists, once given the chance and the role to succeed by Callaway, Cabrera has been the offensive MVP for the Mets so far this season, courtesy of the opportunity granted to him.
These feel-good baseball stories arise ever so infrequently in baseball, and the Mets are fortunate to be on the receiving end of the one revolving around Asdrubal Cabrera this season.
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