Though Miguel Cabrera was a key contributor (3 for 4, double, 2 RBI’s, 1 run) in the Tigers’ 6-4 win over the White Sox last night, ESPN’s Buster Olney considers the struggles of the former Marlins 1B and teammate Dontrelle Willis, and casts a wary eye towards the duo’s waistlines.
Unless Willis and Cabrera begin to seriously focus on their conditioning and give themselves a chance to be great, Detroit’s off-season blockbuster trade — which was followed by $181 million in investment in the two players — is going to be remembered as one of the colossal busts of all time, because of the assets involved. Some scouts who have seen Willis believe that part of his problem is that he simply has gotten too big to maintain his complicated delivery, and unless he drops some weight, he will not be able to repeat his mechanics with any consistency.
Not to absolve either player from their responsibilities, but exactly what happened between the early December trade and Opening Day? Willis was signed to a three-year extension 3 weeks after his move from Miami, Cabrera to an eye-popping $153.3 million pact some 3 months later. How does an organization, even one propped up by America’s 3rd or 4th worst pizza chain, make such an investment without considering a player’s physical condition? Even Jerome James believes the Tigers would be justified including a fitness clause in their contracts.