I'll say upfront that I was never a huge Asdrubal Cabrera fan. I don't mean that I didn't like him, or didn't cheer for him, just that he was never the guy that especially moved me. When he first came up, I was enthralled with Grady Sizemore, Victor Martinez, and CC Sabathia, among others. The team was excellent in 2007, and so the arrival of a somewhat-touted prospect didn't move me the way it might have in other years.
I know it didn't especially move me, because I was there for Cabrera's first game with the Indians, and his presence hardly even registered. (I'd gone to see Sabathia pitch, and he pitched pretty well, but Rafael Betancourt blew a lead in the 8th, Joe Borowski blew a lead in the 12th, and someone named Aaron Fultz lost it in the 13th... Cabrera went 0 for 3, though he did put down a sacrifice bunt that moved the go-ahead run into scoring position in the 12th.)
Cabrera's breakout year was 2009, but that was one of the most depressing years to be a Tribe fan that I can recall, and I seem to have blocked a lot of it from memory. In any event, and for whatever combination of reasons, Cabrera never the guy for me. It's funny though, what time and shared experience can do to you, and having spent eight seasons rooting for Cabrera, even without the intensity with which I've rooted for some of his former teammates, I find that there's an attachment that I'll miss now.
Cabrera ends his Tribe career with 933 hits, including 211 doubles and 82 home runs, along with 475 runs scored, 430 runs batted in, and 69 stolen bases. He ranks among the top 40 in franchise history in all of those categories.
His last couple years haven't been great, as his bat has drifted from good to just okay, and his already questionable defense has slowed down a bit. It would have made no sense to keep him beyond this season and I'm glad the team was able to get an interesting prospect instead of letting him go for nothing. We root for the name on the front of the jersey, but the names on the backs of them matter too, and as Asdrubal leaves Cleveland, I find myself remembering the good times, and there were a lot of them.
I remember the home run he hit in the first game of the 2007 ALDS against the Yankees. I remember the home run he hit in the Tribe's incredible 14-run 2nd inning against the Yankees in 2009. I remember his 5-hit game against Cincinnati in 2011. I remember walk-off home runs he hit against the Royals in 2010, against the Reds in 2012, and against the Red Sox earlier this season.
Asdrubal Cabrera was here. He played hard and he played well. He mattered. I'll miss him.