Giants get middle infield help with Orlando Cabrera

The well-travelled Orlando Cabrera wil join his ninth major league team when he joins the Giants on Sunday. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The deals just keep on coming for Brian Sabean and the San Francisco Giants.

On Saturday — after the Giants lost to the Cincinnati Reds 7-2 — San Francisco acquired veteran shortstop Orlando Cabrera in a trade with the Cleveland Indians in exchange for minor league outfielder Thomas Neal.

The good news for the Giants is Cabrera is a winner — at least he’s played for winners. Cabrera has gone to the playoffs with a different team each of the past four seasons — Angels (2007), White Sox (2008), Twins (2009) and Reds (2010). That’s the good news. The bad news is none of those teams advanced past the divisional round in the playoffs.

The other bad news is Cabrera’s numbers have been steadily declining over the years. This season he has hit .244 with 4 home runs and 38 RBI. But his six stolen bases is more than all but two of the Giants currently on the 25-man roster.

But even numbers of a .244 average, .277 OBP and .321 slugging is better than what the current Giants shortstops have done.

Manager Bruce Bochy quickly said that Cabrera will be the Giants’ everyday shortstop. That has a couple of repercussions. First, it means Brandon Crawford will be heading to Fresno, likely on Sunday.

Crawford has given the Giants a good glove at shortstop, but he still hasn’t figured out major league pitching. After Saturday’s game, he’s hitting .193. Since going 2 for 6 against the Padres on July 6, he’s 4 for 37 (.108).

Even Mike Fontenot hasn’t done much with numbers of .206/.292/.348. Fontenot has really struggled of late, hitless in last 21 at-bats.

The cost of Cabrera was relatively cheap. Neal, 23, was hitting .295 with two HRs and 25 RBI in 60 games at Fresno this season. He went on the DL with a bruised hand on July 17.

Neal is a good player, but the Giants have other fleet-footed outfielders in their system like Darren Ford and Gary Brown.

It will be curious to see what the Giants do when Miguel Tejada returns from the disabled list. Tejada is hoping to return Aug. 4, when he is eligible to come off the DL.

Tejada has numbers of .242/.274/.334 for the season, but he had started to swing a hotter bat before going on the DL. In his last 12 games before going on the DL, he had numbers of .324/.375/.459.

Judging by how little they’ve been using him since his most recent call-up (his third of the year), we’d expect Brandon Belt to return to Fresno when Tejada is ready to come off the DL.

Yet Belt has looked better at the plate. He 4 for 10 in his three starts since his recall in mid-July, with a home run, three RBI and only two strikeouts.

Might the Giants decide to something more daring with the roster? Not likely, but it’s still possible.


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