Tigers’ Cabrera expected to move to third base to make room for Fielder

Milwaukee Brewers batter Prince Fielder reacts after he hit a ball out of the ballpark foul against the New York Yankees before striking out in the eighth inning of their MLB interleague baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, June 30, 2011. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Following the Detroit Tigers’ acquisition of free agent first baseman Prince Fielder on Tuesday, Miguel Cabrera is expected to move to third base.

There was some initial talk that the club would use a rotation at the corner infield spots, as Fielder and Cabrera would each play first base on some days while Cabrera moved to third base on others. But Cabrera told the Venezuelan newspaper Lider en Deportes that he would move to third base to accommodate Fielder.

“I will come back to the third base, which is my natural position,” Cabrera said via a translated version of the story. “The arrival of Fielder will benefit us.”

Cabrera played third base with the Florida Marlins before being traded to Detroit and eventually shifting over to first. At 240 pounds he’ll likely need to get into better shape this offseason in order to gain more flexibility for the position, but his willingness to move has to be comforting for the Tigers. (Especially considering the small rift that occurred in Miami earlier this offseason where Hanley Ramirez gave the Marlins some gruff by stating he would not move to third base in order to make room for free agent acquisition Jose Reyes.)

Fielder batted .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBI in his final season with the Milwaukee Brewers last year. Since 2007, he hasn’t hit less than 30 home runs in a season and outside of 2010 (83), he has never drove in less than 100 RBI.

He and Cabrera now make a dangerous duo in the middle of Detroit’s lineup. Cabrera drove in 105 RBI last season while belting 48 home runs and hitting .344. The addition of Fielder eases a lot of doubt created by the loss of Victor Martinez, who suffered a torn ACL during winter conditioning and could miss the entire 2012 season.

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Nelson Cruz pounds the Tigers for ALCS win

Texas Rangers Nelson Cruz celebrates his seventh inning home run against the Detroit Tigers in game six of the ALCS at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 15, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. Crux had six homers and 13 RBIs in the series. The Rangers won the series 4-2 and will play the winner of the NLCS in the World Series. UPI/Ian Halperin

The Texas Rangers are returning to the World Series after a 15-5 thumping of the Detroit Tigers to win the ALCS by four games to two. Nelson Cruz was a beast in the series, pounding out six home runs and 13 RBIs against Tiger pitching. Cruz hit 29 home runs in the regular season in 475 at bats.

The Rangers will now play the winner of the NLCS between the Cardinals and the Brewers. The Cards are leading the series 3-2 with Game 6 coming tonight in Milwaukee. The Rangers have never won a World Series.

Meanwhile, the Tigers had a great season but had no answer for the Rangers lineup. Justin Verlander wasn’t dominant in the post-season, but at least he did his job.

Sabathia vs Verlander tonight

New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia waits to catch fly balls during workout day before their MLB American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers begins at Yankee Stadium in New York, September 29, 2011. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Baseball fans are still buzzing over the stunning ending to the Wild Card races, and now we have a marquee pitching match-up to kick off the series between the Yankees and Tigers.

C.C. Sabathia has had his troubles in the post-season, though he did lead the Yankees to a World Series title. Meanwhile, Justin Verlander has had one of the most dominant seasons in recent memory. Let’s see who rises to the occasion . . .

MLB Playoff predictions from the guy who said the Red Sox would win the World Series

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay (L) and catcher Carlos Ruiz celebrate after Halladay’s no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the MLB National League Division Series baseball playoffs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 6, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASEBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

My 2011 MLB season predictions were a little off this year.

I said the A’s would win the AL West and they actually finished 22 games out of first.

I said the White Sox would win the AL Central and they just traded their manager to another team, which sums up how well they did this year.

I said the Giants would repeat as National League champions and in doing so I cursed Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Freddy Sanchez and the 900 other players they placed on the DL this season.

I had the Braves winning the NL Wild Card and we all know how that turned out. Yiiiiiikes.

While I did have the Phillies winning the NL East and the Yankees making the postseason as the AL Wild Card, those were gimmies. My only claim to fame was predicting the Brewers to win the NL Central, although when you have the Red Sox winning the World Series and they don’t even make the postseason you have no right to brag about anything.

So if you’re offended by my postseason predictions below, don’t be. Chances are I’ll be wrong anyway.

ALDS: Yankees over Tigers.
I don’t trust the Yankees’ pitching but I trust it more than I trust Doug Fister. Justin Verlander was the best pitcher in the American League this season but he’s had a knack for coming up short on the road throughout the years. Knowing the Yankees they’ll be down in every game of this series and figure out some way to advance. Derek Jeter will be 16-for-18 with 11 doubles and one game-winning home run or something ridiculous.

NLDS: Phillies over Cardinals.
The Phillies did the Cardinals a favor by beating Atlanta but if I were them, I would have wanted the downtrodden Braves to advance. That team would have just been happy to reach the postseason after a miserable September. Nevertheless, the Phillies’ pitching will dominate the hot-and-cold St. Louis lineup and the Cardinals’ pitching will fail them in Philadelphia. They’ve got Edwin Jackson slated to start Game 2 in that bandbox the Phillies’ call a stadium, which should work out well considering he’s a fly ball pitcher. (Read: sarcasm.)

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Brian Wilson blows another save, seeks revenge on Gatorade cooler

It’s been a rough couple of days for Giants closer Brian Wilson. He blew a 1-0 lead in the ninth on Thursday at Wrigley Field when he fell behind Aramis Ramirez and had to challenge the Cubs’ third baseman with a 3-2 fastball that Ramirez promptly crushed over the leftfield wall. The Cubs went on to win the game in extra innings and the Giants had to settle for a split in the four-game series.

On Friday in Detroit, Wilson was again called upon to save a 1-0 lead and again he mucked things up when he allowed a single to Tigers’ right fielder Magglio Ordonez in the bottom of the eighth. The Giants managed to score three runs in the top of ninth off a wild Detroit bullpen to make it a 4-1 game, but Wilson could only muster one out in the bottom of the inning while jamming the bases and allowing two runs.

When skipper Bruce Bochy pulled him in favor of Jeremy Affeldt, this is what the bearded one did in the dugout:

Wilson also punched a wall (which wasn’t shown in the video), making it one of the better dugout meltdowns I’ve seen in a while.

The Giants eventually hung on to beat the Tigers 4-3 so when reporters approached Wilson in the clubhouse, he was back to being his jovial self. Below is an exert from Giants beat reporter Andrew Baggarly’s blog.

“I’m fine,” he said. “Ask the wall.”

Wilson’s other deadpan gem, after he was asked if it would be difficult to have his Happy Gilmore swing played on a loop on television: “Why would it be difficult?” he said. “I squared it up.”

At least one media member took to Twitter last night to insinuate that Wilson’s freak out was all for the cameras, and maybe it was. But despite his, uh, outgoing personality, Wilson rarely shows emotion on the mound. (Anyone who actually watches the Giants and who doesn’t just insinuate things would know that.) He’s usually cool and collected, but he’s intense and obviously blowing two saves in two days would make any closer a little cranky. As long as he didn’t hurt himself, I think everyone should just enjoy the water cooler beatdown and not look too deep into Wilson’s antics.

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