Last season, I watched Orlando Cabrera play some of the worst baseball I've ever seen. I watched Johnny LeMaster growing up; this was comparable. Part of it had to do with the circumstances -- Cabrera was a completely unnecessary piece acquired for a once-top prospect, which is an easy way to annoy rabid fanboys -- but most of it had to do with baseball. He made awful errors. He couldn't catch pop-ups for some reason. He hit .222/.241/.270, which was bad even for the Giants. It wasn't pretty.
This morning has taught/reminded me two things, then: The first is that not everyone thought Cabrera was a husk of a player. From Tim Brown of Yahoo!:
Orlando Cabrera didn't have to retire. He had a one-year offer from the Braves.
The second is that Cabrera was actually responsible for positive memories with a lot of fans. From Over the Monster:
Cabrera had a fine career, even if it didn't end that way. As karmic retribution for beginning things with eight seasons in Montreal, Cabrera was part of a playoff team six times in his final seven-and-a-half seasons. His .379/.424/.448 ALCS in 2004, where Boston came back from down 3-0 to earn the World Series appearance that helped make Cabrera a cult hero in Red Sox history, was easily his most significant achievement on the game's October stage.
Cabrera had a pretty danged good career, all told. He was probably one of the 100 best shortstops to ever play the game, and he was responsible for ending one of the longest championship droughts in sports history. Not bad work if you can get it. This is your yearly reminder to not judge a player based on the last two months of a long career.