Jose Iglesias as this year's Orlando Cabrera

Duane Burleson

Several years ago I thought I invented the word "gawkward." It's a portmanteau of gawky and awkward. I know, pretty great, right? But it turns out several thousand other people had the same idea, and instead of living a life of leisure in a large house with a staff like all the other people who invent words, I have to write about baseball on the internet and live in my grandma's shed with her three dogs.

Anyway, I had what I think is an original thought about the Jose Iglesias trade, and a cursory Google search confirms I'm first, so ... At the 2004 trade deadline, the Red Sox found themselves 8½ games behind the Yankees in the East, and a game behind Texas in the Wild Card race. Despite an absolutely stacked lineup and rotation, the Sox were treading water, winning fewer than half their games over June and July. As the deadline loomed, the front office looked for ways to improve the team. But where to improve? The offense, featuring Manny Ramirez, David Ortíz, Trot Nixon, and Johnny Damon, could hardly be better. The bullpen, much maligned the year before, had been strengthened by the signing of Keith Foulke in the offseason. And the rotation was Curt Schilling, Pedro Martínez, Bronson Arroyo, Tim Wakefield, and Derek Lowe. It was a great team on paper. They just weren't winning.

It was decided, and I think I'm remembering this correctly, that another arm or bat would only marginally help the Red Sox. Boston's real weakness was defense. An upgrade at a key position could drastically improve the team beyond the margin. And so, in a blockbuster four-team trade on July 31st, the Sox traded away Nomar Garciaparra, whose various leg injuries had severely hampered him in the field, and acquired shortstop Orlando Cabrera and first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, both known for their gloves.

It was little reported at the time that Cabrera, according to Bill James' recently released Win Shares, was coming off the best defensive season in the history of baseball. Before Defensive Runs Saved and FIELDf/x, Win Shares represented the state of the art in fielding evaluation, and although I'm not sure anyone in Boston's front office, including James, actually believed Orlando Cabrera was the greatest shortstop of all time, they certainly thought he would easily outperform a hobbled Garciaparra in the field.

Eighty-eight days later, the Red Sox won the World Series.

/wait for gasps to die down

This year's model out of Detroit is similarly well-apportioned in the lineup and rotation, but the team's defense, especially the infield, is prett-ay, prett-ay, prett-ay bad. Like Orlando Cabrera nine years ago, Iglesias might improve his new team more than another bat or superfluous rotation arm. Surely Rick Porcello and Doug Fister, groundball pitchers both, will appreciate Iglesias' glove.

They needn't worry about making the playoffs, but if history repeats itself, an all-field, no-hit shortstop acquired at the trade deadline could make a vast difference in the fortunes of the Tigers come October.

Or not, I don't know. Maybe they'll waste Iglesias at third and get bounced out of the first round. I'm not Nostradamus.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.