San Francisco Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera has been suspended 50 games for testing positive for testosterone. This shocker drops with only 45 games left in the regular season. So Cabrera will only be able to return should the Giants make it past the first round of the playoffs.
Giants left fielder and PED's? The team has been down this road before, but expect things to be different this time. The Giants should be no-nonsense about this. Cabrera is the second Giants player to be suspended for PEDs this season (Reliever Guillermo Mota is eligible to return in a few weeks). Cabrera has been hitting around .350 all season, was an All-Star, was All-Star MVP, but cheated. The drugs may be a reason for Cabrera's meteoric rise to the elite in baseball over the last two seasons.
Cabrera owned up to cheating, releasing the following statement: "My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used. I accept my suspension under the Joint Drug Program and I will try to move on with my life. I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my teammates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down."
Though he gets credit for owning up to it, it doesn't change how dumb this was. Yes, PEDs can help a player reach "that next level" and get them the big contract, but Cabrera was in the middle of a playoff race. He knows darn well that the league is constantly testing player. So why would he bother drugging up? Not only did he let himself down, he let down the entire organization, more specifically his teammates. He was a key piece to the team, and because of a stupid decision, their chances of reaching the playoffs have dropped a fair amount.
Fans are left to wonder what will be of the Giants without the "MelkMan." Cabrera has been a fixture in left, providing the offense with much needed hitting while also providing stellar defense. Cabrera and the Giants were in negotiating an extension in the past few weeks. It seems like any offer the Giants had made would be off the table now. The only way it looks like he'll be back in San Francisco is if he somehow proves he's turned a corner and is willing to sign another inexpensive one-year-deal to "re-establish" himself and try to rebuild his value. Should the Giants bring him back, he could become a bargain once again, or could prove to be a total flop.
Cabrera's loss is detrimental to the team, but this is still a playoff-caliber roster. Hunter Pence should help pick-up some of the offensive slack left by Cabrera. Pablo Sandoval was just activated from the DL and will need to stay healthy and productive for the remainder of the season. Buster Posey will have to continue to shoulder the load on offense. And then the Giants will need contributions from the rest of the lineup. With one of the best rotations in baseball coupled with timely hitting, the Giants are still a team that can compete until game 162. They won a World Series because the offense got hot and the pitching was great, something they could do once again. But what seemed to be a relatively sure bet is now a big question mark. Unfortunately, question marks are all too familiar for the Giants.