Just three weeks into the season — or perhaps sooner — Jim Leyland realized that Miguel Cabrera was no Brandon Inge at third base and, at the same time, knew that Carlos Guillen was not Sean Casey at first.
So what do you do when you have to immovable objects on the corners of your infield? Swap ’em, of course.
On April 22, Leyland announced the switcheroo (“I’m telling you all now so you won’t be surprised tomorrow. I’m not going to take any questions about it because that’s what we’re doing.”) and it was the first sign that a team with four designated hitters was in deep trouble.
Cabrera was flashing a cast-iron glove at third — five errors in just 14 games; .900 fielding percentage — but proved to be more than serviceable at first base (.992 and 9 errors in 143 games). In fact, I’d go so far as to say he’s going to be a decent first baseman.
He came to Detroit billed as the long-term solution at third and in that regard he was a bust. But, man, can he hit.