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Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon: Will Their Absences Be Amplified Down the Stretch?

Associated Press It has been a couple of weeks since Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon were sus...

Associated Press
It has been a couple of weeks since Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon were suspended for taking Performance Enhancing Drugs, but their respective teams have thrived since receiving the bad news.

The San Francisco Giants are 12-5 since losing their star outfielder, while the Oakland A’s are 10-1 since losing arguably one of the best pitchers on their staff.

It’s safe to say that both clubs have put negative news behind them, and are focused on making the playoffs. However, just because both teams have found success in the wake of the suspensions, doesn’t mean that they won’t feel the effect down the stretch drive.

The Giants clearly lost more than the A’s. They lost an everyday player, as opposed to a player who can make an impact every five days and is older and injury prone. When Cabrera was suspended he led baseball in the hits department, and was among the top five in batting average.

Now, he leads the National League in batting average (.346), and yes, he can still win that honor despite the suspension. But Cabrera was a fixture in the Giants’ lineup. When the team was struggling, he seem to continuously spark them with one big hit after another.

And once San Francisco acquired Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies, their three through six batters were seen as a legitimate powerhouse. But only for one game did they have all four hitters intact.

The truth of the matter is that Cabrera cannot be replaced in the Giants lineup this year. He owned a 4.5 WAR at the time he was suspended, and that type of figure is nearly impossible to fill even if the Giants could acquire anyone they wanted by the way of trade. That’s how good of a season he was having.

With that said, left field has been a consistent problem. Gregor Blanco has received the majority of the playing time, but he can’t be trusted with the bat. Justin Christian fits the same bill as Blanco in that he can play stellar defense, but he’s almost nonexistent on offense.

This leaves skipper Bruce Bochy with minimal options. But the latest of the candidates to be the permanent replacement for the remainder of the season is Xavier Nady. So far, he might be “that” guy. He’s 4 for 6 in a Giants’ uniform, including three RBIs. He might be a bit wobbly on defense, but his offensive makes up for that.

But even if the Giants have found their replacement in Nady, nothing can still match what Cabrera brought to the table daily. The Giants might be lucky to catch lightening in a bottle, but Nady is far from a sure thing.

For the A’s, the loss of Colon isn’t and hasn’t been an easy pill to swallow. Some don’t realize what type of season he was in the midst of before getting the plug pulled. At the time of the suspension, he led the A’s starting staff in wins (10), innings pitched (152.1), and ERA (3.43).

More importantly, he was the lone veteran on a young A’s starting rotation. To say that experience doesn’t matter is a false setiment, especially in Oakland’s case. To put things into perspective, Jarrod Parker, A.J. Griffin, Tommy Milone and Dan Straily are all younger than 26 while Colon is 39 years-old.

Add the newly reinstated Brett Anderson into the mix whose only 24, and you have a seriously young staff. The next oldest pitcher behind Colon is Travis Blackley whose 29. That’s a ten year separation for those who failed math class.

While the young pups might be getting the job done now, at least one veteran is a must. That statement is even more true if the A’s reach the playoffs. Because realistically, Parker would start game one of any series, and he’s only 23 years-old. A smart move? It’s definitely risky.

In all reality, the A’s are going to have to roll with what they have. The waiver-wire trade deadline has passed, and there are no options at this point, or at least any alternatives that could be put on the playoff roster.

However, the reputation of both teams is now damaged for good. This holds more true for the Giants, who are known for a previous steroids scandal, but are still a class-act organization.

Yes, I’m talking about Barry Bonds. Now you can add Cabrera to the PEDs list. The fact that Cabrera created a fake website in attempt to fool Major League baseball makes the Giants look even more foolish, and ultimately seals the deal that Cabrera will never wear the orange and black again.

In addition, any success that San Francisco experiences, whether it be winning the pennant or even the World Series, is going to be questioned.

Would the Giants have won that trophy without Melky Cabrera leading them though the first half? That’s a question that will be pondered upon for some time should San Francisco do any damage in the playoffs. The same holds true for the A’s, but to a far lesser extent.

But both teams must move on, and they have. The suspensions seemingly have brought both teams together, and if the playoffs started today, both teams would be in the playoffs.

Could I say the same thing in a couple of weeks or so?

Only time will tell.

This article was originally published at MLB Reports.  

MLB Reports is a partner of FootBasket. You can see more about them at their website. Follow them on Twitter @MLBReports

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