Melky Cabrera is the San Francisco Giants' best outfielder, and he is also healthy, and he is also not playing in the 2012 World Series. His particularly messy steroids bust and the Giants' inconsistently applied moral fortitude on the issue are the reasons behind his absence, which means that he'll be a very interesting free agency candidate in the offseason. Hey, remember when the St. Louis Cardinals were down to Skip Schumaker and Shane Robinson as their backup outfielders? Like, earlier this week?
I don't really care about steroids either way, so this is easy for me to say. But Cabrera, who has proven to be a capable center fielder and a league-average hitter when he's not fat, is a great gamble for any team that thinks steroids aren't entirely to blame for his .322/.360/.489 line across his last 268 games.
And to be honest, I think every team should not think that. If steroids were all it took to turn a .255/.317/.354 hitter into a .322 hitter and occasional batting champion, everybody would be using steroids. I would, certainly—it might have turned me from a .035 hitter as a nine-year-old into a .200 hitter as a nine-year-old.
At his worst, Melky Cabrera was basically Shane Robinson. At his best, he's—I don't know, an outfielding Mike Sweeney? That's the kind of risk the Cardinals, strapped for cash in the offseason unless Bill DeWitt ups payroll, are going to have to take.