Cabrera too valuable to lose for good

I almost jumped the gun on putting pen to paper – actually in the 21st century, it’s finger to keyboard – more than a month ago with what the Detroit Tigers should do about reigning American League Most Valuable Player Miguel Cabrera.

As fellow Journal sportswriter Craig Remsburg detailed in one of his Sunday columns a few weeks ago, Cabrera is having an even better season than he did when he won the Triple Crown in 2012.

And it’s for that reason I think the Tigers should sit Cabrera for awhile, or at the very least limit his playing time to only critical, late-game at-bats. I wouldn’t mind seeing him put on the 15-day disabled list.

The past couple of games, manager Jim Leyland has had to sit Cabrera due to strained abdominal muscles.

Back in late July when Cabrera was first injured, I thought the team should let him heal away from the field. Instead, the Tiger braintrust led by Leyland kept playing him, often for full games, at third base.

And what did he do? Just kept the Tigers around in a number of games and outright won a bunch of others with his bat.

Lucky for me, I never got around to writing what I thought, because I would’ve been dead wrong.

I readily admit that if Cabrera hadn’t played at all during the past five or six weeks, the Tigers would assuredly not be in first place. In fact, they might not even be in second place. He’s been that valuable, even though he can barely leg out a single on drives to the outfield gap.

But it’s that value that worries me now. Big time.

I don’t think it’s any great coincidence that Cabrera has been fighting a whole myriad of injuries to his abs, knee, ankle, whatever.

Once you get one spot on your body hurting, you can’t help but favor it, putting everything out of whack, leaving you vulnerable to more injuries.

And as much as I’d like to see the Tigers blow the rest of the AL out of the water during the September stretch run, it’s much more important to have Cabrera as close to 100 percent as possible for the last week of the regular season and into the playoffs.

Look at it this way – if the Tigers need Cabrera to win enough games to hold off Cleveland and Kansas City, if they need him in there to win home-field advantage in the AL playoffs, then what chance are they going to have against Boston, Tampa Bay, Texas or Oakland at playoff time, let alone whoever comes out of the National League if the Tigers are fortunate to repeat their appearance in the World Series?

I have been wondering if there’s a parallel with Justin Verlander, who has been throwing 120 and 130 pitches in a lot of games for several years now.

He’s struggling this year just to stay above .500, and while a lack of control has contributed to it, I’ve heard Fox Sports Detroit, ESPN and Major League Network analysts all say his fastball velocity is off several miles per hour.

Can you say tired arm?

I just hope Cabrera doesn’t have the batting version of it by the time the postseason rolls around, with him looking like a geriatric case just when he’s needed most.

I love my parents, aunts and uncles who are all in their 70s, 80s and 90s, but just not to represent my favorite Major League baseball franchise.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is sbrownlee@