A name that's been forgotten has been starting most of the games at shortstop for the Padres lately. Everth Cabrera, who looked like he was on his way to a successful big-league career in 2009, has dealt with injuries and unproductive at-bats for the past two seasons, but looks like he's back in 2012. The question is whether or not you should care.
On the surface, his .255/.342/.361 2009 doesn't look that impressive. But he was just 22 years old, and to that point, the Rule 5 selection had never played at a level more advanced than High-A. It was quite the jump to plop him in the majors, but he produced better than could be expected given those circumstances.
He was lost in 2010, though, and 2011 was something of a lost season thanks to a run of injuries. Now 25 and healthier than he's been since 2009, Cabrera has been producing. He hit .333/.389/.410 for Triple-A Tucson in 159 plate appearances, after a .297/.370/.402 showing there in 2011. He hasn't been perfect with San Diego, but since his recall in mid-May, the shortstop is at .250/.333/.417, displaying some patience and a little bit of pop.
He'll never produce huge numbers given his home games come in Petco, but a 750 OPS and nine stolen bases in nine chances is still an alluring set of numbers for a shortstop. He's also likely to be eligible elsewhere in the infield as the season progresses, giving you something of a utility player who can steal some bases.
The season is young, and Cabrera has quite a bit of failure on his resume. As stated, though, time he should have spent developing in the minors instead saw him thrust into big-league action, and failing that, he was missing time. But if he can stay healthy, the Padres are going to let him keep playing at shortstop. The team is in a transition phase, and they're getting players like Orlando Hudson (already released) and Jason Bartlett out of the picture in order to see what they have in some of their younger question marks. Cabrera fits into that latter group, and while he's been a disappointment the last two years, things seem to be aligning for him in 2012.
In the last 28 days, Cabrera is the 52nd most-productive player in fantasy, according to CBS. The steals are a huge part of it, but the 11 extra-base hits help plenty, too. He might not be that kind of shortstop all season, but even if he sticks around his season line, there's plenty to like here given the position.
He's not owned much yet -- just 15 percent in CBS, and 8 percent at ESPN -- but people are starting to notice him, especially as he plays more and more. Grab him while you still can if you need a hand at shortstop -- if he's just okay, but steals some bases, that's not a bad use of your shortstop position.