Over on his blog, Rob Neyer discusses the Tigers’ decision to have Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Guillen switch positions, with Cabrera moving to first base and Guillen moving to third. Among other things, Neyer had this to say:
Presumably, at some point Leyland or someone else connected with management will favor us with the rationale here. This is definitely a bit strange, considering the Tigers had all winter to figure out who should play where, decided on Cabrera at third base and Guillen at first base, and now they’ve reversed course barely three weeks into the season.
They may favor us with some rationale, but they may not be totally forthcoming, because I suspect the truth has some version of this: “Well, we didn’t want to switch Cabrera’s position before we signed him to a long-term contract, because we didn’t want to do anything to rock the boat.” It seems likely to me that this move is coming as soon after the contract as possible without everyone knowing exactly what was going on.
Neyer also has concerns about Guillen and Cabrera both learning new positions on the job, but I don’t think it’s a big issue. Guillen was a decent shortstop, which should make his transition to third easier. At any rate, he will immediately be better at third than Cabrera. And that upgrade at third should more than make up for any downgrade they get by switching to Cabrera at first.