Cabrera anchored the middle infield for the Angels in 2005, on a team that lost to the White Sox in the American League Championship Series. He returned to the playoffs last year with the Angels for a first-round exit against the Red Sox.
He also was the shortstop for the historic Boston title run in 2004. The veteran leader knows a thing or two about playoff-caliber teams, making him a good source to turn to regarding what he has seen from the White Sox during the exciting first week of the 2008 season.
"I really like a lot of things I've been seeing," said the White Sox shortstop of his 4-2 team entering Monday's home opener against the Twins. "The fight and the energy, how we are not giving up, I love that.
"Every winning team has to have that. When you show that intensity and energy, it will tell you a lot about how the season is going to go."
As manager Ozzie Guillen pointed out during his pregame press conference Monday, Cabrera does not put himself out there as a vocal leader. His volume gets turned up through actions on the field, and those actions are not always about quantity as much as quality.
His average stood at .174 for Monday's home opener, yet it was Cabrera who delivered a bases-clearing double to finish off a deciding six-run sixth during Sunday's 13-2 victory over the Tigers. Cabrera also had an assist in three of the White Sox five double plays on Sunday, which allowed them to bend but never break against winless Detroit. He also started a key double play to end Minnesota's first-inning rally Monday.
"I'm sure last year, this team beat themselves a lot," said Cabrera of the 72-90 White Sox, one year removed. "That's one of the key reasons why I was brought here. I hate to beat myself on the field. You have to be almost perfect to give the team a chance to win."
"When he's taking the field, he wants everyone to do well in the game," added Guillen. "He won't be 0-for-4 and sit down and mope and cry. He will help his teammates and make them get better."
Adding Cabrera has been discussed frequently as not a White Sox desire to upgrade over Juan Uribe at shortstop, but to bring in a player who has a winning clubhouse fit. That theory rings true for Nick Swisher as well, which helps to explain, in part, how Cabrera has played for so many winners in the past and seems to be part of one again at the season's outset.
"Looking back, it took me a while to figure out that it was more than just throwing enough talent at the wall to put together a championship team," said White Sox general manager Ken Williams, speaking in broader strokes of players such as Cabrera. "Once we finally figured it out, and figured out what ways we needed to go, with the big thing being guys that have a Chicago toughness to them.
"You have to have that type of player come in here, otherwise you're not going to get to where you want to get to. We've had success at bringing these kinds of guys in, and hopefully at the end of the season, we'll find out that this team is one of them."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.