Amazing how many fans are in apoplexy regarding the trading of Melky Cabrera. Don’t get me wrong. I like Melky. I supported him after the infamous misplay and inside-the-park HR up in Fenway when he was first brought up in 2005.
But Melky isn’t a star. Trading him for a pitcher (albeit a .500 pitcher) who will be your 4th starter and who will give you 200 IP and 200K (and also keep either Hughes or Joba in the bullpen) is a no-brainer. Sometimes we love our own too much. I wonder what the people screaming about Melky being dealt were saying in the summer of 2008 when Melky was sent down to the minors?
Yes, the Melkman has time to develop. He’s still just 25. I feel though, that what you see will be what you’ll get. He hit a career high 13 HR last year—nine at Yankee Stadium. Did you ever expect 20 out of him? I don’t see it. I see him possibly never hitting 13 again. He had 68 RBI in 2009, 73 in 2007 but I don’t see him as one of those outfielders who will give you 80 RBI in a season. Defensively, he is good, not great. A good arm. He has some speed, but not as much as say, Gardner. Melky’s high in steals is just 13.
Maybe one day the Melkman can hit .300. In three of his four full seasons he has been between .273 and .280. He had one bad year (2008) of .249. So .275 is more like it (career .269).
The truth is, Melky’s 162 g. average is .269-10-65 with 13 SB. OPS+ 88. In his four full seasons, 2006-2009, Melky’s OPS+ has been 95-88-68-99. 20 HR guy? No. 20 SB guy? No. Even if we discard the poor 2008, a slightly below average OPS+, mid-90s. A nice little OF, probably best as a 4th OF. But nothing spectacular, and not worth crying over.
Maybe the Melkman develops further, but I don’t see it.
Meanwhile, the vitriol I see sometimes toward Brett Gardner, I wonder about. Some people want to praise Melky as an All-Star (he isn’t) but think Gardner is terrible (he isn’t). Gardner isn’t an all-star, but he isn’t terrible, either. No, he won’t even match Melky in HR or RBI, but he did steal twice as many bases as the Melkman while having an OPS+ almost as good. Gardner, 26, had a 93 OPS+ last year—look up above. What, approximately, is Melky’s typical OPS+
? 88 for his career, 94 if you take away the poor 2008. So Gardner’s OPS+ last year, while below Melky’s, was basically the same as a typical Melky year.
Gardner does have to hit a bit more. He did hit .270 last year. He did steal 26 bases compared to Melky’s 10. Gardner has just 375 AB (425 P/A) in his MLB career—less than a full season. The BA is just .256, OPS+ 80, but 39 SB in 45 attempts. If he can hit .280 and have an OPS+ in the mid-90s (Melky-ish), Gardner, over a full season with 450 AB, could have 40 SB. Yes, the HR will not be 10 as Melky might get (more like 3) and the RBI more like 40-45 rather than Melky’s 60. Defensively, Gardner is faster. Melky may have the better arm, but Gardner charges the ball and gets to it quicker. Melky has made some great plays…so has Gardner. Think of some Gardner made this year. You can start with the one in WS Game 5.
In short, the people praising Melky are putting him too high. Likewise, the people bashing Gardner are putting him too low. As I have stated many times, this isn’t beer-league softball. You need a mixture—speed and defense besides power. Otherwise you may as well put nine Jason Giambi’s in the lineup. Yes, Gardner won’t hit 10 HR or knock in 70, but there are aspects to the game that people seem to have forgotten about—speed and defense. Or maybe they only remember that when they (cough, cough) see Sheffield trying to play 1B in the postseason.
To these people: Melky and Gardner are more similar (albeit in different ways) than you think. Melky has a little pop but not that much, while Gardner has the speed. If both hit .275, and have the same AB, say 8 HR, 55-60 RBI for Melky; 3 HR, 42 RBI Gardner. 12 SB Melky. 36 for Gardner. It depends what you want. On the basepaths, Gardner is far more disruptive than the Melkman.
Add this log to the hot stove fire:I saw some names listed at the LoHud blog. Each has plusses and minuses but fit the cheap LF that Cashman appears to be looking for. Reed Johnson (who it seems, LoHud thinks will be the eventual LF), Johnny Gomes, and Xavier Nady.
Nady (31) we know about. The two surgeries. We don’t know how he’ll come back or if he can throw well enough for the OF again. He has no bargaining leverage. 162 game average of .280-21-78, OPS+ 108. 34 walks. 107 K. In his last full season (2008, Pit/NYY) Nady hit a combined .305-25-97, OPS+ 127.
Reed Johnson (33) can play all 3 OF positions, the only one who can (and I’ll give another name soon). He can hit lefties well. 162 game average of .282-11-63. Melky-like. OPS+ 95, average Melky-year (although Melky is 88 due to 2008). About 7 SB, a bit less than Melky. He seems more like a platoon guy (with Gardner?) than a regular, but…
As for Gomes (29) I wonder about his D in LF. .241 with a career OPS+ of 109. 162 game average of .241-27-74 and a righty bat. 10 SB in the 162 game average but 56 walks and 157 Ks. Lots of whiffs, low BA. He did hit 20 HR in a season three times. As a righty (like Reed Johnson) a platoon of him with Gardner is possible.
Names LoHud didn’t mention but I will are these: Jack Cust (31 in Jan). Cust was non-tendered and I believe is available. He is a lefty slugger though, which would relegate Gardner to 4th OF/Def. replacement/PR. As with Gomes, Cust’s D in LF worries me. His numbers:
.239 career BA but an OPS+ of 121. 162 game average .239-29-82. Yankee Stadium may be a good fit for the lefty hitter. The BA is low, but his 162 game average shows 110 walks (great!) and 200 whiffs. Yes, 200. Not so great.
I mention Cust (and others) not to promote them but to give their numbers and to say that besides Reed Johnson and Gomes, that they are also out there as the possible cheap alternative in LF that Cashman seems to be looking for. Holliday, Bay and Damon are apparently out of bounds, DeRosa seems to be SF-bound. Is Marlon Byrd too expensive? So, Reed Johnson…Gomes, Cust… who else? Hairston coming back? Um…I don’t think it’ll be Hinske, as we’ve seen some of his LF “work.”
Sam Borden had a link to a site with free agent OFs. Here are more.
Garrett Anderson? Too old. Fading. Never walks. Rick Ankiel (30)? Now there’s a thought. Maybe he could be the lefty reliever we are looking for. (Just kidding). No doubt an arm in the OF. Has some pop.
Frank Catalanotto. 35. .292 career average. Seems to me would need to be platooned or a bench player. OPS+ 108.
Austin Kearns, 29, is coming off two bad years with the Nats and would have to take a huge cut from the $8M he made in 2009. .256 career, OPS+ 104. 162 game average, .256-20-81, 74 walks, 131 K. Righty hitter. Mostly RF, not much LF or CF. Doesn’t look good.
Marcus Thames is a righty bat. Career. 243, 104 OPS+. 162 game average .243-31-81, 42 walks 134 K. Seems a platoon type. Like Gomes and Cust, has pop, low BA. Of the three, Cust draws the most walks (and K’s the most).
Randy Winn. 35 and hit just 2 HR last year. Dye? Too old, and hasn’t played too much LF. Seems a DH now.
Your guess is as good as mine. If someone was missed, throw out a name and we will see and discuss.