Well, the collective you must be wondering what happened to Melky Cabrera and River Ave. Blues. After an off-season in which we seemingly took turns expressing our doubts of Melky, we cooled the Cabrera criticism for the last few weeks.
Worry not; Melky — and the Yanks’ center field spot — is back in the news. This time, we’re not the only ones noting some doubts over the long-term viability of Melky Cabrera. In a PeteAbe piece, Brian Cashman notes that Melky doesn’t have a center field stranglehold:
But while general manager Brian Cashman has locked second baseman Robinson Cano into a long-term contract and has staked his own reputation on the abilities of young pitchers Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, he’s not yet prepared to invest as heavily in the 23-year-old Cabrera. “Melky has to fight for what he has,” Cashman said. “I can’t stand here and tell you he’s going to be our center fielder moving forward. That’s up to him.”
Cabrera hit .273 with eight homers and 73 RBI last season, taking over for Damon in early June. But there were concerns. Cabrera hit .180 in September before going 3-for-16 in the division series against Cleveland. His on-base percentage fell from .360 in 2006 to .327 last season…
It wouldn’t be wise to get comfortable. In 24-year-old Brett Gardner and 21-year-old Austin Jackson, the Yankees have one player on the verge of being ready for the majors and another who is moving quickly in that direction.
While Gardner is less of a threat to Melky than Austin Jackson is, the Melk Man is right to work hard for that spot. Prospects are a-knockin’.
But despair not, Melky Lovers. As E.J. Fagan noted at Pending Pinstripes, Melky’s PECOTA comparables are promising. E.J., urging as to wait another season before passing judgment, notes that Carlos Beltran and Bernie Williams, to name a few, are high on the list of comparables to the young Mr. Cabrera. While much of that has to do with the fact that Beltran and Williams are two of the few outfielders to break into the Majors at such a young age as Melky did, Cabrera could develop into a top-flight player. We just don’t quite see it yet.
Feel free to hate away on our Melky hating. Much like Brian Cashman, we too are expecting Melky to fight for what he currently has and hopefully improve in the process.