To the pro-Melky contingent on RAB, our stance on the Yanks’ young center fielder tends to raise some eyebrows. We’ve burned plenty of pixels urging patience when it comes to Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes, but we’re more than ready to send Melky packing.
We aren’t the only Yankee fans ready to wave good bye to Cabrera. In today’s Sun, Steve Goldman pens a piece urging the Yankees to trade Melky sooner rather than later. He writes:
Cabrera is a bundle of contradictions: a functional defensive center fielder with a great arm but unexceptional range; a mostly inoffensive hitter whose hot streaks are outnumbered by deep slumps; a young player with a better future in front of him, but not a great future, and a switch-hitter who has almost no offensive value against left-handed pitchers. Taken together, these competing facets make Cabrera a difficult player to get a fix on.
If you saw him at midsummer last year, when he batted .325 AVG/.375 SLG/.482 OBP from June through August, or this April, when he hit .299/.370/.494 with five home runs, you could have been forgiven for thinking that he had taken a dramatic step forward and was now on his way to becoming a two-way impact player and a 10-year All-Star. If you saw him last April (.200/.238/.213) or September (.180/.236/.220), or this season over the last eight weeks (.231/.280/.308 in 47 games), making outs while attempting to slide into first base, you might be wondering why he’s not been sent to Double A for a refresher course in basic baseball 101.
Unfortunately, the latter Cabrera appears for more often than the former.
That, in essence, is our case against Melky. We were patient with him, but we’ve seen him play now for parts of three seasons in the Bronx. While one might expect a player to get better over time, Melky has, in fact, put up worse numbers in each of his three seasons. As Joe noted early, since his aberrant April, Melky has managed to hit just .231/.280/.308 in nearly 200 plate appearances. If the young pitchers aren’t showing signs of improvement after such an extended look, well, then their supporters and the Yanks will just have to move on.
However, I have a bone to pick with Goldman’s piece. The Pinstripe Bible scribe believes that the Yanks should attempt to package Melky for some pitching come the trade deadline. In principle, I agree, but now does not strike me as the time to trade Melky. With this two-month slump fresh in everyone’s mind, Melky’s stock as at a near-low. The Yanks should have attempted to move Melky last winter when teams were still interested. Now, they’re somewhat stuck with him unless they want to sell low.
So the team finds itself in something of a Catch-22. They shouldn’t be playing Melky because he’s not producing, but if they want to move him, they need to play him in the hopes that he can catch fire for three weeks and raise his trade value. Perhaps in three weeks, we’ll be singing a different tune, but if the Yanks want to get a return on Melky — or see if he actually improves — they’ll have to hold him for now.