Johnny, Melky hope September slumps end in October


The calendar has flipped from September to October, and while the playoffs aren’t quite here, everyone can feel it. These last three games won’t mean much, except maybe to CC Sabathia, who tries for his 20th win tonight. The rest is just a tune-up. But for two Yankees, it will be about setting a tone for the new month, the one that, for the Yankees and their championship-focused mentality, is all that matters.

Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera have been slumping of late. That’s fine. The Yankees had matters pretty well at hand coming into September, so to have two-thirds of their outfield struggling wasn’t the worst thing in the world. As we like to say when players slump, better now than in the playoffs. Players streak and players slump. Neither lasts forever, which is why it’s perfectly fine that both have had their struggles in September.

Of the two, Johnny’s has been worse, if only because he’s a more important piece than Melky. While he’s still getting on base — a .347 OBP on the strength of 14 walks — Damon has seemingly lost the power stroke that made him a Yankee hero earlier this season. He has only four extra base hits in 96 September plate appearances, all doubles. Even worse, he has just 19 hits, making a slash line of .235/.347/.284.

It could be that Damon, who will turn 36 in November, is breaking down in his old age. But given the amount of rest Girardi has provided him, that seems unlikely. Damon has appeared in just 22 September games, starting only 20. He’s had two two-day breaks in the past 11, so there’s no doubt he’s as well rested as he’s been at this point. In that 11 game span, by the way, Damon is hitting .083/.267/.083. From September 1 through 19, he hit .298/.385/.368, so there was only a loss of power. There doesn’t appear to be any reason to think Damon will continue this slide.

Melky’s slump is less pronounced than Damons, but that’s because Melky has a lower baseline. In September he’s hitting .287/.361/.414, which is actually pretty good. In fact, if the Yankees could get Melky to hit that way consistently, he could definitely man center field. The problem, as with Damon, is his play of late.

We last wrote about Melky on September 8. He had just gone 3 for 4 with two RBI in the second game of the Tampa Bay doubleheader, in which he went 4 for 7 with a walk overall. Since our previous criticism, on August 19th, Melky had hit .348/.392/.464. But, just like every other time we criticize Melky, he turned it around. From the 8th through the 30th, Melky’s hitting .214/.302/.321.

Some players are going to slump in October. It’s just part of the game. If Melky continues hitting poorly, well, the Yanks just have to accept that. Thankfully, they can use Brett Gardner and have his speed in the lineup. But the Yankees can ill-afford to have Damon’s woes continue into the cool October nights. Unfortunately, there’s not much Girardi can do, other than to play Damon all three games this weekend and hope he hits a rhythm. He’ll have plenty of time to rest on Monday and Tuesday.

Categories : Offense
  • putt

    If Damon and Melky aren’t hitting, things could get kinda ugly in games when AJ pitches and Molina catches him. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that these three games do the trick for at least Damon.

    • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

      Jose Molina is not catching A.J. Burnett in the postseason.

      • putt

        I thought I read the other day that he would be…this news makes me feel better.

        • http://twitter.com/JamalG_BB Jamal G.

          Unless I’m unaware, what you read was more about people speculating that Molina might catch Burnett because of Burnett’s results in his previous five starts with the former behind the plate.

          Now, there were very valid reasons why Jorge Posada was not catching in each of those five games, but I don’t think anyone definitively came out and said that Molina will be catching Burnett in the postseason.

          • Bo

            You really think that Girardi will sit Posada in the post season? Really?

      • JMK aka The Overshare

        If C-Grand and the rest of the Tigers hit AJ, it will be Posada’s fault!

        • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew


          • JMK aka The Overshare


    • Free Mike Vick

      if Jose Molina is the starting catcher in game 2 of the ALDS next friday night someone needs to be fired……or better yet….someone needs to be killed!

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        I agree.

        Let’s kill Mike Vick.

  • Free Mike Vick

    In my opinion….Johnny Damon is one of the best big game players in baseball right now. He loves to play in big games. I have no doubt when the bell rings on Wednesday…he will be ready to rock and roll!

    melky i’m not so sure about…

    • JMK aka The Overshare

      Damon’s playoff stats through 40 games: .278/.326/.467/.793

      • Free Mike Vick

        HRs in the 2007 ALDS…HR in the Tigers series….constant HRs in Big regular season games..including touching up Daniel Bard in NY. Grand Slam to KILL th yankee dynasty for good.

        the guy loves big games.

        • Chris

          He plays the same no matter what type of game. You just remember the big games.

          • Free Mike Vick

            the big games are all that matter…this is New York my friend.

            • whozat

              You’re immune to reasoning, it’s amazing.

              You: Damon’s awesome in big games.
              JMK: Well, not really…his aggregate post-season numbers are worse than average.
              You: Whatever, there are other big games he was good in during the season, thus he’s a big-game player
              Chris: No…actually he’s just a good player, so he plays well a lot of the time. You just remember the dramatic moments.
              You: Those are all that matter, therefore he’s a big-game player.

              • Free Mike Vick

                oh forgive me for trying to pay a good player a complement by saying he plays well in big games.

                FORGIVE ME MO!

                There are GREAT players that play like crap in big games. Just because a player is a good player doesn’t mean he is automatically going to play well in big games.

            • andrew

              why don’t you sit these next couple plays out?

  • Salty Buggah

    I hope they mash in October

  • Ivan

    What ever you can get out of Melky in october offensively is pretty much gravy.

    Im not too much worried about Damon. I think he’ll eventually he snaps out of it.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

      You’re in store for a lot of gravy, brother. My boy is on a mission to get shit done.

  • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

    I’m a bit confused. Melky is slumping, just not in September, and not in the last 7 days.

    For the last 7 days he’s at 294/368/471.

    In Septemeber you pointed out his line, 287/361/414.

    How did Melky get into the same post as September Damon?(235/347/!284!)

    • Salty Buggah

      RAB is secretly a Melky fan so they want to criticize him so he rakes in October

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

        As much as I’d like to believe it… That’s crazy talk Salty.

    • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

      … hmm, I guess it’s just throw Melk into a negative post when ya can, even if it doesn’t necessarily make sense.

      • the great balboni

        Melky can’t do anything right according to RAB. This dude has been raked over the coals all season long and has had more slump/negative articles, comments, and sentences written about him than any other pinstriper. All he’s done is fight his way on the roster and prove he’s worth the at-bats all season long (not to mention prove the majority of you haters wrong too). I feel like getting on youtube and crying. Leave Melky alone!

        Damon on the other hand has been struggling for quite some time. Read: the whole month, not just a week here or there. And yes, he is breaking down. He’s been breaking down all season. His legs are abandoning him and they’re such a huge part of his game. The legs have been giving up on him have been little by little since we signed him. A game here or there has turned into a steady string of off days.

        Joe rarely ever plays him more than 3 days in a row anymore. And has actually issued at statement at some point confirming it. He’s got the stroke to send balls over the fence at Yankee stadium, but so does everyone who hits lefthanded. He’ll be rested enough to perform but don’t be surprised if he sits a game here or there due to some nagging injury and cold weather as October turns to November.

        Get ‘em a ring, pat him on the ass, and let him walk into the great unknown called free agency come winter time. No more 1 dimensional players!

    • Bo

      You really expect a RAB post not to crap on Melky??

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      I’m sorry that you and everyone else who posted in this part of the thread didn’t get the Melky bit. Just pointing out that we wrote about him, complimenting him, on Setepmber 8, and he’s been slumping since then.

      But, this is to be expected. People like to bash us for our Melky bashing. The cycle will surely continue into next year.

      • the great balboni

        Yeah, but in the same paragraph you reference a previous article from Aug. where you criticized Melky’s play yet again. Damn, wish i had the time to compile some stats on the inordinate number of times you bash Melk for no good reason as opposed to other players. You guys get stats.

        The frustrating thing is that, it’s like what do you want Melky to be? When I see him, I see a guy at 25 who’s shown definite improvement in his plate discipline and pitch selection as is evidenced in really, the best numbers of of his career across the board. At the very least, you guys are consistent in the Melky bashing though.

        To me, the whole article is written wrong. It’s really a tale of two players. In Melky’s case, it appears to be little more than another minor valley in a season full of peaks. Whereas in Damon’s case, it may be the final plunge into the canyon. Let’s face it, he’s on the wrong side of 35 and is admittedly slowing down. He’s constantly exposed in the outfield after back-to-back games and his manager can’t play him everyday for fear his legs finally just give up. But you’d have to respect what Melky has done to ever equate him to the “great” Johnny Damon.

      • http://bronxbaseballdaily.baby-bombers.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/melky-cabrera-317x400.jpg Drew

        I didn’t mean to bash anyone. Just had a hard time drawing a correlation between his numbers and a slump… Especially since he has solid numbers over the past 7 days.

  • Chris

    He has only four extra base hits in 96 September plate appearances, all doubles. Even worse, he has just 19 hits, making a slash line of .235/.347/.284.

    Can we get that YSIII jet stream back?

  • Bo

    Because Damon has had an off few weeks in Sept its now old age catching up to him?? Maybe its just a little slump. Every player goes thru it

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Thanks for not reading the post, Bo.

  • toad

    I don’t think this means Melky is in a slump worth worrying about. From Sep. 8 to 30 Melky had 63 plate appearances. His OBP over that period was 38 points less than where it stood on the 7th. That’s two-thirds of a SE, so if you randomly pick 63 PA’s from Melky’s year there’s a 25% chance they will be that bad or worse.

    In other words, this is well within normal variation and doesn’t predict much of anything going forward.