Checking in on Mark Melancon


Twelve months ago, righty reliever Mark Melancon was the sixth best prospect in the Yankees’ farm system (in my opinion, anyway). He had always dominated the minors with a low-90′s fastball and a hammer curveball, but struggled in his various stints with the big league team. In 15 career appearances with the Yankees, he allowed 20 hits and uncharacteristically walked ten in 20.1 IP, allowing 13 runs. Team officials were “always perplexed” by Melancon according to Buster Olney, because his strike-throwing ways never carried over into the big leagues.

The Yankees traded Melancon to Houston at the deadline as part of the Lance Berkman swap last summer, after he’d walked 31 in 56.1 IP at Triple-A. His control issues followed him back to Scranton, but Melancon has thrived in his short time with the Astros though, striking out 28 and walking just nine in 25.1 IP. He’s allowed just four hits and a walk in eight scoreless innings this year, striking out nine with a ground ball rate near 70%. For whatever reason, it just didn’t work in New York, but the Yankees didn’t exactly give Melancon the biggest of leashes either. They had some relief depth and used it to fill another hole. It’s the kind of move you expect a contender to make.

Categories : Asides


  1. mr.jigginz says:

    Good for Mark…I hope he ends up having a great career.

  2. Steve H says:

    I was always pretty bullish on Melancon, but he clearly didn’t impress when he got his (very limited) chance. It was the right move to make, but I do think Melancon will have a pretty solid career.

    • murakami says:


      Getting Berkman for Melancon?? Meaning, just getting RID of Melancon was the RIGHT MOVE??

      Why could we not have used a guy who can get ground balls and strike people out? Mean sinker, nasty change and curve ball. Guy who could be a short or long reliever?

      Girardi set Melancon up to fail. Never gave him an opportunity to succeed and the Yankees made a snap judgement and shipped him out.

      Too much non-thinking acceptance on the boards on what EVER the front office does. Right move to make. Makes zero sense. We gave up on a really good arm to get a short term fix. BAD MOVE. WRONG MOVE.

  3. Melancon and Tabata, two former Yankees doing quite well on their new teams. It’s good to see the club can actually develop prospects despite the hoopla around Phil Hughes.

  4. James Snuka says:

    Adds obligatory Cano reference.

  5. It'sATarp says:

    While it would be nice to have him…but he’s a reliever so it’s not a big loss

  6. Jericho Spade says:

    The prospects are not the problem… the fact that it is NY is part of the problem. The media, win now mentality and fans insanity make it particularly hard for pitchers to develop properly. When they aren’t throwing well, they get sent down or stuck in the bullpen.

    Other markets it is much easier to break pitchers in and get on the job training, while not in a pennant race every year.

    • Jericho Spade says:

      I wish we could send them to Pittsburgh, KC and Houston to play for a year before coming back to NY.

    • murakami says:

      No, the YANKEES are their own problem. The media and fans should not dictate the big club’s patience threshhold with its top prospects.

      We have another chance with Banuelos and Betances. If they’re healthy and stay on schedule they should be entering the rotation at some point next season. If they go the route of Joba, who should be a starter THIS year, then the Yankees screwed up.

    • Jerome S. says:

      There is no validity to this statement, at all.

      • Jericho Spade says:

        Fantastic argument!

        • Jerome S. says:

          I think it’s foolish to claim that NY is harder to deal with than any other market. The lens is bigger, that’s all. The kids who end up on the mound in the Bronx once pitched in front of all their friends at High School, and then pitched for crowds in the thousands in the minors. Alternatively, they pitched in other cities before they came here. To claim that the pressure in NY is tougher than the pressure anywhere else is like trying to discern the difference between Dick Cheney and Darth Vader.

          • Jericho Spade says:

            I never said the pressure is greater. The media market is certainly bigger, but I have no evidence that, that leads to more pressure. Scrutiny, yes.

            All I said was that there is less of a leash. A kid like Melancon, despite great numbers in the minors barely got a chance. When he did it was in a blowout, six days after the last time he pitched. He never got a real shot and I think there is definitely an argument to be made that he lost confidence.

            You can hide bats at the bottom of the lineup, but when a pitcher stinks it is more amplified. Breaking in young starters anywhere is difficult. However, breaking them in on a team with a win now, win always mantra to justify very high ticket prices, on top of a intense media is definitely more challenging.

            When Matusz and Wieters struggled it was breaking in a rookie, when Phil Hughes struggles its oh my god, the yankees can’t develop a pitcher, he is toast. The Joba debate, which was insane regardless of which side you were on, after each appearance. Not to mention Ian Kennedy, who gave one non-chalant answer and was crushed for it.

  7. Kosmo says:

    I seem to recall NY wanted Melancon to alter his pitching style.He often pitched up in the strikezone the Yanks wanted him to pitch down in the zone which screwed up his mechanics.I understand the wisdom in pitching down in the SZ but apparently it didn´t help Melancon at all.

    I thought trading him for Berkman was dumb but I´m sure bloggers will throw all this invaluable info at me telling me how wrong I am and indeed at the time it strengthened the club.NY would have made it to the playoffs with or without Berkman .Yes Berkman did contribute a little in the playoffs.
    NY is slowly giving away talent without getting much in return.
    Visciano,Dunn,Coke,Melancon,Tabata,Jackson,IPK in return Granderson and Marte.

    • You can’t really lump Melancon in with the other guys. He’s a relief arm. Those are so replaceable. The Tabata deal certainly wasn’t a win for the Yanks.

      • Steve H says:

        You actually can lump him in with Dunn (and likely Coke longterm). Vizcaino is still a long ways away. And not only did IPK bring in premium talent, but he likely wasn’t going to be able to succeed in the AL East anyway. The option was to trade him, or keep trying him out and likely just kill his trade value. When trading these guys their needs to be consideration put into value and value to the Yankees. Many of these guys didn’t have a ton of value to them.

        Personally I think the rest of teams in baseball should trade the Yankees good players for garbage, but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen.

      • Kosmo says:

        I disagree .NY is always scrambling around for relievers when they MIGHT have in house answers .
        They sign namebrands like Feliciano and Soriano when a Melancon who was a highly thought of RP prospect are given away.

    • Kosmo says:

      If you look at Melancon´s MILB career it wasn´t until 2010 his walk totals skyrocketed this might be in keeping to Melancon trying to alter his style.

    • V says:

      Serious question: why do you have so much trouble putting spaces after punctuation marks?

    • Rookie says:

      Don’t forget Tyler Clippard.

  8. David says:

    I checked out an Arizona blog last year, had an interview with Melancon. He said the Yankees wanted him to keep the ball down more and they changed his arm angle a little which caused his control problems.

  9. Mark L. says:

    It probably didn’t help that Girardi used him in garbage time after sitting for 5-6 days at a time.

    • When else would he have used him though? It’s not like he pitched well enough to merit higher leverage situations. That’s a double-edged sword, no?

      • Kosmo says:

        For that matter neither did Chan Ho Park .

      • Mark L. says:

        Either give him more frequent use or put him in high-pressure, late-inning situations until he fails. No point in bringing him up if he’s going to be sitting for a week and then dropped into the 4th inning of a game we’re losing by 7. If he walks a couple of guys, you exile him for another week, no way to improve.

  10. Urban says:

    Prospects are a tricky business when it comes to fans. They demand that all prospects traded away turn into busts, and all ones kept develop HOF careers. Everything else if FAIL!

  11. Alex C. says:

    I caught Melancon’s first ever AB on Friday I think and he walked in a run. Dustin Moseley who was the pitcher, reminded me of K-Rod vs. Mariano at the plate.

  12. Harry says:

    you know whats funny?almost EVERY yankee fan wanted cashman to sign jeff francis this past off-season and we figured it was going to happen n it never did and i know its early but he is pitching lights out right now wow…is it me or is anyone else tired of brian A$$man

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Nobody wanted them to sign Colon and Garcia. How’s that working out?

    • Alex C. says:

      You people don’t know what a small sample size is.

    • Rookie says:

      I really like Cashman, but I’m becoming convinced that the combination of him and the Steinbrenners (who I also like for some reason) and others in the front office (who I don’t have any feel for whatsoever) are almost guaranteed losers — at least when it comes to putting together a team that can win in the postseason.

      • Zack says:

        Were you alive for 2009?

        • Rookie says:

          Yes, I was alive. Maybe you weren’t. The way the Yankees won (as is usually the case in the postseason) was with Sabbathia pitching on short rest thanks to an unusual schedule that MLB says they won’t repeat that allowed him to pitch more often and almost count like two #1 starters and Pettitte, now retired.

          Series #1 (Div Series vs. Minnesota): Two of three wins by Sabbathia and Pettite.

          Series #2 (ALCS vs. LAA): All four wins by Sabbathia and Pettitte.

          Series #3 (WS vs. Philadelphia): Three of four wins in games started by Sabbathia and Pettitte.

          I like Burnette. I liked taking a flyer on Colon, Garcia, Prior, Millwood, and Silva. The Yankees should be flexing their financial muscle. If used properly, big things could result from Colon, Barcia, Prior and Millwood. I have no idea pro or con about Silva. But why not take a flyer?

          I like Cashman very much and like what he’s done with the exception of a few trades, a reverse Midas touch with pitchers where everything he touches turns to cr**, and the ridiculous contracts given to ARod and Jeter which I gather were the Steinbrenners’ doing.

          But let’s call a spade a spade. He gave away Tabata and Melancon. And Cliff Lee said that he went to Philadelphia because they had the best chance to win, and that the Yankees weren’t his second choice for the same reason, mentioning that they were getting older (cough, Derek Jeter, cough, cough) and mentioning Boston by name. And didn’t one sportswriter just claim that Pettitte told a friend that he would have played another year if the Yankees had signed Cliff Lee? (Translation: If he thought he had a very good shot at winning another World Series.)

          It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the Yankees have the best or second best regular season record by force of depth. But as we all know, in the postseason, it’s pitching and defense. And right now, the Yankees have one solid, reliable #1 starter. I guess $200+ million just doesn’t buy what it used to — unless you’re the Phillies or Rangers, of course.

      • Uhh… What? Did 2009 not happen?

      • Mike Axisa says:

        So who is a GM/owner combo that has put together a team that can consistently win in the postseason? Your standards seem awfully high, unrealistic even. The playoffs are a total crapshoot, you could have three of the best SP in the world on your staff, and still lose a series because Cody Ross turns into Superman for four games.

        • Rookie says:

          Of course it’s a crapshoot. Anything can happen in a 7-game series — even more so in a 5-game series. But you can flip a coin and get heads 20 times in row or get 21 in blackjack 10 times in a row, too. It’s not what usually happens.

          I think if you check the stats, you’ll see that offense is what usually wins in the regular season and that pitching is what usually wins in the postseason.

          But do you honestly believe that the Phillies haven’t run circles around the Yankees and that the Rangers and Red Sox haven’t gotten more for their money than the Yankees have? For goodness sake, the Yankees have spent the most money every year this century and have one World Series Title to show for it — and that one because of Sabbathia being able to pitch so often and a pitcher who’s no longer there.

          I’ve been a Cashman fan and defender for years. But let’s call a spade a spade. The history is that almost every pitcher they sign turns to cr**, that they give away their best players (the sole exceptions being the Granderson and Swisher trades), and that other GMs run circles around them like they’re in a coma.

          I know that a lot of that may be due to Yankee hate by other GMs. But the Phillies front office sure seems to find a way to get what they want without paying a lot again and again while our GM says brilliant stuff like: “I didn’t know the Astros were that serious about trading Oswalt.” (or words to that effect)

          It’s just hard to root for a team that flushes $17 million a year down the toilet on a player who I think has less than a 10% chance of earning half of his contract and a 90% chance of embarrassing himself and making it tougher for his team to sign free agent pitchers and win while he claims that he only wants to be a Yankee and is given kudos for being a great leader when, in my opinion, he’s the reverse. I assume you’re looking forward to watching a 42 year old ARod?

          This team does a great imitation of a brain dead Goliath and makes a great shill for teams like Philadelphia, Texas, Tampa Bay, and others who do smart things more often than not and watch their expenditures more carefully. How many players on the Boston payroll are under contract age 38 and beyond? It’s a loser’s game. And the Yankees are playing it. And the Red Sox and the other 29 teams thank them for it. As a Yankee fan who’s trying to kick the habit, it’s hard for me to stomach watching it. I’m sure the other 29 teams will enjoy watching Jeter use a walker. Where do you play a 38-year old Jeter when he can’t field shortstop and he can’t hit? Oh, I know. Just let him stand out in Monument Park.

    • bexy on another computer says:

      First Name Only Male Handle Rule yay

  13. Jerome S. says:

    All the nutjobs came out for this thread… why?

    • JMK says:

      Simple. Guy who didn’t succeed on the Yankees is succeeding under totally different circumstances somewhere else while the Phil Hughes mess is rearing its ugly head. Context and hindsight usually go out the window when you bring these divergent points together.

      For the record, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Berkman/Melancon deal but at the end of the day, taking a flier on a veteran that didn’t work out for a reliever that hadn’t done much didn’t upset me all that much. Still not thrilled with losing Tabata in that deal particularly when Cashman sunk more cash into Marte at the end of the deal. But hey, you can’t win every game and you can’t win every trade. Too much variability in baseball.

    • Zack says:

      Because people love to bash Cashman when prospets have success in small samples elsewhere, when chances are they’re the same people who were here screaming BUST! PROSPECT HUGGER! during his first 20 innings here.

    • Rookie says:

      So posters who point out a history of stupidity and ineptitude are nutjobs.

      Very persuasive logic.

      Why isn’t it a valid question why a team with a $200+ million payroll and a long tradition of winning has only one solid starting pitcher and is highly unlikely to be competitive in the postseason?

      • Accent Shallow says:

        has only one solid starting pitcher

        I’m unwilling to write off Burnett just yet.

        highly unlikely to be competitive in the postseason?

        I think this team has a great shot to go to the postseason, and if they make it, they’ll be competitive.

        • unfixed says:

          I think this team has a great shot to go to the postseason, and if they make it, they’ll be competitive.

          Wait a minute. Who gave you permission to use Very Persuasive Logic™?

      • I think this years team is better than last years team and last years team did pretty well in the post-season.

      • I dunno, they were two games shy of a second straight World Series appearance in 2010 with only one solid starting pitcher. And they won the whole damn thing in 2009.

        Your argument: Invalid.

      • Mike Axisa says:

        …highly unlikely to be competitive in the postseason?

        That’s just a stupid thing to say. You should know that the team on the field right now is not the one they’ll go into the playoffs with. The roster changes, it always does during the season.

        • Rookie says:

          Give me a list of solid #1 or #2 pitchers the Yankees have added during the season in the past 15 years. And I don’t count Clemens because it cost Wells.

          I honestly can’t think of any.

    • It'sATarp says:

      It’s a amazing how much people are pissing their pants over a post about a RELIEVER. They do realize we have Joba, D-rob, Soriano and Mo right? Melancon ain’t going to contribute much outside of garbage time as long as those guys are around.

      • Accent Shallow says:

        Well, to be fair, Mo has to retire eventually, and he’d be a lot cheaper than Soriano over the next few years.

        At the worst, he’d probably be better than Ayala/Noesi/etc.

        • It'sATarp says:

          Melancon is 26 tho, and plus it’s unlikely Melancon is going to replace mo and we have other potential arms to fill the role of garbage time reliever or even 6th-8th inning guy

  14. Slu says:

    Good for Mark. I never really liked him all that much. He just looked like a AAAA pitcher to me. I know SSS. I liked the trade then, and I still like it now. Even if the Yankees still had him, assuming he made the team, he’d still wouldn’t sniff a high leverage situation. He would still be nothing but trade bait.

  15. dela g says:

    well melancon blew up today, giving up 4 runs and blowing the game

  16. Epy0n says:

    Checking in on Melancon .2 IP 3 H 4 R 3 ER 1 BB

    • Accent Shallow says:

      Can’t handle the New York Pressure ™ of having a Yankee-centric blog make a post on him?

      (Seriously, though, I wish him the best. And that his entire career is in the NL, so he doesn’t face the Yankees)

  17. bexy on another computer says:

    I was watching the Mets game today and their announcers were talking about the Astros, since they’re apparently coming to Citi next. Apparently the Astros’ “brightest spot” is Melancon. When your brightest spot is a reliever, that’s just kinda sad.

    (And of course he got lit up this afternoon, against the Padres. Oops.)

    • Accent Shallow says:

      Hunter Pence? Michael Bourn? W-Rod?*

      *I know that’s not a thing. Might have to make it happen.

      • j says:

        First, its Wand-Rod, not W-Rod.
        Second, if Melancon was on this team we still would have signed Soriano. He’d be getting the garbage innings in this bullpen at best. At worst he’d still be in AAA. His value to this team was low because we can’t afford to give him the chances Houston did.

      • JMK says:

        Brett Meyers?

      • bexy on another computer says:

        I would agree, any of those guys is a bigger “bright spot” than Melancon. And the Astros are still totally sad.

  18. Rookie says:

    How did Melancon go from possible heir to Mo to casual throwaway so fast? How fast we forget.

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