Kevin Long talks about Melky Cabrera, superstar

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(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

As you know, former Yankee Melky Cabrera has been one of the very best players in all of baseball this season. He’s hitting .363/.399/.532 with a league-leading 101 hits for the Giants, resulting in 3.0 fWAR and a .401 wOBA that rank 10th and 14th in MLB, respectively. Melky broke out with the Royals last season — .349 wOBA and 4.2 fWAR — but he’s taken his game to another level in 2012.

Cabrera’s career was basically left for dead after 2010, when he was literally the worst player in baseball (-1.0 fWAR) before being released by the Braves. Melky was never a great player for the Yankees but he wasn’t terrible, just a useful fourth outfielder that often played full-time. Getting cut by Atlanta seems to have been the wake-up call he needed to start taking his career seriously, as hitting coach Kevin Long indicated to Joel Sherman

“He’s a hell of a player,” said Long. “He has totally gotten committed to his career. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t take anything for granted any more. His personal trainer is with him all the time. When you go all in and have talent, this is what happens — and it is evident he has the talent.

“If Melky committed himself to the Yankees as he does now, he would still be a Yankee,” added Long. “And he would say the same thing. He made himself tradeable then.”

Just do a simple Google Images search of “Melky Cabrera Braves” and compare it to “Melky Cabrera Giants” and the difference is obvious. Melky was fat in Atlanta, fatter than he ever was in New York. Maybe it had to do with the huge ($3.1M) arbitration award he received that winter; he just got a little too comfortable or something. I dunno, whatever. Now? He’s not fat. Not even close. He appears to have rededicated himself to baseball after being released and is going to be rewarded with a monster contract after this season.

The Yankees could sure use Melky right now given Brett Gardner‘s injury but so could every team in baseball. He’s been that good, a star-caliber hitter for over 1,000 plate appearances now. Had he not been traded to the Braves three offseasons ago, there’s a very real chance he would not have developed into the player he is today though. Getting traded away by the team that signed and developed you and then getting released is often the worst moment of a player’s career, but it appears to have been a blessing for the Melkman.

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  • Will The Thrill

    Um. So does this mean it’s okay to sign him to replace Swisher next year?

    • sangreal

      If they can’t afford to sign Swisher next year, they sure as hell won’t be able to afford Melky

      • Typical MIT Nerd

        Bingo. Swisher is proven. Melky is certainly getting there. But I don’t see how he tops Swisher in AAV even as he might get more years. Look at the contract Bautista got from the Jays (5/64). If that’s the standard for Melky, and I don’t think it should be, Swisher still comes out ahead.

        • RetroRob

          Bautista wasn’t a free agent.

    • RetroRob

      No. He’ll cost more and will probably produce less next year.

      • Knoxvillain

        Why would he produce less? He actually tries now, and San Francisco is a much bigger park than Yankee Stadium. Not to mention you know he gets hits when you need him.

        I’d go hard after Melky if I was the Yankees this offseason. I love Swisher, but I’d rather have Melky.

        • Now Batting

          The though process is he will stop trying so hard once he has a fat, guaranteed contract.

          • Knoxvillain

            Maybe or maybe not. He is also only 27 I think. So say a 5 year or 6 year deal. By the time he’s a FA again, he’s only going to be around 32-33. He could get another 4-5 year deal if he still produces after that. That for sure will be in his mind and probably be more than enough to motivate him to continue.

          • RetroRob

            No. The thought process if he has a .400+ BABIP, which is not sustainable. I’m not saying he hasn’t improved some. I just don’t want to buy and pay on peak value when there are questions.

            Maybe Melky is a .280/15 HR hitter on the Yankees next year. I don’t want to lock in on a player like that for RF, especially with his overall longer history of performing at a substantially lower level. He’s in better shape, but his approach hasn’t changed really that much at all.

      • Typical MIT Nerd

        Who says he’ll cost more? Even while his numbers are huge, there are questions on whether he can sustain it. And perhaps he sees a bit of unfinished business in the Bronx.

        I always loved Melky. The dismissals here of his talent were never clear to me.

        • RetroRob

          Really?

    • DM

      He wanted big money before he left KC. They offered him an extension but he turned it down.

  • Voice of Reason

    If “he doesn’t drink” is one of the first things that comes to mind when talking about Cabrera’s improvement, he must’ve been drinking a hell of a lot with the Yankees.

    • Brian S.

      He, Cano, and Abreu in 2008 didn’t know where they were half the time.

      • DM

        Betemit was part of the bodega gang too.

      • OMG! Bagels!

        Yeah, I read back then that Bobby had them out a lot and people were frustrated that he could teach them to drink but not to be patient at the plate. I think breaking up the trio became a Yankee goal.

      • Steve (different one)

        link?

  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    I saw this as Long being defensive. Kind of like, don’t blame me for not developing Melky, it was his fault. The fact that he says…”and he would say the same thing” after he said “he doesn’t drink.” was a bit cheesy to me too. Let Melky speak for himself. And he would say the same thing…well, you didn’t give him a chance to do that did you, you said it and now the press will go to Melky and put him on the spot. I lost a bit of respect for Long here.

    • Ted Nelson

      Long is not Melky’s magic fairy…

  • http://www.yankeeanalysts.com Eric

    Everyone thought he was holding Cano back all these years. Maybe it was the other way around.

  • Jimmy McNulty

    I recall a video where a porn star was video taping him with out a shirt on and he was saying something in broken english. It was hilarious. Despite being terrible I always liked Melky, he took everything in stride. It sucks that the Yankees traded away a guy that turned out to be an awesome hitter (and got back Javier Vazquez) but I’m glad he’s having success.

    • Gonzo

      Mary Carey!

    • A.D.

      The did also get Boone Logan in that trade which has panned out fairly well to date

  • yooboo

    Think Billy Martin and Mickey Mantle. Same thing to Cabrera and Cano.

    Yankees just got rid of Cabrera on time. It seems he has sobered up since he got cut by Braves.

  • Claudell

    Good thing the Yankees traded him for Javy Vazquez Part II.

    • pat

      +1. Should of used the crystal ball.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Did you miss the part about Melky being the worst player in baseball the season after the Yankees traded him?

      • Stan the Man

        One bad year doesn’t make a career and Javy Vasquez has had many bad yrs in the AL, not a good trade when it happened and even worse now.

    • Jesse

      That trade is now known as “The Boone Logan trade”.

    • MannyGeee

      and there it is. nice narrative shift, troll

  • http://www.movoto.com/property/ny/buffalo.html New York Realtor

    Dude, BABIP driven year so far. He’s an above average player. Get this “one of the best players in the game” garbage out of here.

    • Matt

      He said that Melky has been one of the best players in the game this season. That’s indisputable whether or not it’s sustainable.

  • Kramerica Industries
  • whitey

    Heads up healthy give me Gardner

  • Rich in NJ

    If only the Yankees had listed to Alex when he begged them to sign Melky in 2011.

    • Yankeefan Arod Fan

      i was just thinking about this lol

      • DM

        Yeah. A-Rod’s recommendation wasn’t mentioned in Mike’s article for some reason.

        • Stan the Man

          Despite Mike bashing the suggestion early last year, it would have been nice to see him give AROD some credit, since Mike’s take was to tell AROD to stick to his day job.

          • DM

            He went a little overboard by elevating it to an article. No biggie — but acknowledging it at some point would be nice. And I’m sure all the digs at Mike regarding it would slow down or stop after that.

          • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

            He should stick to his day job. Listening to the players is how you wind up with A.J. Burnett after Jeter and Damon recommended they sign him. They’re not objective at all.

            • DM

              Doubling down? Nice. You have more guts than Hughes. But in all seriousness, the context matters –i.e., the reasons for the recommendation. It’s not simply players liking other players. And I doubt that AJ Burnett became a Yankee simply due to a comment from another player. They didn’t sign him b/c Damon said so. I think there’s helluva a lot more to “the process” (as Cashman would say) than Damon saying “Yeah, that dude’s cool. We should sign him.”

            • Knoxvillain

              If it wasn’t for Burnett, we probably wouldn’t have won anything in 2009. Do you know what you’re talking about?

    • MannyGeee

      “Melky was a fun and energetic guy with a knack for big hits, but Alex should really stick to hitting baseballs.”

      should he, Mike?

      In hindsight he would have turned out to be a better baseball player advise giver than baseball hitter this season…

      but, you know what they say… YCPBB

      • Cris Pengiucci

        Yeah, well, Alex should stick to hetting baseballs. He may have made the right call on Melky, but he still needs to do his job for the Yankees. Preferably a bit better (or at least with more power) than he’s doing now.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        What were they supposed to do, sign Melky and play him over Gardner coming off his 2010 season?

  • Matt

    Mike said that Melky has been one of the best players this season. That’s indisputable whether or not it’s sustainable.

  • RetroRob

    Melky’s lifetime BABIP is .308.

    Melky’s 2012 BABIP is .404.

    Melky is having one of those years. Buyer beware.

    • DM

      He was better than his lifetime in 2011 too.

      • RetroRob

        Not 100 points. He’s heading for a fall. He’ll want to be paid based on his 2012 season. I wouldn’t go anywhere near that.

        • DM

          If he falls back to 2011 levels, that’s still a pretty good season. I hope he stays in SF; he seems to have found a home there — and they’ll surely need him going forward.

          • Ted Nelson

            2011 Melky and 2012 Melky aren’t the same creature… .400 wOBA vs. .350…

            • DM

              2012 isn’t over yet.

              • Ted Nelson

                It amazes me that such a stupid person exists.. Though I guess after Bush 2 I should never overestimate intelligence.

                The conversation you jumped into was not whether he could maintain sid hitting, but elite hitting. Two different animals.

                • DM

                  Yawn.

                  Still itchy, huh?

                  He was talking “buyer beware” too — the context which you conveniently left out. And he was taking his lifetime numbers while leaving out the big uptick in 2011 that raised those lifetime numbers. Melky could fall off, and still have a good season like 2011, then why should a buyer beware with 2 seasons in a row like that? Like I just told you, 2012 isn’t over yet. The only one who missed the gist is you — as usual. There’s nothing to say about 2012 being “one of those years” until the season is over. Get it? Or are you still trapped in the bitter Ted-zone? My hands are getting tired of these bitch slaps I give you every other week. Do you want me to use something else?

                • nyyankfan_7

                  Jesus is there anything you kool-aid drinking liberals won’t blame on Bush?

                  • I am not the droids you’re looking for…

                    Usually just the stuff that’s, you know, his fault.

                    • Stan the Man

                      Which would also be Obama’s fault since he hasn’t done a thing to change the supposed faults of Bush….just saying. Anyway Melky is 27 yrs old, heading into his prime yrs, he hits well, plays the corner OF well, has a great arm and has some pop in his bat. Usually this is the type of player you would want to sign and not stay away from.

            • Voice of Reason

              and substantially all of that improvement is owed to an uptick in BABIP. That’s the point. There’s virtually no chance he’ll maintain a BABIP of .400 for the rest of the year, and literally no chance that he’ll do so in the long run. Maybe he’ll be good for .350, but even that would put him in a very exclusive club. Nobody is going to be paying for his 2012 numbers if they look like this at the end of the year.

              • DM

                That is the point. RetroRob was using the same fluke argument that was used against Melky’s 2011. His 100 point span is misleading; it waters down Melky’s 2011 with pre-recommitted Melky numbers, but puts his off-the-hook numbers in less than half the 2012 season on a pedestal. The relevant context for buyers this off-season will be what Melky has done the past 2 years, in his prime, after changing his approach — rather than pretending that 2012 is in the books already as a crazy walk-year outlier, and 2011 just another mediocre Melky season. Ted didn’t get that. But I understand RetroRobs true meaning which is suspicion of giving Melky a big contract, which is a valid stance to take — but it looks like it will be after 2 very good years rather than after just one head scratching year.

      • BK2ATL

        Shush. It ruins the narrative.

        Truth be told, over the past 1.5 years, his overall numbers are better than any Yankees’ OF not named Granderson.

        Yeah, it’s a fluke.

        • Cris Pengiucci

          May or may not be a fluke. While I haven’t loked it up, I’m sure you’ll find many examples of players that had an outstanding 2 or 3 year run and then quietly disappeared. Probably happened more frequently during the ‘Roid years, but I bet it happens frequently.

          Melky’s hot right now and possibly will be through the end of the season. Where will he be 2-3 years into his next contract? No one can tell. Had he been solid and progressing for the past 5 years (as opposed to being one of, if not the worst player in the MLB), there’d be less risk. The fact that he has been very good to outstanding for only the past 1.5 years causes some concernes.

          • DM

            Fair enough — but I think there should be less concern when the improvement is attributed to something tangible. I think some here hang on the idea that these players are baseball robots set with dip switches and delimiters rather than a human being making a choice to do things differently. It would raise far more concern if the same old Melky (with no reports of change in focus, work ethic and blatantly obvious physical transformation) just happened to have a good year. There seems to be a cause to this that shook off fangraph projections – his own volition.

            • Cris Pengiucci

              Agree with you here. He made changes and his performance improved. on a 3 – 4 year deal at an AAV of around 12M (or under), he might be an OK pick up. Due to age, he might be a better option than Swisher at about the same costs.

    • Noseeum

      The average BABIP for teetotalers in the live ball era is .394. He’ll be fine.

    • FIPster Doofus

      But is lifetime BABIP really that useful in this case? The Melky we’ve seen since last season is far better than the version from previous years. I mean, he’s not gonna BABIP .404, but I doubt he’ll drop all that close to .308 either.

      • MannyGeee

        So IOW he wont get released again, but he likely wont earn that Crawfordian contract he’s about to sign.

        story checks out…

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Melky is a completely different player than he was a few years ago and he’s obviously a very good hitter now. Is his true talent a .363 AVG? I highly doubt that. He’s both very good and lucky this year. His BB%, K%, and ISO are identical to last season.

  • dkidd

    stories like this keep the “he just needs to buckle down and look himself in the mirror and give a hundred percent” narrative going

    • DM

      Well, you need that narrative now since the “He’ll never do that again. 2011 was a fluke.” narrative died a quick death.

      • BK2ATL

        Nah, the “2012 is a fluke” and “May 2012 was a fluke. Hits mean nothing” narratives live on this board.

        • DM

          Right. I guess the new narrative is “2012 is a fluke” and hope no one brings up 2011 — and talk about his season in Atlanta a lot.

          • hogsmog

            The story I’m sticking with is “Now actually a good baseball player, but if played over Gardner in 2010 would have pissed everyone off, and there’s no way the Yankees could have expected someone who was well below average for four full seasons to like, double their OPS+”.

        • Ted Nelson

          You need to differentiate between narrative and truth. Seem to have confused them. No one maintains a .400 wOBA. No one above AA ball. Melky’s performance has already taken a dip.

          • Ted Nelson

            Whoops: .400 BABIP

            • Stan the Man

              I don’t think anyone is stating he will continue at a +.400 BABIP, but he has put up great numbers this year and doing so in a pitchers park, add to it a good/great year last year, his age (27), defense, arm strength, and you have a good ball player.

              Does that mean he should get a $10/million a yr? No. The Yanks would be upgrading their OF if they add Melky in the off-season and could save money in the process, that would be a win-win.

              • RetroRob

                Yet there’s the problem, which gets back to my “buyer beware.” He’s young and coming off a solid season in 2011 and an excellent season (let’s assume) in 2012.

                What makes people think he’s going to be a bargain? I’m getting to lines of thinking here. Melky is better than he used to be, and Melky will be a bargain. Sorry, but those two lines of thinking don’t go together.

                • DM

                  I don’t think he’ll sign at a bargain rate for anyone. Melky could’ve played it safe with KC and taken their offer, but he decided to bet on himself in 2012 instead.

                  • RetroRob

                    The “bargain rate” question was my point with the buyer beware comment.

                    I don’t have an interest in him on what he’ll probably cost and the questions around him. He basically kicked it into overdrive in July 2011, not quite a year ago, and we know his 2012 season is fueled by an unsustainable BABIP. He should be better than the 4th OFer type who last played in NY, but not what he’s showing right now.

                    His price will be probably be too high for what he’ll deliver. The Yankees can go kick the tires, but I’m really not all that intereted in them buying the car.

                    • DM

                      I don’t think they’ll pursue him either — but it has to be on the table (along with Swisher) with their lack of OF depth and the Gardner problem. You might be looking at Granderson all alone out there if this elbow thing becomes some chronic issue. His swing isn’t good enough to begin with to be taken down a notch with a gimpy elbow. But in the end I’m expecting a creative trade — like the ones that brought Granderson and Swisher here.

  • jim p

    Has Melky been doing that late clutch hit thing in the last two years?

    Isn’t this his age 27 season? He hits 28 on Aug. 11. So, prime years coming up. vs. Swisher…?

    As to age, there’s something often overlooked with guys with raw talent who get to 25 (think Phil Hughes) and put it together later. I’m loathe to dismiss anyone before they hit 28 if they show flashes of brilliance in their earlier years.

    Koufax was a sub-500 pitcher from his 19th through 24th year seasons. http://www.baseball-reference......sa01.shtml

    Gibson was barely above 500 through his 25th year.

    If there was a good replacement for the beloved Swisher, I’d be looking at Melky.

    • DM

      Maybe that’s what Phil needs to do — amp up the work ethic and re-dedicate to his profession. I’m sure Andy still remembers those old Clemens-style workouts. He should drag Phil and Ivan out there early and run them ragged. Phil might have to give up some of his video game and hockey tweeting time, but it might pay off for him.

      • BK2ATL

        They’ve both been pitching better since Andy came back, so…there might already be something to that.

      • jim p

        Sometimes it might be just having something click. Or meeting a coach who sees what you need.

        For instance, if Hughes can finally get comfortable with a change up… then everything is different for him. If I recall it was a good 3 springs ago where he was going to develop that, but never did. But he’s young, who would say he won’t, and then become a top pitcher?

        • DM

          I don’t know. The weird thing with Hughes from an arsenal standpoint is that it keeps changing. Cutter/no cutter/slider, regular curve/spike curve/back to regular curve, no change up/change up, work faster/slow down. Usually that click you’re talking about is one major thing — but with Phil there’s a a bunch of half-baked attempt to change after supposedly “finding something” — then it disappears for some reason.

    • BK2ATL

      I agree. We KNOW that he can handle NYC. He seems to have gotten his act together and now is taking everything seriously.

      And yeah, funny how Mike didn’t comment on his own article about this. Talk about eating your own (SSS) words….Funny stuff, but we all do it. Alex was right. It’s easy to say now.

      I’m happy that Melkman’s focused. I wish him well. He was a 23 yo world champion with a pocket full of money. Anyone with common sense could see how easy it would be to lose focus. He needed the wake-up call and got it. A-Rod had him train with him and ever since then, he’s been a monster. Imagine that, a young kid needed veteran guidance.

      I think SF will re-sign him, because, why wouldn’t they? They NEED offense and he complements that lineup well.

      If Swisher must be replaced, Melky needs to be really considered.

      • DM

        I think Montero would’ve been better off with A-Rod around and other pros around him too. I doubt Ichiro is tutoring Jesus. The Yankee all-star, ring wearing, veteran clubhouse would be a better environment for Montero (and his lapses) than a young clubhouse with a few aloof veterans. No one is fining Montero for not taking extra BP in Seattle.

        • BK2ATL

          I’m sure that’s true. For all of the crap that he catches around here, A-Rod’s been pretty integral in helping the youngsters out. Melky, Cano, Nunez (at the plate), I’m sure Montero was next in line. That would’ve been something to witness, A-Rod passing the baton over to Montero as the lineup’s RH power bat.

          Oh well, maybe in 6 yrs. LOL!!!

          • DM

            Yeah, he gets a bad rap b/c of the $ and loftier expectations; but no one works harder — or tries harder to meet those expectations than he does. He’s always made the most money — but he’s the first at the ballpark every day too. And if ever really falls off, I bet he retires with big money left on the table rather than hanging on.

      • Ted Nelson

        For every time a player recommends a hard worker who works out there is probably at least one recommends who doesn’t… if not four. Most guy who make it to the high minors work hard. That doesn’t mean most of them work out in MLB

        • DM

          probably at least one — if not four — or any other arbitrary belch of numbers that kinda-sorta-maybe say something or something else to go against what someone just said — or not — just in case it possibly is probably somewhat likely to mostly be a chance of something else.

          Just post “Oh yeah? Maybe not!” every time — it will save you keystrokes.

  • The Moral Majority is Neither

    Got Melk?

  • Kevin G.

    Even if we didn’t trade Melky in the Boone Logan deal I doubt he would have survived with the Yankees if he put up a similar performance to the one he did with Atlanta.

    • MannyGeee

      he woulda caught the bus to Scranton.

    • Stan the Man

      There would be no reason to think he would have had that year if he was in NY.

      • RetroRob

        You’re right. Probably worse.

  • Monterowasnotdinero

    I was waiting for a Montero comment so as not to be attacked for bringing his name up in every thread. Yes-if he was batting 6/7 in our lineup with ARod and Jeter and all our catching brass keeping him disciplined and focused etc, he would have very much benefitted. As it is, he will struggle as the youngest and cheapest cleanup hitter in baseball with less veteran leadership around him. The M’s won’t be as impatient with his struggles though. He can work out his first half issues when they are 20-30 games out in the low pressure second half.

    Melky is a definite YCPB example. I mean, the all-time Giants’ hits leader in 1 month (May) beating Willie Mays? AMAYSING!

  • OMG! Bagels!

    I think Melky had a devil / angel thing going on when he was here. Wanting to hang and party with Robbie and Bobby while being schooled by Arod on work ethic and training. He seemed to really like Arod but he didn’t follow him around like a puppy as he probably should have and he would get distracted with bright lights/big city.

    • nsalem

      In my opinion people assigning Melky’s lack of success in NYC to his party habits is ignorant and being perpetuated by people who have no real knowledge of his life save for what they read in newspapers and the blogosphere . Again in my opinion the “bodega” comment made by DM and another “out on the town” comment by McNulty earlier in this post are smack full of racism (maybe or maybe not intentional) and ignorance. Joba, Melky and Hughes are all the same age and all have not lived up to their promise on the field. Many posters seem to attribute the problems of both Melky and Joba (non whites) to alcohol related issues while with Hughes its always excuses like he didn’t show up in shape or he was covering up an injury. Never a mention of lifestyle problems. Again in my opinion I believe that all of us (including me) on this site know little to nothing about what makes the above mentioned athletes tick. It is more than coincidence that it is people that are different from them go under the substance abuse microscope at a much greater rate than the people that are the same as them.

      • DM

        Huh? Racism and ignorance? I’m referring to semi-famous videos – – in some circles, at least — of said players in bodegas. And if you’ve ever read my comments regarding Hughes, you couldn’t put me in the spare the white guy crowd. Actually your post sounds more racist and ignorant than those you bring up. You’ve taken just as big a leap as those you’re accusing. And there’s another hilarious reason why your statement is off (regarding me at least). Can you figure it out just from that? Or did you assume something about me and my background for some reason? Hmmm…

        • nsalem

          Okay DM please show me a comment you have made about Phil Hughes or other white players that attributes their failures to too much partying . Just because I haven’t seen it doesn’t mean wyou haven’t made them. Please share them with us. I also infer that you were trying to imply you are not white. Doesn’t make a difference, There are people of all colors and nationalities who make stupid ass comments about race. Many times even their own. The point I was trying to make is that, in reality we know very little about these players ( I included myself in this grouping) so it is unfair to jump to conclusions with the innuendo and accusations that is spread through all kinds of media reports.

          • DM

            I haven’t attributed Phil’s troubles to partying — but I certainly wouldn’t ignore rumors or evidence to that affect b/c he’s white. And you made a huge leap from my bodega comment, that you didn’t really acknowledge in your reply. Can you you show me anything where I said that Melky sucked b/c of alcohol abuse — or that parties more than others b/c he’s non-white? Does your extrapolation from my “bodega gang” comment smack of ignorance or certainty? Those players did indeed frequent bodegas (search for the vids if they’re still out there), and from daring to mention it, you jumped to a conclusion about me. I’ll bash or praise anyone based on the info I have. To imply that I wouldn’t turn a blind eye to Hughes, b/c of his whiteness, if there was a video of him doing bong hits in his condo is absurd. We have more data regarding partying in regards to Melky, if/when we get any regarding any white-green-blue player being a knucklehead and having that spill into his game, you can fall in behind me b/c I’ll be leading the charge. A clown is a clown. And the biggest clown of all in that category is Josh Hamilton. I guess that makes me anti-left handed, white guys from the south or something, huh?

        • pete

          I actually think he made a pretty solid point, although I get how it can be taken the wrong way. The “racism” charge does not appear to have been intended as an implication of your personal (or anybody’s personal) biases or motives (a lack of malevolent racial motive is one of the most frequently used – and yet altogether worthless – defenses for complicit racism), but rather of the rhetorical systems that produce subconscious ideologies that lead towards racialized descriptive tendencies.

          Subtly (and non-malevolently) racist rhetoric is everywhere in this country, but it’s particularly perceptible in sports-related discourse (and even more particularly in baseball-related discourse, likely due to the easily perceived (albeit totally inaccurate) binary demography of the game (i.e., that it is comprised of “whites” and “hispanics” – two of many absurd racial terms)) because sports writing and discourse is typically read/listened to with less critical focus than other writings and discourses. nsalem’s point – that unsubstantiated narratives about baseball players are frequently tied to racial (and therefore, based on their lack of substantiation, and, importantly, not necessarily any individual bias or personal malevolence towards a particular race, racist) meta-narratives that have produced the unfortunately true (and therefore somewhat consolingly hilarious) memes of “white grit” and “hispanic laziness” that can be frequently found on (generally) more observant boards such as this one.

          • nsalem

            I was always impressed by Melky. He seemed like an intelligent and hustling player to me. One of my earliest memories of him was his Base on Balls in an extremely crucial situation that I think won a game against the Mets in 06 or 07. it was a long at bat and I was impressed by his patience and his ability to take pitches close to a strike in such a pressure situation. I thought it was a rare commodity for someone his age. He didn’t grow offensively as we had hoped he would and sometime after Cano’s poor season it was suggested that both of their failures were due to the nightlife. Somehow Melky though younger and with the team a less amount of time was the “bad” influence on Cano. This story was repeated so often that it has become gospel and is accepted as the truth. It may or may not be true. Who knows? I would just have to know more (which I never will) to accept it as such. I also believe that hispanic and black players are subject to this sort of scrutiny more than white people. I know i may be wrong but this is what I perceive to be true.

            • DM

              I agree with the evaluation of Melky as a player — but I don’t know if he was the bad influence or if Cano was just the better player to keep. Maybe they’re both better off apart. And frankly, Cano seems like the party animal in those videos. Melky is a wallflower by comparison.

            • Joe

              What is there not to know. The Yankees hitting coach brought up “drinking” as a reason why Melky didn’t reach his potential here. If that’s not inside information from a team source then what is? Long isn’t a fan. He’s an employee. I don’t think he was talking about drinking Shasta. Melky partied all the time. The reason he was the one to go was because the team felt Cano was the better player. If Melky hit like Cano and Cano hit like Melky as a Yankee, Cano would be reviving his career on another team. Again, the Yankees hitting coach blamed drinking as one of the reasons why Melky didn’t emerge here. We’re not making it up. Whether it was at a bodega or in the back of a Pathmark, it doesn’t matter when one of his coaches suggests that was his problem.

          • DM

            Is it possible that he took my comment and ran with it in the wrong way? And is he possibly doubling down on it now b/c he can’t admit that he made a similar leap to a conclusion? Do you think the use of the word “bodega” (which is a fact) had anything to do with it? If I said the “Hooters gang” (even though that would be inaccurate) would I have been given the benefit of the doubt? He says we don’t really know so don’t jump to conclusions, but he seems to have concluded a whole lot from a simple comment I made, didn’t he? If Phil Hughes had been in those videos and I said “Hughes was part of the bodega gang too.” instead of “Betemit was part of the bodega gang too.” would I have been treated differently? But b/c Betemit was actually the other guy there — instead of a white guy, it smacks of racism? Should I make up a story about Hughes and partying with no evidence of such just to satisfy some bizarre requirement to include a white guy? Ridiculous.

            • OMG! Bagels!

              The stories that year were about Bobby, Robbie and Melky.

              I don’t know how that is racist when I said that Arod was the one with the work ethic trying to steer Melky in the right direction.

              Those were the stories. People complained that Robbie and Melky were hacking and that if Bobby was taking them out, why didn’t he inject some lessons about patience at the plate instead of just partying with them.

              Any charge of racism is nonsense and I never heard the term “bodega gang” until today and had no idea about Betemit.

              I just know the stories then were about Bobby, Robbie and Melky and Arod trying to steer Robbie and Melky toward a harder work ethic.

              That was the story. How is that racist?

              • DM

                It isn’t.

  • bonestock94

    This just makes me think how many players have unrealized potential due to their partying habits, pure laziness, or other random off field stuff. You always hear about the elite players having insanely difficult regimens and being extremely disciplined. Maybe it’s a bigger factor in why they’re elite than we think.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Well, it’s not just about raw ability. There’s a lot of pieces that go together in having both the physical makeup and emotional focus to play a competitive sport, especially one that plays more games a season than any other.

      Dude’s 27 years old. That may be entering your prime sports-wise, but he’s still a pretty young man. There’s no timetable as to when you get your shit together, nor is there really a dollar amount that will magically make you do it.

      I’m incredibly happy for him. Would love to see him back, but realize why it may not happen.

    • DM

      To be fair, there are some elite players that don’t have great work ethics but still have great success. The jackpot is having the uber-talent along with a head screwed on right. Griffey is a good example — HofF career, but basically showed up to the ballpark and took his 4 ABs and didn’t do much in between to make himself better. I can only imagine what his career might’ve been if he approached his prep like A-Rod. In Seattle, when A-Rod was in the cage for extra BP and doing defensive drills, Junior was playing video games in the clubhouse.

      • nsalem

        Oh is that a fact??

        • DM

          If you’re referring to the video game comment, it is if you believe A-Rod isn’t a liar. He said as much when Junior retired (look it up). I think you’re implying that latino players are liars.

          • nsalem

            Griffey got hurt at 30, was never the same again and as far as we know never took PED’s. A-Rod has acknowledged he used PED’s and I’m not convinced that he only used them for 3 years he claimed he did. What does him being latino have anything to do with this. Also please show me some of your comments about Hughes that are similar to the attacks you have made on Melky.

            • DM

              “What does him being latino have anything to do with this.”

              Absolutely nothing — and that applies to my bodega comment too. Just a fact about a group of guys getting sloshed at bodegas with video footage of the same.

              And what Melky “attacks” are you referring too?!? If anything I defended him to a fault. In the Gardner/Melky debate, I was a Melky guy b/c I thought he had more talent. And I’ve gotten on Hughes more than any other player on this roster — and I’ve attacked his work ethic and his heart over and over. Do you read posts on this board?

              And I have no idea how you brought PEDs into the Griffey thing. A-Rod praised Griffey’s ability by saying how hard he had to work while Griffey would just show up and perform. He said the Junior would be sitting in a lounge chair in the clubhouse playing video games then step on the field and perform. It was back-handed compliment b/c A-Rod was also revealing the difference between his and Junior’s game prep.

              • nsalem

                Now I understand the points you are trying to make. You are 100% right. Great comments.

                • DM

                  Thanks. I give you credit for admitting your misfire due to lack of understanding. You’re a stand-up guy.

                  • nsalem

                    when you’re right you’re right.

  • JohnC

    Lets temper the Melky enthusisam a littel. Got a whole 2nd half of season to go yet. Before he dreams of the really big bucks, he’s got to maintain this throuhg the entire season. If he drops off in the 2nd half, then what?

  • http://www.twitter.com/matt__harris Matt :: Sec110

    I mean, for everyone who says Melky still has to prove it…he was pretty dam good last year.

    • JohnC

      He was OK. Nothing spectacular

      • Stan the Man

        I would take another look at his numbers last year before you make silly comments. An ok year doesn’t include 200+ hits, 65+ xtra base hits, and a .300 avg. He could have had a higher OBP and slugging, but those are the only numbers keeping him from having a great yr last year. Everything else is well above ok.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/philgalletto theyankeewarrior

    Too bad A-Rod didn’t train with him the whole 2011 off-season and tell the Yankees that he was re-committed and in great shape, the perfect, switch hitting, solid defender with pop that you look for in your OF depth.

    Oh wait.

    • Steve (different one)

      Melky hit .255/.317/.354 in over 500 ABs in 2010. It’s great that he was working out that winter, but can we please save the snark that it was SO OBVIOUS the Yankees should have brought him back because A-Rod said he was working hard.

      He was awful in 2010. So awful that he had to take the last offer in the bigs: a deal with the Royals. Every other team passed, including the geniuses in Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Boston.

      It’s great that something clicked and he was a fun player while he was here, but maybe he should have taken his career more seriously BEFORE he got released? Sometimes the player, not the team, deserves the blame.

      Instead of being annoyed that the Yanks didn’t have an upgrade at 4th OFer last year, you should be annoyed that he didn’t force himself into their longterm plans in the 4 seasons he was on the team.

      • Stan the Man

        Anytime you trade away a player under the age of 25 you risk seeing them develop on another team. To keep bringin up his one year in Atlanta is disingenious to the player Melky was and has become. He was never a bad player with the Yanks, he was far from great but was definitely a useful player. He was by all accounts a 4th OF at age 24, which isn’t a bad place to be on the Yankee roster. He now has become a starting OF and one whom the Yanks should be very interested in signing to a deal this off-season if they can. His year in Atlanta is the outlier and one that can be attirbuted to many things but at the end of the day it was a bad year, one in which he is far from repeating.

        • RetroRob

          Melky Cabrera had a career OPS+ of 85 in five years covering parts of six seasons, never once producing even a league-average seasons, while appearing in over 700 games and 2600 PAs.

          Nothing disingenious. Just the facts. He started to turn his career around in July 2011, a little less than a year ago.

          It’s not a question if Melky is better (he is), the question is how much better (unknown) and if can maintain it (unknown), and how much and for how long would it take to retain his services again. I think the answer to the last part will be a lot more than the Yankees should consider.

          That’s it.

  • Elmgrovegnome

    I always liked Melky with the Yankees. I was sad to see him go. He had a youthful enthusiasm that the team lacks.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I liked his enthusiasm, and I just plan like the guy. I don’t think enthusiasm is suddenly missing from this team, or that it’s something Melky-exclusive.

      • Randi

        The team is enthusiastic, but I think the Yanks are missing that dynamic personality that they used to have.

      • OMG! Bagels!

        Swisher is pretty enthusiastic.