Should Cashman bring Melky back?
Melky Cabrera has been having a tremendous season in San Francisco which was just puncuated with an MVP performance in the All-Star Game. Cashman dealt Melky along with Arodys Vizcaino & Mike Dunn to the Braves for Javy Vazquez & Boone Logan after the World Series in 2009 – a trade which most fans didn’t like at the time because of the price the Yanks paid for a pitcher who already failed in NY. Although Boone Logan has been a useful reliever that trade did not go Cashman’s way. Will he take the opportunity this winter to try to correct the deal?
We have seen Cashman’s affinity for bringing back players who didn’t work out well the first time, could Melky be one of them? Cabrera will be a Free Agent following this season in a market that is fairly thin in quality OFs. Josh Hamilton is the headliner but after him its Melky, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Shane Victorino, BJ Upton, Carlos Quentin and veterans like Ichiro and Tori Hunter. When looking at that list, Cabrera looks pretty attractive. Hamilton is an absolute stud but will be 32 and has durability issues having played 121, 133 & 89 games the previous 3 years. Bourn is an exciting player but his value is his speed which isn’t always good for a player who will be 30 next yr. Victorino is having a terrible season and Upton has been a big underachiever in his career, so it may come down to Swisher or Melky.
We all know Swisher’s game. In his 3.5 seasons with the team he’s hit .266/.363/.485/.848 with a 122 OPS+ and is good for 23-29 HRs & 85 RBI while playing average defense in RF. He’ll be 32 yrs old and likely looking at a 3 or 4 yr deal worth around $11-12M per.
Melky was a useful player with the Yanks from 2006-2009. When he was first brought up, he supplied some much-needed good defense in the Outfield. With veterans like Bernie & Johnny Damon out there, Melky’s defense was a breath of fresh air. In his 4 yrs as a starter, he hit .270/.332/.387/.718 as a 21-24 yr old. After being traded to Atlanta, he gained weight and played so poorly, he was released. That apparently was the wake-up call he needed. He dedicated himself to getting into great shape for the first time in his career and it paid off. Since the start of 2011, Melky has more hits than any player in MLB with 320 for a .322 average which is 5th in MLB. He’s also been driving the ball more for an impressive .322/.357/.486/.843 line. He’s been even more dominating this season with a .353/.391/.519/.910 line in SF which is a pitcher’s park. He’s 10th in MLB with a 158 OPS+. For comparison’s sake, Josh Hamilton’s OPS+ is 161 and Robinson Cano‘s is 151 – so it’s clear Melky is having an elite season.
So should the Yanks look to bring him back? He turns 28 next season so he’s 4 years younger than Swisher which means he’ll get a longer and more lucrative deal. With the budget crunch and Cano & Granderson’s Free agency coming in 2014, any commitments the team makes this off-season will have major impact on what they can or cannot afford the following yr. If they go big on a FA OF like Cabrera this Winter, it would make it nearly impossible to bring Cano & Granderson back. But if the Yanks sign Melky and he’s as good as he’s been the last 2 years they could afford to let Grandy go in 2014 and go with an OF of Brett Gardner in CF, Melky & a cheap 3rd guy from within the system. Someone from the Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte group should be ready to contribute by then to pair with a veteran caddy/platoon partner (think an Andruw Jones-type player) as the 3rd OF.
To me, Melky’s turnaround seems for real and I think this team seriously needs a player with his talents. He makes contact (only 13.1 K%) and hits for a high average with above average power. Despite average to below average metrics, he plays solid defense, runs the bases well and is a switch-hitter who hits well from both sides of the plate. The Yankee players like him as he grew up with a lot of them and can play in NY. The Yanks have hard decisions to make as they can’t keep all 3 of Swisher, Grandy & Cano – and if you add Melky, Granderson may be gone as well as Swish. I think it would be a good move though to keep the team young & versatile and to provide the badly needed high batting average and contact skills that Melky provides. It’s nice to live by the HR, but I think it’s more important to have a balanced lineup. Melky has become a .300 hitter with 20 HR power which is rare in today’s game but more like the players from the Yankee dynasty of the 90s. Those teams had guys like Bernie, O’Neill & Jeter who were professional hitters and could hit 20 HRs,
I don’t fault Cashman for trading Melky because he WAS immature & lazy. He needed a wake-up call and it took the trade to Atlanta and eventually being cut for him to smell the coffee. Now that he’s proven he’s Yankee caliber, Cashman needs to give the Melk-Man a call this November. I think 4-5 yearsl worth $12-14 per yr would be in the ballpark. What say you all? Should the Yankees look at Melky this Winter…..stick with Swisher…or go another direction?
Posted on July 12, 2012, in Hot Stove, Player Analysis, Signing & Trade Speculation and tagged Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Melky Cabrera, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano. Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.