Should Cashman bring Melky back?

Melky is in excellent shape these days

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?

About fishjam25

Was a 4-yr Pitcher and Communications Major at Seton Hall University in the 90s. His knowledge & opinion of the game comes from his background as a player and ardent lifetime Yankee fan. However, Fishjam also incorporates sabermetrics and statistical support to form a well-rounded view of the game.

Posted on July 12, 2012, in Hot Stove, Player Analysis, Signing & Trade Speculation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. Fishjam… nothing but the best from you, big guy!

    “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.”

    I knew someone would be better able to get that point across. I think going after a player like Melky would make sense, just hope the bright lights and all the distractions NY has doesn’t hurt his game!

  2. Cris Pengiucci

    The idea of moving Gardner to CF and bringing in (back) Melky is one worth considering. The question becomes do you believe he’ll provide more value over the course of his contract (relative to salary) than Granderson? You also need to consider who else is available instead of Melky and how will they produce over the course of their contracts? Tough questions. Good, thought provoking article.

    • Thanks for the comment Chris. Cashman brought in Granderson to replace Melky and it was the right move for 2010 & 2011 but right now Melky is a better player no matter what metric you want to go by. Granderson hits more HRs but Melky is 3.5 yrs younger, in his prime & trending upwards. His skils as a switch-hitting, contact driven, high average hitter fit in better than Granderson’s 26% strikeout rate, low BA, HR or bust approach.

      Of the other FAs there is 1 elite option in Hamilton and I covered his question marks. His talent certainly is tantalizing but paying him $20M into his mid 30s is risky. Bourn and Victorino are possibilities but are in their early 30s and reliant on speed. Melky is the ony guy still young enough (will be 28) and productive to be worth signing for 4-5 yrs for his 28-31,32 yr seasons.

      Justin Upton might be available in a trade . He’s signed for the next 3 yrs @ $38.5M for his 25 – 27 yr old seasons and is extremley talented .But he’s having a poor season with only a 100 OPS+ this yr and will require at least 3 big-time prospects in a trade.

      Trade for a 3B (I like Chase Headley), slide ARod to DH and you have a nice lineup next year:

      SS- Jeter/Gardner
      RF – Melky
      2B – Cano
      1B – Teixeira
      LF – Granderson
      DH – ARod
      3B – Headley
      C – Martin/Romine/C?
      CF – Gardner/Jeter

      • Fish – that must be a typo Jeter in CF?

      • Nice lineup Fish. I know you are a big fan of Headley. Who do you have on the bench with that team?

      • Fish – we need a 3rd baseman badly……mike moustakas is another target. The Moose will hit 40 at Yankee Stadium and relace Arods anemic lost power.

        • I don’t see the Royals giving up Moustakas. He’s part of their youth movement and he’s going to be affordable for awhile. The Yankees would have to way overpay in prospects.

          • I’m with you Doug. K.C. has a lot of talented youth. They need to hold onto them as longs as they can.

          • Douglas Rau – as Don Corleone said “we’ll make them an offer they can’t refuse”. The Moose is better than any of our prospects.

          • I agree, KC would want to keep Moustakas since he has 5 years of team control left.
            Douglas/Twasp – what do you think of Chase headley?
            At first glance his #s are underwhelming, but when you remember he plays in PETCo Park he could be great in a different setting. the last 2 years he’s had a 121 OPS+ and away from petco he’s a stud. This year he’s hit .274/.375/.465/.840 – 138 OPS+ on the road. Move him to YS and his numbers would be great.

            He’s a 28-yr old , switch-hitter who has 2 more years of arbitration remaining so he’s affordable. SD sucks and would probably be glad to move him because Headley is so poor at Petco and they have a young 3B coming up behind him. Jed Gyorko is a top 50 prospect who is hitting .344/.388/.610/.998 in AAA with 20 HRs & 68 RBI – he needs a place to play.

            Headley plays a good 3B and has also played corner OF so he could play some OF & DH when ARod plays 3B. What do you think?

            • Headley is a good choice. And certainly more gettable than the Moose. But TWASP wants the Mooooooooose! He’s going to be a STUD for the next 12 years.

  3. Hmmm…….

    Why do so many players perform poorly for the Yankees and flourish elsewhere? Does it all have to do with the pressures and/or distractions of NY? Or does Yankee Mgt have to take some of the blame?

    1. AJ – did they mess with his mechanics too much?
    2. Joba – did they mess with his head too much? Joba rules.
    3. Melky- did they not mentor/coach him and help him do the things necessary to reach his potential?
    4. Ian Kennedy – could he have had the year he had last year if he was on the Yankees? And got better pitching advice?

    Are we letting Yankee Mgt off the hook to some degree by saying : they wouldn’t have done that here, they couldn’t handle NY, they weren’t dedicated, you can’t win every trade, etc…

    • Why do so many players perform poorly and flourish with the Yankees?
      1-Swisher-came here and took off.
      2-Eppley, who?
      3-Rapada. again who?
      4-Chavez, has been a great find, to bad he can’t play a lot more
      5-Granderson, came over as a platoon player, went to Long and asked for help, you see the difference
      6-Logan was a mistfit and very up and down, he has come to be very dependable.

      1-Your question on AJ is a good one, I don’t know!
      2-Joba rules were put in place to protect him from Joe T., don’t you guys read anything other than the blogs. Joe T. over used his pitchers even after he was told not to, that is why Cashman traded Scott Proctor.
      3-They tried to help him but if one thinks he has no need for help, what can you do…trade him and open a spot for someone else.
      4-IPK, he is where he is because he would get killed in the Beast of the East…that is why very few or any AL teams have gone after him.

      Good enough for you twasp? lol 🙂

      • Good job Ken….. In your answers you have placed no blame on Yankee Mgt whatsoever… are now the #1 fan in Michael (Money) P’s Koolaid Drinking Club.

        • Again, you should read more, what I said is facts and the truth, think on it before you say things like that. The reason I stick up for Cashman is because so many fans only look at what was done, not why? I just pointed out the whys for some of the things fans have No idea of, one must dig to find things out…you know the stuff reporters are suppose to do but, don’t anymore!
          Cashman has made bad deals, more than I would like but, so have other GMs.

      • Ken – speaking of reading – did you pickup ” Damn Yankees” – very entertaining book ..with stories on Catfish, Knoblach, Mickey….

        Also you would LOVE “The Captain” about Derek Jeter …with some backstage knocks on him. Bill James is in the book with an analysis that shows Jeter is the worst defender at ANY position in the history of baseball. Also some NY Post writers say that Jeter was a bad captain because he never accepted Aroid on the team.

        • No I haven’t been out and around lately but, I will get it when I do.
          By the way all the talk of Jeter is done as far as I am concerned, and I never said he wouldn’t make it on the fist ballot…I said he doesn’t deserve it, all the other stuff they give him credit for WS victory etc., those are team records, not his. That is my last word on it!

          • Yes, Ken, you never said Jeter wouldn’t make it on first ballot, you said he shouldn’t make it on first ballot based on an unwritten rule ( that only you know about ) .

            • twasp..
              I have more respect for you than to think you have turned to the dark side, I have never said that so if you are going to say I said something get it right will you! If you had stopped at the second Ballot word…you would have been right! The rest of it had to do with unanimous pick, nothing to do with anyones 1st ballot pick. Again, do some reading on the unanimous vote, you will find I am 100% right on that one…I just double checked on it and few days ago. 🙂

              • Ken tomorrow Jeter needs 1 hit for 3,200 I know you will be on pins and needles waiting for that to happen. 🙂

              • You da man Ken…. I want to get your position on Jeter correct so :

                1. Jeter might make HOF on first ballot
                2. Jeter should not make it on first ballot in your opinion.
                3. Jeter should not make it unanimously based on an unwritten rule


        • twasp, didn’t James work for the Sox, thats like taking advise from Peter Gammons on the Yanks!

          • Yeah ..Doug….Bill James works for the Red Sox as an advisor. In the book ” The Captain” by Ian O’Conner ……James’s is asked if he would want Jeter on the Red Sox considering the results of his analysis of Jeter’s poor feielding…….and James says ” yes, he is tremendous player, for reasons I need not explain”.

            So I think James appreciates Jeter’s game and understands Jeter’s offensive skills and intangibles.

  4. Ken – the question “why is Jeter a first time HOFer” was asked on the Yahoo answers site.

    This was voted best answer :
    “3,000 hits — he’s less than 300 short. Lifetime batting average well over .300. Six Pennants and four World Championships — and counting. The defining player on the defining team of the era. One of the top three shortstops of all time, along with Honus Wagner and Cal Ripken — given that Ernie Banks, Robin Yount and Alex Rodriguez all spent significant chunks of their careers at other positions. And, as far as anyone knows, no steroids, no betting on baseball, no crimes.

    You’d have to be a pretty sick, twisted, demented Met or Red Sox fan not to expect him to get in on the first ballot.”

    TWASP thinks that last line is funny.

  5. Melky smoking a bong:

  6. Melky’s best catch…..with the Yankees…….STDS

  7. Melky’s in better shape than the hookers he dated.

  8. First ballot HOFers :

    If Paul Molitor Kirby Puckett and Robin Yount are first timers, shouldn’t Jeter be one too?

    Player Year PCT of Vote
    Rickey Henderson 2009 94.8
    Cal Ripken 2007 98.5
    Tony Gwynn 2007 97.6
    Wade Boggs 2005 91.9
    Paul Molitor 2004 85.2
    Dennis Eckersley 2004 83.2
    Eddie Murray 2003 85.3
    Ozzie Smith 2002 91.7
    Dave Winfield 2001 84.5
    Kirby Puckett 2001 82.1
    Nolan Ryan 1999 98.8
    George Brett 1999 98.2
    Robin Yount 1999 77.5
    Mike Schmidt 1995 96.5
    Steve Carlton 1994 95.6
    Reggie Jackson 1993 93.6
    Tom Seaver 1992 98.8
    Rod Carew 1991 90.5
    Jim Palmer 1990 92.6
    Joe Morgan 1990 81.8
    Carl Yastrzemski 1989 94.6
    Johnny Bench 1989 96.4
    Willie Stargell 1988 82.4
    Willie McCovey 1986 81.4
    Lou Brock 1985 79.8
    Brooks Robinson 1983 92
    Hank Aaron 1982 97.8
    Frank Robinson 1982 89.2
    Bob Gibson 1981 84
    Al Kaline 1980 88.3
    Willie Mays 1979 94.7
    Ernie Banks 1977 83.8
    Mickey Mantle 1974 88.2
    Warren Spahn 1973 83.2
    Sandy Koufax 1972 86.9
    Stan Musial 1969 93.2
    Ted Williams 1966 93.4
    Jackie Robinson 1962 77.5
    Bob Feller 1962 93.8
    Ty Cobb 1936 98.2
    Babe Ruth 1936 95.1
    Honus Wagner 1936 95.1
    Christy Mathewson 1936 90.7
    Walter Johnson 1936 83.6

  9. Matt S……we need a poll…….should Jeter be first ballot HOF or not?

  10. No way am I a fan of Swisher so I would welcome the Melkman back. Nice article Fish. Very well done.

  11. Wonderful points altogether, you simply gained a brand new reader. What might you suggest in regards to your post that you simply made a few days ago? Any positive?

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