August 25, 2006
What, Trade Matsui?
There have been some recent comments made by readers of this blog that the Yankees should consider trading Hideki Matsui (in order to ensure playing time for Melky Cabrera in 2007).
As much as I love Melky Cabrera, I do not agree with this suggestion.
Matsui is a winner. In 33 career post-season career games with the Yankees, Hideki has an OBA of .377 and a SLG% of .556 (in 135 AB). Further, in 2004, Hideki Matsui led all Yankees batters with 44 RCAA. (And, last year, he was 5th on the team in RCAA).
Matsui's been out for most of this season and all of a sudden some people think he's turned into Craig Wilson. Absence does make the heart forget, I suppose.
There's no reason why the Yankees cannot rotate Cabrera, Damon, Abreu and Matsui in the outfield and D.H. next year and get everyone enough PA to keep them happy.
Saying hello again to Matsui does not mean having to say good-bye to Cabrera. What it should mean is saying good-bye to Bernie Williams.
Also, look back at Bernie Williams career. In 1991, Bernie got 320 ABs. That was cut back to 261 in 1992. Bernie then became a full-time player in 1993 - and, then, two years later Williams was a star.
I can see Melky doing the same - about 400 AB this season, a little less than that in 2007, then he takes over for Abreu in 2008 (and becomes a full-timer). And, around 2010, he's an All-Star.
There's no need to move Matsui to make this happen for Cabrera.
Posted by Steve Lombardi at August 25, 2006 10:59 AM
Steve - could not agree with you more. On a team that will start 3 30+ outfielders a 22 year old who can play all three outfield positions average to above average and at the very least can hit at replacement level is an essential commodity. I could actually see the team nudging Matsui to more time at DH given that he is the worst of the 3 outfielders.
I'm with you. Someone over at the Banter did a calculation that I'm too lazy to reconstruct, but (even including Sheffield) there was a way to get Melky 140 starts or so with a good OF rotation, and that would be great for keeping Matsui and Damon fresh. Torre just needs to be confident in Melky's CF, which I don't think should be a problem next year. As for a trade, I assume the only thing we'd want to trade Matsui for is pitching, and I just don't see anyone trading for an expensive, over 30 left fielder coming off a wrist injury and giving up a front of the rotation starter to do so, no matter how much yen Matsui brings in from his fanbase.
Sorry to break it to you, but Melky is not the next Bernie, nor is he a future All-Star. He's a very good complimentary player, but not much more. If he has a career along the lines of Juan Encarnacion, Yankee fans should be thrilled.
For someone to even entertain the thought of trading Matsui so Melky could play everyday is downright insane.
Posted by: Mike A. at August 25, 2006 12:29 PM
Before I get hammered I just wanna make it clear that I love Melky as much as the next guy, but my expectations of him are a bit more realistic.
Posted by: Mike A. at August 25, 2006 12:34 PM
~~~Sorry to break it to you, but Melky is not the next Bernie~~~
Yeah, you're right. Melky *can* reach 2B with a throw from the outfield.
Seriously, look at Bernie in his early 20's: Eye at the plate, HR power under 20, and the ability to track balls in the OF. Sounds like Melky now, no?
Posted by: Steve Lombardi at August 25, 2006 01:29 PM
Encarnacion is not a bad player, but Melky already gets on base way more than he ever has. I would definitely be disappointed if that was his ceiling. I'm not expecting Melky to turn into Miggy Cabrera (or even Bernie Williams, who put up HOF numbers in his prime), but he looks to have a lot of upside. We'll see.
Completely off subject but they are reporting on ESPN.com that Big Papi was hospitalized due to an irregular heartbeat. Just wondering if he can still be on his errectile dysfuction pills Elevex.
Ortiz - It's probably got to due with the fact that he's, ahem, "overweight" and plays the most physically un-demanding position in the game.
Melky - The trends may be the same as Bernie, but talent-wise it's just not there. There's nothing wrong with him becoming The First Melky as opposed to The Next Bernie.
Posted by: Mike A. at August 25, 2006 01:56 PM
I gotta go with Mike on this one. I like Melky and Melky may well become a very good player, but the odds of him turning into a Bernie Williams are not good. As bad as Bernie is now, in his prime, he racked up 7 straight 30+ years, topping out at 64. He had 350+ before his decline. Maybe he's not in the top tier of the elite, but he's still among the best of his contemporaries. That's a lot to ask. I'd love to see it happen (except for the decline), but I wouldn't hold my breath or be disappointed if he turned out to be more of a Bobby Murcer or Roy White caliber of player.
I hate labelling anyone as "The Next. . ." That person never lives up to the billing, mostly because he isn't the other guy and doesn't play in the same era. An OF of Matsui, Damon and Abreu with Melky in the middle, er, fingers got away from me there, Melky as the rover sounds right. The crazy thing is that leaves Shef out in the cold. I think he sees that handwriting on the wall and that is why he's prepping for next year. Yes, he'll be a year older but he doesn't have this year's wear and tear on him -- outside of what should be a fully rehabbed wrist.
Unless Cashman/Torre want a Shef/Giambi DH-1B combo next year. But the Yanks will still need need someone else in there every fifth game, when Wang is the hurler.
These are problems I like; as opposed to the KC Royals "do we have anyone who can play this frippin' game" problems.
>>>...but I wouldn't hold my breath or be disappointed if he turned out to be more of a Bobby Murcer or Roy White caliber of player.
(Bobby Murcer throwing down his microphone.... storming out of the room)
Hey... leave my boy Bobby alone! ;)
Posted by: Athos333 at August 25, 2006 02:57 PM
I see more Abreu in Melky. His plate discipline is execellent, and he has a very strong arm. I think he could hit between 18-25 homers a year, work alot of counts, and have a .400 obp.
Maybe it is just me, but I see a far better future for Melky. Hard to remember he did not start the season on the team and that he is a rookie, yet leading the AL in outfield assists.
He is a potential 5 tool player, learning and getting better every day.
I see some parallels to Carlos Beltran in terms of ability and makeup.
Comparing Melky through yesterday to Beltran's first full year in KC, 1999.
Melky 11 of 16 68.75%
Beltran 27 of 35 77.14%
Melky 40-42 of 369 AB
Beltran 46-123 of 663 AB
Beltran's offensive numbers in terms of RBI and HR is much stronger but I see Melky developing in that direction.
Food for thought.
Carlos Beltran has more talent in the mole on the side of his head than Melky has in his entire body.
Melky ain't the next Bernie, and he certainly ain't the next Beltran.
You guys are just setting yourself up for disappointment thinking he'll be that good.
Posted by: Mike A. at August 25, 2006 03:27 PM
FWIW, Murcer had a better single-season peak than Bernie. He just didn't sustain the level as long, but 250 RCAA is still nothing to sneeze at. And Beltran thus far isn't anywhere near Bernie or Murcer.
And Beltran thus far isn't anywhere near Bernie or Murcer.
You have no idea how happy you just made Murcer with that comment. You also probably broke the heart of several Mets fans...
Those same "readers of this blog" who suggest that we trade Matsui should but down the pipe.
dpk's post brought to mind Melky's walk against Billy Wagner as he melted down earlier this season...that was super cool.
Come on Bernie has been the most overrated playing in BASEBALL not counting pitchers since he came up.
The guy is a ONE tool player - he can hit, and hit really well. Terrible in the field, no arm, no jump on the ball, can't steal bases, and he isn't a leader in the club house.
Melky could be just as good if not better.
ok, Mike A., I have no problem with you stating that Melky doesn't have enough talent. But you need to define talent, which you have not done.
Melky has speed, plate discipline, a strong throwing arm, shown big play ability, and occasional power. What am I missing? He may not pan out, but I cannot see where the missing ingredient is talent. He clearly has plenty of it. What specific "talent" is he missing?
In his prime seasons, Bernie was top 10 in the league for FP and RF, and led all outfielders in putouts. Bernie always got good jumps on the ball - they were just usually in the opposite direction. He had the speed to make up for it in his prime with his version of the Joe Shlabotnik "spectacular catch of a routine fly ball". But he did catch the ball more often than not. Offensively, he contributed 279 RCAA and ranked 14th in the league with a .937 OPS. I have no defense of his baserunning or his arm. All in all, he was never the best OF his time, offensively, defensively, or otherwise, but he was a darn good one.
A few years back I concluded that Juan Rivera was a "no tools" player. Didn't hit exceptionally well, or for much power; didn't run exceptionally well; didn't catch or throw exceptionally well. Melky is better in every area of the game. But I don't really consider him a 5 tool player. He won't hit for Bernie's power number over his career (minus 2 points), but he runs the bases better (i.e, more instinctively and aggresively) despite not have Bernie's straightline speed (plus 1 point). My biggest knock against Melky is that as a role player, I wish he had more stolen base potential for late-in-the-game situations. Maybe dropping 5-10 poumds would help in that area. Better arm than Bernie by a mile (plus 1.5 points). Still trying to judge his range, but I'd say it's close to a young Bernie (neutral score). The one thing that is drop dead clear is that Melky is our 4th outfielder next year. Time to hang up the cleats Bernie. We ought to skip Bernie Williams Day in favor of Bernie Williams Week. Polish up the 51 plaque for Monument Park, and hope to hell Melky ends up with 4 rings as well. Maybe 5 with some luck this year. This brings me to next year's roster. In addition to the starting 8 (Posada, Giambi, Cano, Jeter, A-Rod, Matsui, Damon, & Abreu) and Melky, the Yanks will likely carry 11 or 12 pitchers. One goes to the back-up catcher (not Fasano). That leaves 4 or 5 spots for position players... I'd like Cairo (first, second, short and outfield in a pinch), Wilson (first, outfield, and DH), Sheff (first, outfield DH), an upgrade over Green (middle infield and third) (preferably some with great speed and a solid glove - no stick required). If Sheff is able to perform near 2005 standards, the line up will produce 1000+ runs and the Yankees win the AL East in a walk. To maximize Melky, Torre needs to make sure he can play all three outfield positions with equal alacrity.