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November 05, 2007

Whither Melky - Now And Beyond?

Anyone who has read this blog regularly over the last two years knows that I am a huge fan of Melky Cabrera. He’s one of my favorite members of the team.

Still, when assessing his future, I try and remain objective.

Defensively, right now, I think Melky is a “Gold Glove” type left- or right-fielder. The combination of his young legs, desire, and extremely strong throwing arm is what makes him a plus-defender from the outfield corner positions. This also allows him to play centerfield – now. But, truth be told, Cabrera is not a true centerfielder. And, within a few years, he would be more of a minus in center than a plus – with the glove. However, this does not change his defensive worth from the corner spots – and I believe that he would be a “Gold Glove” type left- or right-fielder for years to come.

Offense is the sticky spot for Melky. Just playing around with the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia – I came up with one historical “comp” for Cabrera (in terms of young outfielders who have performed the same, relatively speaking, offensively, in an equal amount of playing time). It’s Jose Cardenal:

And, there’s the issue. There’s no shame in being Jose Cardenal - he had close to 2,000 hits in his big league career. But, in reality, over his career, Cardenal was basically a “doesn’t kill ya but won’t thrill ya” type batter. In today’s game, you want a little more than that from your corner outfielders – even if they play Gold Glove defense.

This is not to say, for sure, that Melky Cabrera is going to end up exactly like Jose Cardenal. But, it does suggest that 2008 is a big year for Melky – in that he needs to be more consistent over the whole season and move his overall batting numbers up a few notches. If not, then it becomes a larger question for the Yankees – in terms of how to use Cabrera in a way that’s best for the team (after 2008).

This could mean that Melky Cabrera does not get to play in the new Yankee Stadium as a member of the New York Yankees – or, at least not as a starter. As a big fan of his, I hope this does not turn out to be true. But, again, being objective, I think Yankees fans should brace themselves that it’s possible.

Posted by Steve Lombardi at November 5, 2007 12:01 PM

Comments

According to Bill James Plus/Minus statistics, Melky was among the worst defensive CF in the league.

I'm sure he is not as bad as the statistics say thanks to his speed and arm, but his skills have always translated into a corner spot.

Posted by: Dan LaToraca [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 5, 2007 12:33 PM

Dan - I saw those stats as well.

Here they are, if anyone wants to review them:

http://www.billjamesonline.net/fieldingbible/2007-plus-minus-leaders.asp

Posted by: Steve Lombardi [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 5, 2007 12:41 PM

According to Bill James Plus/Minus statistics, Melky was among the worst defensive CF in the league.
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That's why it's always good to see things with your own eyes. No matter what you think of Melky's ability, there is simply no way he was one of the worst defensive centerfielders in baseball. How many times did we see him save his pitchers?

If I'm being totally honest, I think Melky will probably be traded soon. He has a smidgen of value right now and I think Cashman is smart enough to sell high. I love Melky -- I love his play in the field, love his arm, really love his attitude and relationship with Cano -- but is he a long-term fixture on this team? Nah, I don't think so. I guess it's possible -- with the continued physical deterioration of Matsui -- that he ends up being the leftfielder of the future. But I personally think centerfield will shortly belong to Austin Jackson. (I'm not saying I WANT him to be traded; I just don't think they will hesitate to include him in a deal.)

Speaking of Melky... Joe Torre said something really hilarious while on M&MD the other day about him. He was talking about how he believed in Melky and wanted to help him settle in. Mike almost gave Torre credit for developing Melk. What no one bothered to mention is how Torre trusted Melky so much he used to take him out late in games for Bubba Crosby.

Posted by: baileywalk [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 5, 2007 12:46 PM

i agree bailey. i dont know HOW these D studies rate Melky so low.

Posted by: Travis G. [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 5, 2007 05:19 PM

Once gain,this is a function of scouting over "moneyball".If one watches Melky everyday,he sees a gutty,gritty player that makes defensive plays when they count.Stats alone cannot quantify or qualify this man's talent.

Posted by: butchie22 [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 5, 2007 10:36 PM