Melky madness

Melky Cabrera failed as a starter but has hit four home runs as a role player, so the Yankees should make him a starter again. If he doesn’t play well when starting, they can make him a role player again, and if he hits a few more home runs coming off the bench, they can make him a starter again. If he slumps, they can always put him back in the reserve role. Assuming he does well there, he might be ready for another shot at starting, and … and … and …

There are three possibilities right now:
1.  The last 26 Cabrera at-bats outweigh the previous 1500 or so, and Cabrera has become a slugging outfielder.
2.  Cabrera is having one those transient streaks, like the one he had precisely a year ago.
3.  The Yankees have found a job for Cabrera in which he can actually be useful.

There is no reason to rush Cabrera into the lineup given that the upside is mostly nonexistent, while the downside includes damage to Brett Gardner’s career. Not that Gardner needs any extra help with that. He’s played terrific defense and runs the bases well, but the walks aren’t there, and since the power isn’t going to be there, the walks have to be there if he’s going to hit enough to play. Gardner is 15 games in, and needs more time to rediscover his patience. If he can’t get there, perhaps he’s not the answer this year, or not ever. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Cabrera is the answer either. Cabrera could very well be more valuable in 250 at-bats than in 500, and that’s not a missed opportunity for the Yankees, it’s seizing one.

… At least he’s done better than in his first four starts this year than in his first four starts last year. The difference, of course, is that this year he has 253 regular innings in his rearview mirror, plus postseason action. It’s early yet, so we’ll see if this is the refractory year or “first four starts phobia” is just something the big man has to get through.


?    Took my children to the toy store last night. All the Jake Peavy action figures were on clearance.

?    The Jays’ Ricky Romero just hit the DL with an oblique strain. That leaves them with Roy Halladay and prayer. There’s an offensive correction coming soon, too, and then the division’s more natural order will restore itself.

?    Let’s say the Mets’ Daniel Murphy stays at his current rates for the rest of the season, finishing at .315/.367/.407. Does that much offense equal that of a conventional left fielder with average defense? Almost certainly not. Meanwhile, if Mike Pelfrey and John Maine are held back by injuries and Livan Hernandez is Livan Hernandez, there’s just not enough pitching in the organization to make up for it. Of course, the way the Phillies, Braves, Nats, and now Marlins are going, it’s becoming apparent that no team can win the NL East — or more accurately, the first team to identify and fix its biggest weakness will be the winner.

?    Marcus Thames is out indefinitely with a rib cage strain. Traded by the Yankees to the Texas Rangers for Ruben Sierra. Though he has his flaws — he’s no fielder and he doesn’t walk — platoon players with his kind of power are hard to find. He’s played 434 games since leaving the Yankees. The Yankees got 231 games of .249/.295/.429 out of Sierra during his second stay with the team, most of which was contained in a very hot May ’04. Not a move that Brian Cashman wants to frame and put on his mantel.

?    Brandon Inge hit his fifth home run last night. Career as a catcher: .199/.260/.330, which makes him perhaps the worst-hitting catcher ever. As a third baseman: .258/.329/.430, plus defense. Hmm …

?    Yes, but how many home runs has Bobby Abreu hit?

?    The Yankees can at least feel comforted that Cliff Lee pitched well against the Royals, too. At 6-10, the Indians remain in deep trouble.

?      I find it a continual source of amusement that the “new” Jeff Francoeur has but one walk and a .328 OBP. As Abraham Lincoln supposedly said, “If this is tea, please give me some coffee; if this is coffee, please give me some tea.”


  1. letsgoyankees

    Melky can’t keep this up, and we all know it. It’s like asking Swisher to keep up his 400 avg. at the beginning of the season.
    Also, being fair to Gardner, Melky had 3 RBI’s, Gardy had 2, but Gardy saved a run with an absolutely sensational catch in the first when Pettite was pitching. Of course, Gardy didn’t get a walk-off homer!
    Melky had three seasons to prove himself, and he has not. Gardner hasn’t even had one. Give Gardner a shot.

  2. rich_in_nj

    The more compelling logic is to trust your eyes (as well as the available stats).

    Merely watching watching Gardner at the plate reveals that he does not have sufficient mechanics to be considered a ML hitter at this point. He is uppercutting on almost every swing and unlike in ST, he is not using his legs.

    Melky’s wOBA is .472. Gardner’s is .272.

    Consequently, if facts matter…Melky should be starting.

  3. tj0007

    Melky is a 4th outfielder. He did the same thing last year he hits a bunch of homeruns in the beginning of the season. If he plays everyday he will get exposed. Girardi has him in the right role.

    Garnder we dont know what he is. People need to give him more than 2 weeks he is a rookie. Also defensively Gardner is better than Melky.

  4. rich_in_nj

    Melky put up an .840 OPS for two-thirds of the 2007. Gardner will never be able to do that.

    Melky may be a 4th OFer (he’s still too young to know that with certainty), but Gardner may well be a AAAA player.

  5. acepoint01

    Whatever you guys want to argue is fine, but Melky should start against Lester…5-8 with a 2B…no one can hit him on the yanks, so let him play.
    And tj007 is way off when he says Gardner is a better defender. Melky has the better arm and more range. Gardner is faster, but Melky reads the ball and gets to the spot faster…Girardi who isn’t a fan of Melky and likes Gardner better will admit it as well that Melky is the better fielder.
    And the Fenway CF is a *****, Melky knows how to play it!

  6. tj0007

    LOL @ Melky being a better defender than Gardner. Melky cant cover any ground he takes horrible routes to the ball. What game are you watching? Melky looks like he is dizzy chasing after the ball. If Melky was in center when Giambi hit the ball no doubt it would of been a double and a run would of scored. Melky is garbage in the center he is more of a right fielder.

    And he has a good arm but what good is it when it is not accurate he made a horrible throw on Wednesday which should of been a close play at the plate.


    I know I may be a bit old fashion on the whole Melky / Gardner issue, but I believe that the policy should be that they both should be seen as fourth outfielders until such a time should come as one of them should truely stand out as the better player. Girardi has to play them both – give them regular at bats for the forseeable future because neither has done anything to win or lose the job yet.


    I say let both Melky and Gardner split time for now. If Gardner can hit .260 and steal 30+ bases he’ll be useful, but I’m not convinced he will hit even that much. Melky is an ideal 4th OF–he’s marginal as an everyday CF (not that you couldn’t live with him hitting 8/9 if the rest of the line-up is going).

    Long-term, the Yankees CF is not yet on the roster. Maybe it’ll be Austin Jackson in a year or two, or maybe a trade.


    tjoo7….With all due respect..ARe you out of your mind? Your related to Gardner in some way right? What other reason can there be to claim that Gardner is a better fielder than melky?
    Were you not watching the yankees the last couple of years? regardless of his hitting melky always made good plays in center, stealing a hr away from Manny comes to mind as a great example. Not to mention runners learned to respect his arm and not run on him. Lets look at the Stats for a minute, (you know reality….), in 2007 when Melky played a full season he ranked 8th in PO, 8th in FPVT and 1st in A. Oh and he played about 200 innings less than everybody else in the top 10. Melky may not be a great hitter but he is a heck of a fielder. I’m not saying Brett is a bad one, but to say he is better than Melky is ridiculous.


    Gardner stinks. Bottom line. He’s not a major league baseball player. And, terrific defense? He’s been pretty terrible, both on the eyes and by most defensive metrics. This failed experiment needs to end. I said this constantly during spring training and afterward, they should’ve parlayed his spring training into a player who can actually play in the big leagues. Gardner’s a 5th OF’er/pinch runner. That’s it.


    I agree that Melky shouldn’t be an everyday player, but the problem is that neither should Gardner. They’re both 4th outfielders who shouldn’t factor in as important parts of the Yankees long-term plans. As such, Girardi should give both guys AB’s based on match-ups, who is hot, etc. With Nady injured, there will be, unfortunately, playing time for both Melky and Gardner, so let them both get some playing time and see how much Melky regresses/Gardner improves before making any decisions about who’s the full-time CF’er.

    And contrary to what you suggest, the Yankees should not be overly worried about “damage to Brett Gardner’s career.” He swings a baseball bat like he’s trying to hit a slice with a tennis racket; he’s not going to get his walk rate and his BA up to where they need to be to make him merely average, and he’s not going to have a career as anything other than a back-up.


    And I should add: if Yankee stadium does indeed turn out to be a good park for hitting home runs, that argues for playing Melky more at the stadium, because he’s much more likely to take advantage of that fact than Gardner.


    Both of these guys have huge holes – as last game demonstrated when Melky embarrassed himself with that strikeout in the 7th with the bases loaded and none out and Gardner being overmatched and popping up with one out. But, we’ve seen what Melky can (or more likely, can’t) do. Let’s give Gardner a shot – his speed will win some games. I agree with Goldman, Melky is best served as a role player.


    One possibility, though, is that Melky’s 1500 AB’s, having come at the ripe old ages of 20, 21, 22 and 23, are not necessarily representative of his potential. In some ways, you’d like to see him playing every day at Scranton, though Jackson blocks him there. However, while I’m definitely a Melky skeptic, and I’d like to give Gardner a chance to get it rolling (hell, Teixiera’s hitting .220; we know that’s not representative), i don’t think we should COMPLETELY discount the possibility that Melky might figure it out and learn how to hit. i know there’s not a huge list of precedent situations, but I would bet that where there are examples of players who take huge leaps forward in production, they happened at this younger age.

  15. letsgoyankees

    Gardner’s an unknown. Give him a shot. If he totally bombs (below 250 by the ASB, say), then go to Melky.

  16. rich_in_nj


    Gardner has played in the mLs for several years. So the idea that he is an unknown is just not accurate.

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