Joe Torre was a charter member. He used to say that the Melkman gave the team energy. He even kicked Johnny Damon out of center to give Melky a full-time job. Brian Cashman scoffed last winter at the idea of trading Cabrera.
Many fans are the same way. They love Melky. And Joe Girardi is with you.
Look at what happened in the seventh inning last night. In a critical point of the game, Girardi sent Cabrera up as a pinch hitter and used Pudge Rodriguez as a pinch runner. That would be the Pudge Rodriguez.
But Girardi was so determined to play the lefty/righty matchup game that he sent up the switch-hitting Cabrera. Plus, you know, he’s Melky.
Cabrera did what he normally does, he made an out. Cabrera is 68 of 301 (.226) since May 1 with 14 extra-base hits, 23 RBI and 24 runs scored.
Of the 11 players who have been regular center fielders in the American League this season, here is where Cabrera ranks:
10th in BA (.242)
10th in RBI (35)
10th in OBP (.298)
12th in runs (39)
11th in OPS (.638)
It’s a bit of toss-up with Nick Swisher. But you would take virtually every other CF in the league instead of Melky. Cabrera is at .260/.315/.370 since the start of the 2007 season. That’s 62 percent of his career. In other words, that is what he is, a .685 OPS guy. Given his decline since the start of the 2007 season, he’s probably not even that.
Yes, he’s an above-average defensive player (albeit 7th in range factor in the AL). But that is not compensating for his bat at this point. Torii Hunter, B.J. Upton, Jacoby Ellsbury (and Coco Crisp), Carlos Gomez and Curtis Granderson are better in the field. Probably Grady Sizemore, too.
One nice throw a week doesn’t make up for a .298 OBP. Not even close.
No, the Yankees don’t need an All-Star at every position. But $215 million should get a reasonably productive player at every position.
Cabrera will be back in the lineup tonight. But the Yankees have to hope that Austin Jackson (.294/.369/.445 at Trenton) or Brett Gardner makes a run at the job next spring. Cabrera is a decent player. But he’d be a nice fourth outfielder.