Thursday, January 5, 2012

Twelve for 2012: Melky Cabrera

I saved the other FNG for last because Melky is short for Melchior**, and legend has it that one of the Magi was named Melchior. Since this is the Twelfth Night--the Eve of the Epiphany--it seemed best to save Melky Cabrera for the end. Most folks did not have poor Melky in mind when the Giants floated the idea of trading Jonathan Sanchez. I think the expectation was that they'd get prospects in return. But with Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand, and Cody Ross all leaving the club it should not have surprised us that they would want immediate help in the outfield. One thing about Melky I think they liked was "706" as in 706 PA last season. That's a lot of playing time--1339-2/3 innings, in fact. The 2011 Giants used the DL twenty-five times, the most in the majors. You have to figure they were looking for a guy they could plug in every day.

So which Melky are the Giants going to get? The "breakout" Melky from 2011 (.305/.339/.470, 4.2 WAR), the out-of-shape 2010 Melky (.255/.317/.354, -1.0 WAR), or the 2009 World Series champion Yankee Melky (.274/.336/.416, 1.6 WAR)? Cabrera is 27, the age where we always used to talk about a player coming into his prime. The Milk Man rolled out a .769 OPS in his minor-league career, and last year (.809) was the first time he exceeded that in six full seasons in the majors. His career mark is .729 (93 OPS+). Bill James projects .279/.332/.413 (.745) for our FNG which I think undersells him a bit, and ZiPS says .284/.330/.435 (.765) for a 106 OPS+ and 2.7 WAR. Hey, I'll take it!

The trade for Jonathan Sanchez (and, lest we forget, Ryan Verdugo) has been hashed out ad nauseum, I won't dive into that again. There's plenty of digital ink out there for those of you who need more analysis. At this point what's done is done and I'm on board with it--he's our lad now. I'm ready to chant "Le-che, Le-che, Le-che" in the left field bleachers, how about you?


**Or Melquiades (I haven't found a source that lists him other than "Melky") which I'm guessing is the Spanish version of the name, or at least an homage to one of los Reyes. The festival is called El Día de los Reyes in Spanish-speaking countries. The "Three Wise Men" are often called "The Three Kings" although magus (the Latin magi is plural) is probably better translated as "shaman" or perhaps "astrologer" or "alchemist." Obviously it's the source of the English word "magic." Let's hope we get some Melky-magic in 2012!


Shankbone said...

Sabey Sabes traded for a 27 year old coming off his career year. Let me repeat: a 27 year old! Much has been made of his 332 BABIP. Well, that's about 10% above his career line of 299. Its not like he had a 375-400 BABIP and his career was at 250. Melky ate and drank his way off the Yanks (with pics of Robbie Cano and womenz to prove it!) and almost fell out of bezball. He came more than correct last year. I followed him all year, expecting him to fall back (ahem, Vogelsong) but he didn't. Kept Melkin' along, putting up statz.

We'll have to see, but he'll field well (especially if Pagan is in center instead), run the bases better than Ross/Burrell/Rowand, and I think everybody looking at his career stats and expecting massive regression is going to be happily mistaken. He will not be Beltran with the bat. But he'll go to the assigned field willingly and we won't have to sweat his knees running to third or coming in on a fly ball either.

I do wish we held onto Verdugo, but that's another story.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Yeah, I feel like everyone is really down on this trade but I see it as a reasonable risk. Melky (like JS) goes to arb this year and FA next. He's got something to prove, esp. after not really living up to expectations in Yankee-land. I think, like Cody Ross, he's a good all-rounder, but younger and with a bit more upside. I wish JS well in KC, but I think he is who he is and they are going to get a talented, often brilliant, but inconsistent starter.

I spent too many years bitching and moaning about Sabes and Co., then they put together a championship club with a homegrown core and key acquisitions, thus proving they know more about baseball than me or any other internet scribe. I think the 2012 club is going to kick ass.

nomisnala said...

Saying that Sabeab knows more than any interet scribe or yourself, and then telling us that the 2012 club will kick ass, does not exactly bring out a ton of confidence in your outlook, as you already described your knowledge base as flawed. We had Ross and Beltran, but we let them go, and traded for Melky and Pagan. I hope everything works out, but we threw away guys in positions we already had, and then traded for others to replace them with a guy who was at least our best 5th starter, and a guy that may not be easily replaced. ie; Zito and/or Surkamp will most likely not live up to Jonathan Sanchez potential. Like the previous poster however, I could be wrong. It just would have been too easy if we signed Rollins and Beltran, and scored 4.5 runs per game, with this pitching staff and won over 100 games. Management wants to make it a race, and not a run away giants train.

M.C. O'Connor said...

Beltran was a free agent, as was Ross. They were not "thrown away." They replaced Ross with Cabrera and decided Beltran wasn't worth $30M. Right choice? Wrong choice? Who knows? But neither player was the Giants to keep. I think the moves were reasonable risks and that money should be spent on Cain, Lincecum, arb raises for Sandoval, etc. I don't think dumping dollars on Rollins or Beltran makes the team enough better to be worth it. I like what they have and think they will be very strong.

Ron said...

It's all well and good to say that the Giants' plan is to save their money for extensions for Cain & Lincecum. The only problem is that they have yet to put their money where our mouths are. I make that distinction, because we have all just assumed that's their plan - they've never really said that it is.

I am extremely afraid that something akin to the following scenario will play out:

- 2012 Pre-Season, the Giants make a cursory attempt to extend Cain; Cain & his Agent just sort of chuckle.

- 2012/2013 Off-Season, the Giants dance around, think that Cain really wants to stay in SF, give Cain their so-called best offer, then sort of act all miffed & such, when the Marlins or Braves swoop in & sign him to a big Contract (kind of a Rangers C. J. Wilson thing).

- 2012/2013 Off-Season, the Giants make a cursory attempt to extend Lincecum; Lincecum & his Agent just sort of chuckle.

- 2013/2014 Off-Season, the Giants dance around, think that Lincecum really wants to stay in SF, give Lincecum their so-called best offer, then sort of act all miffed & such, when the Yankees, Angels, or Mariners swoop in & sign him to a big Contract (kind of a Rangers C. J. Wilson thing again).

If it does, & we slide back toward mediocrity, I will be even more unhappy that we didn't spend some of our money on bigger Free Agents.

If we really intend to sign these guys to fair Contracts, we need to do so right now & avoid the drama & possibility that we get played later by money-grubbing Agents. When it comes right down to do it, as a percentage of the person's total income, who does better, if Cain signs for $22M/year instead of $20M/year - Matt Cain, or his Agent? The answer is obvious.

(I don't want to hear anyone chanting 'Leche, Leche' - it's insulting. Let's come up with something more original than that.)

Shankbone said...

I'd say Johnny Sanchez didn't live up to Sanchez potential, and I expect that to continue. When a guy as good and as reasonable as Dave Righetti can't reach you - as was apparent in games all last year - maybe he's more Oliver Perez and less Randy Johnson, for good. Melky realized he was going to fail out of baseball. Sanchez hasn't thought that far down the line yet. His conditioning and attitude are terrible. I'll miss him a lot for the occasional incredible performances, but he was not in the Giants long term plans simply because he did not earn it, day in day out.

Beltran - would have have signed for that same contract? Did you see the knee buckle in the first game, remember the wrist injury or see the ice packs on his knees? Ross - wants 3 years, dropped to 2 years. That's not in the plan either, and if Sabey Sabes had locked him up a la Huff for 2 years after 2010 people would be screaming to the rafters the way they do with Huff after the season Ross just had.

I've been a big fan of Pagan for a long time, and Melky - "Mel-ky" just like "Fre-ddy" - showed something last year. Faster on the basepaths, solid OFs (yes we'll miss Torres range) and pretty good with the stick at a 1 year 4-5MM price is not a bad move. Be thankful its not Coco Crisp or David Dejesus on 3 year contracts says I.

The extensions - I always have been scared they're going to drop Cain and sign up Wilson. They've made several public proclamations they intend to keep both. We'll see. I think it will be tough because you're going to have to back up the Brinks truck, twice. I think this is one time where Sabean's stubbornness might benefit though - he drafted both players, they proved his pitching first theory right and he won with them. They are the biggest and best indication of his success. I think that counts for a lot. Plus he is loyal to players he likes... until he isn't. Finally, the marketers, led by Baer, know that Cain/Timmy are the heart of that matter, and that counts for a lot as well. The Rainy Day Fund Crew maybe a bit cheap, but they're not stupid, they know pitching and home grown starts are the heart of the team. I expect pins and needles and an eventual Cain signing in March, and then the debate will be "why did you give a pitcher 7 years I'd never do that".

And if not, I'm dusting off my lunatic fringe card.

M.C. O'Connor said...

I admit, I've still got mine, bit wrinkled at the edges and no longer in the wallet, but still around.

I really think this is the team we've all been waiting for. Young, homegrown, fun ballplayers. Speaking of fun, bought the DVD of the Showtime series (The Franchise). Despite the frustrating season it has been enjoyable so far. I love how it starts with Ol' Boch sparkin' up a fatty cigar.