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Posts Tagged ‘Melky Cabrera’

As good as the AL East is, the opposite may be true of the AL Central. I don’t project any of the five teams to win 90 games – and two could lose more than 100. This is a division that is loaded with teams filled with mediocre talent. In fact, the most interesting team to watch may be the Royals, if only because they may actually have days where they start 9 rookies.

The best of the worst is, once again, the Minnesota Twins. Projected to win the Central by three games, they’ll win based on sound fundamental play, two star players (Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer) and because they’ll be able to bottom feed on 36 games with two of the worst teams since the St. Louis Browns. The starting rotation is suspect, featuring the injury prone tandem of Francisco Liriano and Carl “Strained Buttocks” Pavano. The strongest element of last year’s division winning team, the bullpen, was wracked by free-agent defections – meaning this year’s pen relies on the much-traveled Matt Capps and a not-quite-healthy Joe Nathan. In fact, injury carry-overs from last year could get the Twins out of the gate slowly, as nobody is quite sure if Morneau is sufficiently recovered from last season’s concussion to play first full time yet. If they do start slowly, the crown my well fall to Chicago.

The White Sox made quite a splash this off-season, re-signing Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski and landing Adam Dunn as their new DH. Unfortunately, they would have been better off looking for a starting 3rd baseman and a couple of outfielders, because the current line-up may be one of baseball’s worst group of defenders we’ve seen in a while. Which is a shame, because the Pale Hose have the makings of an outstanding pitching staff – perhaps the best in baseball. If Jake Peavy returns to form after his pectoral tear, they’ll have 6 quality starters and a bullpen that features a bevy of quality (if not nationally known) arms. But the offense will once again be a classic three-outcome type, as typified by Dunn: walk, strike-out or homer. Don’t expect much in the way of sustained rallies or guys flying around the bases at US Cellular Field.

The Tigers look destined for a distant third place finish. The best thing going for this team is that they’re managed by future Hall-of-Famer Jim Leyland. But the star player, Miguel Cabrera, is turning into baseball’s version of Charlie Sheen. Actually, Detroit’s middle of the order could feature some good players, with the addition of Victor Martinez joining Magglio Ordonez. The rest of the supporting cast, though, is supect, featuring such luminaries as Brandon Inge. The back of the bullpen could be solid, if Joaquin Benoit can prove last year wasn’t a fluke, Joel Zumaya can stay healthy and Jose Valverde can stop his decline. But both the starting rotation and middle relief corps are a mess. Aside from Justin Verlander, the Tigers are relying on converted relievers, reclamation projects and prayers.

The youth movement is in full swing in Kansas City. After their farm system was ranked #1 by Baseball America, they might as well give the kids a shot – nothing else has worked for the past 20 years. Yes, they traded away Zack Greinke and made a couple of curious signings in old friend Melky Cabrera and Jeff Francouer. But KC’s real aim this year is to see if youngsters Billy Butler, Alex Gordon, Kila Ka’aihue and Eric Hosmer are ready for prime time.

Bringing up the rear is the Cleveland Indians. Once again, the Tribe is looking more like “The Mistake by the Lake” instead of a major-league team. They do have a bona-fide star in Shin-Soo Choo and a star in the making in catcher Carlos Santana. But otherwise, Cleveland is hoping Grady Sizemore shows enough that he can become a viable trade chip. I’m pretty sure Cleveland fans have to be wondering what they’ve done to deserve the Cavaliers, Browns, and this abomination of a baseball team.

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Not an unfamiliar look for Javy

One year ago, the Yankees decided to bring back Javy Vazquez. I, like many people was certainly surprised at the move and the players they gave up for him. I originally hated the deal — and still do at this point — but there were many on the other side of the fence that indicated that things had changed for Javy and to mearly look at his stats. From 2000 through 2009, Javy pitched 200 innings and struck out more than 184 in 9 seasons out of 10. In those seasons between 2000 and 2009 Javy averaged a 3.9 WAR and had a cumlative WAR of 39. Initially, the trade seemed to be a decent trade and most Yankees fans expected a decent year out of Javy who was going to slide into the 4th slot in the rotation.

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The trade deadline has come and gone and Brian Cashman was certainly busy over the final 48 hours, landing three new players. With Lance Berkman, Austin Kearns and Kerry Wood now wearing Pinstripes, let’s look back at what were generally considered the Yankees biggest needs heading into this year’s trade season and see how well Cashman did in addressing them.

  1. Bullpen: The struggles of Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Chan Ho Park this year, along with injuries to Alfredo Aceves, Sergio Mitre and Damaso Marte turned what looked like a major strength at the beginning of the season into a major question mark. Cashman picked up Wood hours after the Indians activated him from the DL. And that’s been Kerry Wood’s big problem throughout his career – the guy just can’t stay healthy. At one time, he was supposed to be the Next Big Thing; now, his career has devolved into that of middle innings guy. Still, Wood has a plus fastball and curve and hitters don’t like to face him. Additionally, acquiring him gave the Yankees the perfect excuse to send Park and his thrill-a-minute pitching style packing, so that’s a plus right there. Also, Cashman gave up virtually nothing to get him, other than money and a future low-grade prospect, so there isn’t much risk involved here. Of course, this doesn’t really address the eighth inning role, but adding a power arm is never a bad idea. Grade: B-
  2. Outfield bench: Replacing Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon and Eric Hinske with Randy Winn and Marcus Thames didn’t exactly pan out. Thames has demonstrated that his all-hit, no-glove reputation is well deserved and Winn played so well he was asked to run away from Yankee Stadium. Enter Austin Kearns. Kearns represents a serious upgrade to this unit. Unlike Thames, he is a better than league-average defender at both corner spots and league-average in center, if needed. He has better than average speed, although it’s never translated to stolen bases. He has decent power from the right side, although not enough to ever be considered a power hitter. In other words, he is the epitome of a fourth outfielder even though his past teams were so awful he found himself thrust into starting roles. Once again, Cashman brought a solid player in from Cleveland for cash or the infamous PTBNL (btw, I want to meet that guy one day – he gets traded A LOT), so there isn’t much risk involved, either. The only thing keeping this from being an “A” is that Kearns doesn’t project as a guy you want starting 3-4 weeks in a row, should a serious injury occur. Grade: B+
  3. Infield Bench: This is the one area that still needs some work. Neither Ramiro Pena nor Kevin Russo are guys you really want to see with a bat in their hands, but the Yankees were unable to find any help. A waiver trade is always a possibility, but Tampa, Boston and Texas will know what the Yankees are up to and probably try to block any such move. Grade: F
  4. Designated Hitter: A full-time DH wasn’t a serious need, even if Nick Johnson is likely done. Using the DH role to rotate some of the Yankee vets would have been fine, if a strong utility guy could be found. None were, so Cashman did the next best thing: bring in some big-time thunder for the DH role. Although undeniably on the downside of very good career, Lance Berkman’s arrival means the Yankee line-up gets lengthened, with legitimate power threats from 2-8. The undeniable shocker of the trade deadline. Grade: A

Overall, I give Cashman a B- for this year’s deadline dealing, although that stands to improve if the Yanks can swing a deal for utility infielder.

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A flashback to Melky’s days with the Yankees…

I Like-A Da Woman‘ -Melky Cabrera

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Apparently looking at the graph below, of the starters that hit 9th in the lineup since 1920, Melky Cabrera has done the best. See the table below from Baseball-Reference to see the other members of the top 10.
Rk Player AB H HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Bucky Dent 1765 429 24 171 131 123 .243 .294 .329 .623
2 Pat Kelly 1589 395 23 168 111 321 .249 .306 .360 .666
3 Fred Stanley 747 167 3 53 78 87 .224 .298 .260 .558
4 Bob Meacham 792 184 3 62 76 167 .232 .307 .303 .610
5 Scott Brosius 745 194 24 98 58 124 .260 .317 .409 .726
6 Joe Girardi 680 175 7 86 38 91 .257 .296 .354 .650
7 Jim Mason 512 108 6 44 35 93 .211 .259 .301 .559
8 Andre Robertson 558 136 5 40 19 90 .244 .272 .330 .602
9 Melky Cabrera 599 177 9 74 37 74 .295 .337 .409 .746
10 Wayne Tolleson 495 117 1 31 49 101 .236 .305 .271 .575
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/30/2010.
I guess if you have to bat Melky 9th in the order, you really don’t have much to worry about, right?

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Sometimes its hard to look back on someone when they are in a way overshadowed by players on their own team. In a sense, Robinson Cano is overshadowed by Jeter, Teixeira, Rodriguez, etc that you really don’t notice his contributions from the lower half of the lineup. I may be off my rocker, but one thing I noticed is that he had a decently strong arm and made a lot more throws from positions I did not expect him to. It also seemed like he made many plays as if he was Joe Cool. Now I don’t know if that’s just me or if he makes it look that easy. Also, after a subpar 2008 season, Cano rebounded with a year that many fans approved of.

Looking ahead to 2010: While Robbie had a damn good year in the shadows of other Yankees stars, 2010 should be a better year for Robbie. With the departure of Melky Cabrera, Robbie will likely still be the same person he was in 2009, possibly better. While a .320 batting average is something a lot of players will kill for, Robbie will improve upon that with maturity and experience in the league. Look for a great year from Robbie.

2010 Prediction: .322, 23 HR, 90 RBI, .865 OPS

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After yesterday’s home run themed post, let’s continue with this theme today and compare those Yankee pitchers who serve up meatballs (ie No Doubters) and the hitters on the Yankees that have hit the most last season. You can click the previous link to find out the Hit Tracker’s definition of a No Doubter.

Yankees Hitters:

Name Amount
Mark Teixeira 16
Melky Cabrera 8
Hideki Matsui 7
Jorge Posada 6
Johnny Damon 6

Pitchers:

Name Amount
Andy Pettitte 6
AJ Burnett 5
Sergio Mitre 3
Chien-Ming Wang 3
Joba Chamberlain 3

The most ‘No Doubters’ given up were 10 this year was by James Shields, would have thought Joba would have been higher than just the measly 3 he gave up, oh well. I was also a little surprised that the dearly departed Melky had 8 No Doubters.

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Yes, you read right, I said Don’t Sleep on Brett Gardner. It almost seems as if we, as Yankees fans are accustomed to having the biggest and brightest stars play in New York and to an extent that thought isn’t too far from the truth. However, we are forgetting one call that Brian Cashman made this year to the rest of Yankees Universe. He said that he wanted to get younger and more athletic. In a way he was saying ‘Enough of signing these 35 year old plus free agents!’ and I fully support him in his goal.

Last year the Yankees had Johnny Damon in left field and Melky Gardner play centerfield and as the page turns to 2010, we have a more athletic Curtis Granderson (who is on the right side of 30) in centerfield and currently Brett Gardner patrolling left field. Since Nick Johnson has donned the pinstripes again, most Yankees fans have written Johnny Damon out of the picture as his asking price is not in line with what the Yankees are willing to pay.

Since then, Gardner has taken over the role as left fielder and it seems that most of Yankees universe is opposed to that. I am here to say, don’t be afraid, I have already told you that we have had worse options, now I am here to tell you that you shouldn’t sleep on him and actually give him a shot. (more…)

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How can anyone question whether the Yankees or better or not? Some are debating the topic, and I’m looking to settle the argument.

Gone: Hideki Matsui, Chien-Ming Wang, Jerry Hairston Jr., Brian Bruney, Austin Jackson, Melky Cabrera, Phil Coke, Shelley Duncan, Eric Hinske, Mike Dunn, Arodys Vizcaino

Newcomers: Curtis Granderson, Javier Vazquez, Nick Johnson, Boone Logan, Jamie Hoffman, Reid Gorecki, Royce Ring, and David Winfree

Still up in the air: Johnny Damon

Let’s do a quick overview:

The Goners

  • If Matsui didn’t have the postseason he had, nobody would be crying if he left us. You have to judge him based on his regular season. He was nothing spectacular during the regular season, and he locks up the DH spot since he can’t play the field at all with his knee problems. This is coming from a fan of his. He is one of those players you respect in the game, but you need to know when to cut your ties.
  • Chien-Ming Wang fell off the charts dramatically. The guy has thrown only 137 innings over the past two years. He went (W-L) 1-6 with a 9.64ERA last season. What makes you think he can pitch right now? He was a 19-game winner. Not anymore.
  • Hairston, Bruney, Cabrera, Coke, Duncan and Dunn will not be missed. As for Hinske..we could use him, but he’s not a major loss.

The Newcomers

  • Curtis Granderson is taking over centerfield. He brings another power bat to the lineup, more speed, and serves as a defensive upgrade in the outfield.
  • Javier Vazquez will take the 4th slot in the rotation. He didn’t fair so well with the Yanks his first time around, but can you give him another chance? This guy could be an ace on many major league ball clubs. Power pitchers are key in the playoffs…just remember that.
  • Nick Johnson walked 17.8% of the time in ’09, which was the highest percentage in the major leagues. His .426 on base percentage was second-best in the league to Albert Pujols. Enough said? Don’t give me that..”Oh..he’s going to get injured.” You never know how the season will go. You can’t predict injuries. How did A.J. Burnett do last season?
  • The club also brought in a young bunch of players: Boone Logan, Jamie Hoffman, Reid Gorecki, Royce Ring, and David Winfree. Hoffman will compete for an outfield spot come Spring Training.

and those still up in the air

  • Johnny Damon is still undecided where he is going to play next season. His options are running out, and there is still a chance he can return to the Yankees. Let’s wait and see what happens.

This off-season, the Yankees basically got rid of players that were over the hill, had injury problems, weren’t anything special at the major league level, and some prospects that haven’t proven a damn thing. Instead, they brought in an all-star center fielder, a pitcher that could be an ace on many ball clubs and a DH that finished behind Pujols in OBP last year. This team should be stronger than last year’s. I am well aware that things don’t always work out, but this team is clearly better on paper. Now, let’s see if they can do it on the field.

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Yes, you read right, Javy Vazquez is going to be a Yankee again and Boone Logan will be coming with him. When I saw this I literally went ‘What the hell!’ I almost wanted to rise up out of my seat and threw my computer out my second story office. Guess who the Yankees gave up? Melky Cabrera, Arodys Vizcaino, and Mike Dunn.

Gut reaction to this deal is still bewilderment. Javy Vazquez, in his time in the American League wasn’t that great. His best year in the AL was in 2007 when he was 15-8 with a 3.97 ERA with the Chicago White Sox. Otherwise his ERA in the other years was: 4.91 (2004 Yankees), 4.84 (2006 White Sox), 4.67 (2008 White Sox). In 2004, Vasquez was decent for two months, April (2.55 ERA) and June (2.66 ERA). The other months he had an ERA above 5. After the season, in a move Brian Cashman didn’t want to make, he was sent to Arizona in the deal that brought the Big Unit to the Bronx.

Cashman is likely being sucked into the illusion of Vazquez pitching in the National League again. In 2003 with the Expos, Vazquez was 12-10 with a 3.24 ERA with 241 K’s in 230.1 innings. In 2009 with the Braves, Vasquez was 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA, 238 K’s in 219.1 innings. We found out that didn’t translate into results in the American League.

This raises a few questions, does this mean that Cashman will want to start 2010 with Brett Gardner in LF? Or does this deal open the door for a potential deal for Johnny Damon? The Yankees will take on Vasquez’s full contract according to David O’Brien. This also spells the departure for either Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain from the 2010 rotation. While Cashman will likely say that they’ll prepare as starters in Spring Training, I think it is likely that we’ll see Hughes fall back into his setup role for Mariano.

Let me go on record to say that I don’t like this deal at all. Vazquez’s track record in the American League isn’t good and it isn’t likely Cashman acquired him to setup Mariano in 2010. While I think he has great stuff (and I did in 2004), I am not sure how great he’ll be in the AL East, but I guess we’ll find out this year, won’t we? Your thoughts?

Zell’s Take: I love this deal. I was one of those people who couldn’t wait until Melky left this team. They are supposedly giving up Dunn and Vizcaino, but nothing is final. They have now added Granderson, Johnson, and Vazquez and they haven’t dealt either Hughes or Joba. I call that a successful off-season.

The Yankees finally got that starting pitcher they needed. We all know what Vazquez did for the Yankees, but maybe it will be different this time around. He had a 2.87ERA in the NL last year, while racking up 238K’s. We all know how important power pitchers are when it comes to the postseason. Vazquez as a #4 starter? Many teams would kill to have that. Does this mean Hughes takes the 5th spot..and Joba goes back to the bullpen where he belongs?

I have a feeling the Yankees won’t be going into next season with Gardner in LF, and they will go after an outfielder. I would guess Mark DeRosa.

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Just a few quick notes on a rather snowy day for everyone from Virginia and to the north. I’ll tell you, I live in Washington, DC and I shoveled my driveway AND walkway 3 times today…not fun. Well, without further gilding the lilly, here’s today’s update…

  • In a bit of news that broke yesterday, VIA Tyler Kepner Johnny Damon crawled back to the Yankees and said he would take 2 years for $20MM, but at that point it was too late as the Nick Johnson deal was sealed.
  • The Cubs are in the market for a centerfielder now that they have sent away their 2009 MVP, Milton Bradley. While they are not the top available options, GM Jim Hendry would supposedly be interested in striking a deal with the Yankees if Melky or Brett Gardner became available.

I know what people are going to jump to and it will sound something like this. ‘OMG~~~!! TRADE MELK AND BRETT FOR SORIANO~~!!! YESS!’ And I am going to cut you off right there as the Yankees don’t need to set the MLB record for team strike outs in a season. At this moment I am torn between who I’d trade. Brett is faster and seems to care more about his game. Melky strikes me as one that doesn’t take it seriously all the time (but not as serious as Jeter…). Well, if they strike a deal it will be interesting to see what the Yankees get back in return. It wouldn’t be a Yankees offseason without Melky Cabrera trade rumors, right?

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