For a player who almost ATE his way out of baseball (take note, Pablo Sandoval) in the Yankees organization, Melky Cabrera came to the San Francisco Giants this season following a stellar year with the Kansas City Royals.
Not knowing if last year was a fluke, the Giants traded the often-inconsistent Jonathan Sanchez to get Cabrera with one year left on his contract. Right out of the box, Cabrera has produced. He could always hit, but as of now he’s poised to break career numbers in hits, average and home runs.
Even the unexpected has happened this season. Often seen as a liability in the field, Cabrera is routinely seen making ESPN Play of the Day type catches … saving runs for a team that can’t afford to give them away. His legs are also serving the team well as he’s leading the Giants in runs scored and is always a threat to steal a base … something the Giants desperately need.
With that being said, can the Giants KEEP Cabrera? The answer is simple:
Definitely, probably. Maybe.
Melky’s been using the proper baseball etiquette when fielding questions about his upcoming free-agency: (Feel free to insert your favorite here…) “Happy to be here.” “Don’t want to talk about next season.” “Fans are great.” “Happy just playing baseball.” “Taking it day-by-day.” “Just want the Giants to win.”
Not ONCE has this been said: “I have my agent talking with the Giants about a long-term deal.”
The bottom line is the San Francisco Giants are a BUSINESS FIRST. Sure, they love the fans and the community dearly, but they are more interested in the financial bottom line than making Joe Schmo happy by signing the biggest name available. Last year’s Melky Cabrera was Carlos Beltran. Other than getting hurt at the absolute wrong time, Beltran put up good numbers with the Giants and proved he is still an elite player.
When the season ended and it was time to talk money. BUSINESS Giants showed up and Beltran was saying, “See you in St. Louis.” Oh, and Beltran will also be starting in the All-Star Game this year, quite possibly alongside Melky. And for just a bit more pain added to the top of this horror story, our ONCE top pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler, is tearing it up in Double-A for the Mets organization.
In 2010, the Giants won the World Series with a bunch of veterans that probably overstayed their welcome (Edgar Renteria, Juan Uribe, Pat Burrell, Aaron Rowand) and young men that barely have SNIFFED the majors (Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner).
Throw in a great one-year by Andres Torres and you have a team made up of – the media’s favorite term – a band of MISFITS. If you were cheap and had some baseball left in you and will work cheap, climb aboard. Minimum salary? Thank you for your service.
The Giants have been burned by the contracts of Rowand and Barry Zito, but it is time to stop being afraid of pulling the trigger on a player. Those two contracts are not even too extreme in today’s market, but it cuts into the bottom line. The Yankees or Red Sox would have cut Zito and Rowand after 3 years and write it off as a loss. But not the Giants. Let ’em stick around so fans and blogs can have seven years of talking about how bad a player – ahem – stinks. (For the record, all these men are professionals and do NOT deserve to be called HALF the names Rowand and Zito have been called.)
True, Melky Cabrera was almost out of baseball and even played a year in Kansas City – which is almost the equivalent of being out of baseball – but he seems to have turned himself around and into a solid, every-day baseball player. His story is a lot like someone else we’ve come to know and love: Ryan Vogelsong. Vogey fought his way back from JAPAN and turned himself into a reliable Number 3 and a decent two-year contract.
Age is the only reason he wasn’t locked into a five-year deal. But even he would not have been with the Giants if he wanted more than $30 and a boxed lunch for his services.
If the San Francisco Giants TRULY know baseball and TRULY know baseball players, they would sign Melky Cabrera NOW. It’s always nice to test the free agent market as a player, but if you make an offer that’s too good to refuse, they won’t. The team can probably even make a fortune off “Melk Man” hats and tiny bottles of “Melk.”
That will help out the bottom line.