Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Melky's Days in Center are Numbered

Melky Cabrera's Days are NumberedAfter yesterday's 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi defended his decision not to bunt or pinch hit for struggling centerfielder Melky Cabrera.

"Melky's our center fielder," Girardi told the NY Daily News. "Melky's going to play out there."

Hitless in his last 19 at-bats, Cabrera is in worst skid of his career. He exhibits no patience in his at-bats, any semblance of power has vanished and he is a disaster when batting right-handed.

Regardless of what Girardi says publicly, the writing is clearly on the wall.

Before Monday night's game, the Yankees promoted Triple-A centerfielder Brett Gardner, a prototypical leadoff man with speed and patience. Although he doesn't have Cabrera's arm in center, his speed makes him an excellent defender. He's been in the lineup in each game since his promotion, tonight in center as Cabrera rides the pine.

Brett Gardner Offers a Right-Now Alternative"You're not going to bring up a young kid, who is developing, to sit. So (Gardner) is going to play and it allows us to DH a guy or give a guy a day off and keep everyone fresh. If he was only going to play once a week, we wouldn't bring him up," said Girardi.

Entering play tonight, Gardner is 0-for-6 with sacrifice bunt and a stolen base.

The knock on Gardner has been strikeouts. In his minor league career, Gardner struck out 260 times, leading some to believe he will be dominated by major league pitching. The concern is a real one.

Don't get me wrong, I like Brett Gardner. I think he will be a useful big leaguer. But in all liklihood he's not the Yankees centerfielder of the future.

Austin Jackson is the FutureThat honor goes to Austin Jackson. The Yankees second-rated prospect according to Baseball America, Jackson will soon be roaming the displaced patch of hallowed turf previously manned by Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Bernie Williams.
As soon as next year, when the Yankees open play at their new and improved stadium, New York will boast its next-generation centerfielder.
Drafted in 2005 and given an $800,000 bonus to keep him from Georgia Tech's basketball team, the uber-athlete has been tearing through the Yankees' system. Playing at Double-A Trenton, he's batting .271 in 80 G with 8 HR and 47 RBI. This morning Jackson was named to the Eastern League's All-Star team.

Do you think Melky reads Baseball America? Does he know he's about to be pushed into his true role - fourth outfielder? Or a role Yankees fans have been increasingly clammoring for - trade bait?

Cabrera's name has often been mentioned in trade rumors; that's nothing new. But the Yankees we're handcuffed by Johnny Damon's noodle arm and no available replacements in the system's upper echelons.

Now there is an alternative. And there is a true starter in training, a year or two away. Melky is available. Anyone interested in a .240 hitter with an on base percentage of .303?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a lot to be said for your point of view- makes a great deal of sense.