Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home4/derok6/public_html/chop-n-change/plugins/system/cdnforjoomla/helper.php on line 27 attempting-to-objectively-look-at-melky-cabrera | January | 2010 Articles
The key word of course, is attempting. I have no idea how long I'll be able to put on the analyst hat and keep the fat hat sitting down.
So Melky Cabrera has been a Brave for a couple weeks now, and the initial vitriol everyone had towards the deal appears to have vanished, with the signings of Eric Hinske and Troy Glaus bringing back some good vibes towards the organization. Let's get one thing out in the open right away: Melky Cabrera is not a great hitter by any stretch of the imagination. In 4 full seasons in the majors, his career OPS is .716. He does bring a few positives to the table, however. His career strikeout rate is rather low at 12.8%, and his walk rate is an average 8.0%. He's a good base stealer, but not a fantastic one, stealing at a rate of 75.9% over his career. Cabrera though, has no power to speak of whatsoever, with a .116 career ISO.
He gives the Braves some flexibility with their outfield, as he can play all 3 positions, though he's not particularly great at any of them. Some have been advocating a platoon in left field with the switch hitting Cabrera and the right handed Matt Diaz. While Diaz murders lefties to the tune of a .921 career OPS, he struggles more against the righties, with an OPS of only .722. Cabrera's splits are more neutral: .680 against lefties, .730 against righties. When the difference between the two players you're looking to platoon is so minimal, I personally don't think it's even worth platooning them in the first place.
After looking at things from an analytical point of view, and putting my emotions on the back burner, its clear to me that Cabrera should not be starting on this team. The things he brings to the table are the qualities you're looking for in a fourth outfielder, not a starter. The Braves only have 6 outfielders on the 40 man roster as of this moment, and the only ones guaranteed a spot in Atlanta come April are Cabrera, Diaz and Nate McLouth. The man looking like he'll be on the team, Jason Heyward, isn't on the 40-man. The other 3 men on the 40-man are Gregor Blanco, Jordan Schafer, and Brandon Jones. Blanco and Jones aren't more than 4th outfielders at this point, and Schafer will likely spend the year in Gwinnett after a lost 2009 season.
The best option at this point may be to attempt to trade Cabrera and get something, anything, in return. I personally don't think he'd be much of an upgrade on the bench over Blanco or Jones, and trading him and his salary in 2010 that will be approaching $3 million would allow the Braves to take a flier on one of the still available outfielders on the market, or save the money for a midseason acquisition if the team is in the playoff hunt. At this point, dumping Cabrera off for even a C-level prospect may not directly give the team a player that can plug the hole in the outfield, but it would result in a better opportunity for the hole to be plugged in the near future.