After six, mostly tumultuous seasons with the Yankees, Braves and Royals, San Francisco Giants left fielder Melky Cabrera has finally arrived. Acquired by the Giants on November 7, 2011 from the Royals in exchange for lefty Jonathan Sanchez, the Melk Man has made Giants General Manager Brian Sabean look like a genius for pulling off such a one-sided trade. While Sanchez has been hampered all season with an injury to his throwing arm, Cabrera has flourished, providing a much-needed spark to a Giants offense that has had trouble hitting and scoring runs over the last few years.
How good has he been? In just 46 games (through May 24), Cabrera is hitting .362 with an on base percentage of .928. He has 67 hits (MLB best), 22 multi-hit games (MLB best), five triples (MLB best) and he had a 20 game hit streak earlier in the season. The last Giant to lead the league in hits was the great Willie Mays in 1960. Yes, that Willie Mays.
More than just his hitting prowess, Cabrera has been exceptional in the outfield as well. He has yet to commit an error, routinely tracks down fly balls in the gaps for outs, plays the corners well and has a strong and accurate arm for cutting down runners. To give you a sample of just how strong and accurate his arm is, check out this play he made earlier in the week to throw out Brewers right fielder Norichika Aoki at the plate.
As mentioned earlier, while acquiring Cabrera has proved to be a steal, at the time it was somewhat of a gamble by Sabean, because you never want to give up good, young starting left-handed pitching. Plus, there is no other way to spin the fact that Cabrera struggled a bit early on as a major leaguer.
In his first five seasons with the Yankees, Cabrera was often designated as the fourth outfielder behind Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams, among others. He did show flashes of brilliance in New York, but was eventually shipped to Atlanta in December 2009, only to be released by the Braves in October 2010 after putting up career worst numbers (.255, 4 HR, 42 RBI) in 147 games.
After the Royals gave him a one-year deal in December 2010, he finally began to show signs that he was developing into a quality everyday baseball player (.305, 18 HR, 87 RBI). The truth is, as much as the Giants were hoping that Cabrera would emerge as the player he has become, nobody imagined he’d be this good.
That leads to an interesting question. With Cabrera’s contract expiring after this season, do the Giants lock him up long-term with a new deal?
For a myriad of reasons, I think the Giants have to do it. Cabrera is only 27 and appears to be approaching his prime, the team is thin in the outfield, he provides leadership and hustle, and perhaps most importantly, the Giants don’t have another player on the their roster that can do the things he can do. There has been considerable discussion on whether the team should wait until the off-season to get something done or if they should lock him up now. I think the answer is clear – get it done now. Cabrera is having fun playing in San Francisco and he may be open to giving the Giants a hometown discount.
At the end of the day, I think something will get done because this marriage has been good for both Cabrera and the Giants. Until then, I will sit back and enjoy watching the Melk Man deliver. After all, isn’t that what a Melk Man does? Deliver?
Copyright © sports-glutton.com, 2010-2012. All Rights Reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of material found on this site without express and written permission from sports-glutton.com is strictly prohibited.