Revisiting The Melky Trade

Over the hills and far away there’s a Kansas City Royals fan in a Jonathan Sanchez jersey sobbing. And he/she has every right to be for their team was robbed.

Fresh off a typical 71-91 season last year, the Royals were ripe with young offensive prospects but virtually no starting pitching depth. After trading 2009 AL Cy Young winner Zack Greinke to the Milwaukee Brewers in 2010, the Royals were desperate to make a move for a talented starter. Heck, their best hurler last season was Luke Hochevar who rocked a 4.68 ERA. Yikes.

Stepping back, there were five players in all of Major League Baseball to hit for 200+ hits in 2011. One of those studs happened to be Melky Astacio Cabrera. The best part? Nobody saw it coming. Alas, the Royals have a trade piece.

To give you some background around Melky Cabrera, he was once a highly touted prospect in the early 2000’s. At the age of 17, the Yankees bought the rights to the Dominican Republic native so you know his name was on the radar for many big market teams. By 2006, Melky was the starting left fielder for New York at just 21 years of age. More notably, Cabrera was the starting center fielder for the 2009 World Series Champion New York Yankees. After countless triumphs and travails with the Evil Empire, Melky’s inconsistent play had earned him a spot in the Yankees’ doghouse. So during the offseason, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves to play alongside your boy Brooks Conrad.

In 2010, Melky had a fairly run-of-the-mill year with the Braves so they decided to cut ties with him following the season (which the Giants ended, good times). So the Royals signed him to a 1-year, $1.25 million “show me” contract in December of 2010. And boy did that pay dividends.

Flashing forward, Melky’s trade value was somewhat of an unknown. You’d think a 27 year-old 5-tool player who can play a little center field would be a hot commodity. But in Melky’s case, not so much. Does this sort of wild card remind you of any one starting pitcher in particular? Boom. Enter Jonathan Sanchez.

Respectfully, Giants’ and Royals’ General Managers Brian Sabean and Dayton Moore shook hands over a Melky for Jonathan swap on November 7th, 2011. The Giants later threw in pitcher Ryan Verdugo for good measure. At the time, most casual Giants fans had never heard of Melky Cabrera. But now those same Giants fans cannot get enough of the Melk Man. Frankly, he’s been Melk-nificent.

This isn’t some indulgent “Ode to Melky”, or wait, yes it is. This is exactly that. You know why? Because he is the Giants’ best player right now and should be a NL All-Star. Melky is leading Major League Baseball with 67 hits (3 ahead of former teammate Derek Jeter) and is 3rd for batting average in the National League .362 (3 points ahead of Matt Kemp aka Rude Boy). If he keeps this up, he’s a bona fide MVP candidate.

Meanwhile, back in Kansas City, our ex-homie Jonathan Sanchez is on the DL with bicep tendonitis. Not to mention, the Dirty Sanchez/Dirty Pharaoh is sporting a 6.75 ERA and a painful 18:22 strikeout to walk ratio. He’ll be 30 in November. I think it’s fair to say he won’t be no-hitting any Major League squad anytime soon.

Is Melky’s success in San Francisco an oasis or a mirage? Time will tell. But we’re more than a quarter of the way through the 2012 season, so it’s not ludicrous to jump to conclusions regarding this trade. Both players involved needed a change of scenery, but only one is blossoming. Fortunately, the Giants pulled the trigger and finally traded for a great player without giving up a blue chip prospect. Oh and don’t kid yourself, there’s been some doozies hard luck trades from the Brian Sabean Era.

And thus, Giants’ brass and fans alike should be thankful that Melky was playing for a team as desperate as the AAAA Royals for he might not have been on the market after such a stellar 2011 season. Like the old adage says: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Tiene Leche? I do.

Revisiting the Melky Trade


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Bob Jordan on May 29, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    Good work Sean. Let’s milk this guy for all we can before he sours. GP


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