What happens when your favorite team makes a trade and you’re ambivalent about it? Do you just shrug your shoulders and move on? Spend countless hours analyzing it to try and make yourself feel either good or bad about it? Make a sandwich? Let me tell you, I did all of those things today.
Jonathan Sanchez is gone, Melky Cabrera is here, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.
Cabrera is coming off of a year in which he set career highs in virtually every offensive category. His .305/.339/.470 line would’ve made him a God in the Giants’ lineup and he managed to add 18 HRs and 20 SBs for good measure. After a horrific 2010 season, he dedicated himself to getting in shape last offseason (hmm…sounds familiar) and responded with the best year of his career. The Giants are getting him at the right time (he’s still only 27), on the cusp of his first free agent season with plenty to prove in order to get a big contract in 2013. In the short term, it seems like a nice move for the Giants. They’re getting a young outfielder who could be hitting his career peak.
On the other hand, I can’t shake the feeling that this is Melky Cabrera. I could be mistaken, but I think the Spanish translation of “Melky” is “nondescript outfielder.” Before last season he was the very definition of a reserve outfielder, not excelling in any one area but good enough to keep a Major League job. I’m naturally suspicious of a player who has a career year after six plus seasons in the league, and the chances of him regressing to his norm are far higher than him having a repeat of 2011. The Giants may try to shoehorn him into the leadoff spot despite of the fact that he’s not a leadoff hitter, and his range in the outfield is awful. His negatives almost cancel out his positives.
As for Sanchez, it’s not at all surprising to see him go. The Giants would’ve owed him somewhere around $6 million in arbitration, and with Barry Zito still in the fold the Giants would’ve been paying two guys a total of $25 million to fight for the 5th starter’s job. It is a bit surprising that Sanchez’s stock has fallen so low that he wasn’t enough to get Cabrera on his own, since the Giants had to throw in a minor league pitcher to get the deal done. If you’d told me two years ago that all the Giants would get for Jonathan Sanchez in a trade was Melky Cabrera, I’d have called you crazy. They simply waited a year too long to trade him.
So in the end the Giants get a serviceable outfielder coming up on his walk year, lose a talented but erratic pitcher who’s likely peaked, and save a few million in the process. So, good? I guess? I’m still ambivalent. If Cabrera truly has turned a corner and can repeat his success from last year, it’s a very good trade. If he turns back into Melky Cabrera, it’s probably a wash since Sanchez is unlikely to get much better than he was last year.
Melky Cabrera, your opening day Giants center fielder. Meh.