Hey everyone, I’ve been gone for the past few days, anything been going on? Since I assume this site has been getting little-to-no attention the past couple days, I thought it was time for a post!
I don’t want to lose your love, but let’s talk about the outfield.
The Giants outfield has been in a constant state of flux for the better (worse) part of the past decade. Not since 2008-09 have the Giants had two outfielders start consecutive opening days. Those outfielders: Aaron Rowand in center and Randy Winn in right. Yea, those were the days.
Before that you have to go to 1999-2000 to find the last time the Giants had the same starting outfield in consecutive years. Those outfielders: Barry Bonds, Marvin Benard, Ellis Burks. Tell me, have things gotten better or worse out there?
Now I know that teams – especially recent Giants teams – are constantly changing and it’s somewhat rare to keep outfields (or infields, or pitching rotations, or bullpens) in tact. Just because three players play the outfield doesn’t make them a single unit. So I admit that noticing and nitpicking the joyless game of musical chairs that has been the Giants outfield is pretty arbitrary.
But it’s still worthwhile, isn’t it? I mean, isn’t it strange that the Giants can’t seem to find guys that stick around for more than a couple years? Whether it be free agents (Cody Ross), players had in trades (Carlos Beltran) or homegrown talent (Fred Lewis, John Bowker) the Giants have seemed unable to make fans feel much of anything besides uneasy.
The Giants have at least another year to go before they find some outfield stability (Gary Brown! Gary Brown!) but they may have found a piece of the puzzle this offseason.
In just three months I have done a total 170˚ on Melky Cabrera. Well, not on him. I mean, like, about how I feel regarding the Giants’ decision to trade for him.
When I first heard the news I thought something like “What’s a Melky?” I had known who Melky Cabrera was but he had somehow escaped my baseball consciousness after years of being disappointing if not irrelevant.
I wasn’t mad at the Giants organization for trading away Jonathan Sanchez so much as I was mad that there was a good chance the Giants organization thought Melky was going to repeat his 2010 season forever and ever. “Well he just did! So why wouldn’t he do again?!” It was another indication that the Giants’ reputation as small sample size aficionados is earned, and not just manufactured by disgruntled bloggers.
But then I put a pause on my overreaction gland and thought about it. Worst case scenario: Melky regresses to his pre-2011 self and becomes a disappointing fifth outfielder. He’ll collect his six million and be gone come 2013.
Best case scenario: Melky has “figured it out,” as they say, and his 2011 wasn’t a fluke. He is a very productive No. 2 hitter in the lineup at a very reasonable price.
But the latter is no given. Melky has a lot of questions to answer. Where did his power materialize from? Was it just by chance that a few more balls found their way over the fences, or did a new approach/swing give him a late-career power boost a la Jose Bautista? Why hadn’t he ever stolen 20 bases in a full season before, and why did he get caught stealing 33 percent of the time?
Cabera had 94 more plate appearances last season than he’s had in any previous season. That explains why he had a career-high in strike outs but doesn’t explain why he had his second-lowest walk total.
And finally, is his .332 BAbip proof that his season was a product of luck?
It’s hard not to say yes. At least to a certain extent.
Stats like that explain why I’m only 170˚ from where I started on Melky. I’m feeling more optimistic, but I’m not completely sold. But it should be said I am more comfortable with Melky in left than the Giants’ other offseason options. Well, except for Beltran.
But one of the wealthiest franchises in baseball beggars can’t be choosers.
14 home runs, 71 RBIs, 99 runs, 21
I expect the home runs to decrease thanks to AT&T but Melky could be a doubles machine for the same reason.
And at least eight days of me comparing his box score to Beltran’s and shaking my head.
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