Alex Rodriguez begged the Yankees to re-sign Melky Cabrera this winter. Cabrera moved to Miami in part to train with A-Rod this winter, and it seems to be paying off in Kansas City, where he signed for $1.2 million. Cabrera is batting .279 after hitting just .255 for the Braves last season. Royals GM Dayton Moore made several good cheap signings this winter (Bruce Chen, Jeff Francis).
A-Rod is generally regarded as one of the smartest baseball players when it comes to discussing the game, but this just goes to show you that even the smartest baseball players don’t really understand how to put together a team. Far too often they let small sample sizes sway their thinking and, in this case, a personal bias get in the way of good decision making. Being a ball player doesn’t help prepare you to be a GM, if anything it hurts you. They spend so much of their time thinking about their game, their next at bat, what they need to work on in the cage, that they totally ignore the big picture.
In this case A-Rod wanted the Yankees to sign Melky after they worked out together this offseason. The thing is, we already know what kind of a ball player Melky is. He’s not going to get much better no matter how much he works out with A-Rod. He’s already logged 2,732 plate appearances and has only managed a 86 OPS+.
If the Yankees would have signed him it probably would have kept them from signing Andruw Jones. The big reason they signed Jones of course was because they had two outfielders, Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson, who have struggled against left handed pitchers. So they went out and got Jones to pick up the slack against tough lefties. Unfortunately that is not something Melky does well, at all. Over his career he only has a .668 OPS against them. I will take Jones’ .863 OPS against them over that every day.
So Brian Cashman and the Yankees did the right thing ignoring A-Rod. It might have been a hard decision as he is one of the most respected players on the team and Melky was a big fan favorite, but as far as baseball goes this was a no-brainer.