The Yankees traded Melky Cabrera away, the Braves cut him, but over the last two seasons the Melk-Man has completely turned his career around and become one of the better players in the league.
Were the Yankees and Braves wrong about him? Maybe, but it sounds like Melky needed a kick in the pants in order to take his life seriously away from the diamond which has also helped him to become better on it.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long told Joel Sherman of the NY Post. “He has totally gotten committed to his career. He doesn’t drink. He doesn’t take anything for granted any more. His personal trainer is with him all the time. When you go all in and have talent, this is what happens — and it is evident he has the talent.”
“If Melky committed himself to the Yankees as he does now, he would still be a Yankee,” he said. “And he would say the same thing. He made himself tradeable then.”
With the Yankees, Melky hit .270/.332/.387 with a 87 OPS+. Last season his OPS+ increased to 120 and this year he has really experienced his full potential, hitting .363/.399/.532 and a 164 OPS+.
Some Yankees fans are angry with the Yankees for dealing Melky, but when healthy they have one of the best outfields in baseball and it also sounds like he would have never been this good without a wake up call.
The Yankees will have a second chance this offseason when Melky is a free agent, but it is too early to tell if they will target him. He could potentially take Nick Swisher‘s place in right, but both outfielders might price themselves out of the Bronx with a pending $189 million budget by 2014 the Yankees will impose on themselves.
The Yankees may want to make sure they don’t overpay either. His numbers are great this season, but they might not be sustainable. For one thing, his BABIP is at .404 so far this season which is no where near his career level of .308. It’s possible to improve that number, but a 100-point different seems unrealistic to sustain.
There is also the concern that Melky still doesn’t show a lot of patience at the plate. His .363 average this season is amazing, but a .399 OBP is low for such a good batting average. Once his BABIP returns closer to his career number, Melky’s OBP will go from great to average.
Still, it certainly seems like he’s turned the corner. Perhaps the Yankees might target him this offseason. If at 28, he becomes a consistent .300/.330/.500 hitter with solid defense in right, he certainly would an attractive target.