BP’s Joe Sheehan is a little more optimistic than I am about Melky Cabrera. Sheehan lists Melky as a breakout candidate in his latest piece.
Cabrera went backwards in ’07, but not by enough for concern. Remember
that he is just 23 years old and has more than 1100 plate appearances
in the majors, with average to average-plus defense (good physical
tools, but very raw, takes bad routes) and a very good 129/96 K/BB.
He is a mature player offensively, patient at the plate and fair on the
bases (25-for-35 stealing in his career). One interesting quirk is his G/F ratio, which is 1.63 for his career and was a whopping 1.81 last season. Cabrera is listed at 5’11” and 200 pounds. He’s not Willy Taveras ,
but rather a player who should be developing power and learning how to
drive the ball, rather than hitting the ball on the ground 60 percent
of the time.
I’m reminded of Alex Rios ,
who doesn’t look a thing like Cabrera. Rios was largely disappointing
in 2004 and 2005, hitting just 11 homers in more than 900 at-bats, with
an isolated power of 117. The problem: Rios was hitting the ball on the
ground too much, a 1.82 G/F
in those two seasons. Starting in ’06, Rios put the ball in the air
more than half the time, and became a star. When you look at Cabrera’s
body, his established control of the strike zone, and his ability to
hold his own at a young age, you recognize that all it’s going to take
is for him to start elevating the ball. Cabrera may not get there in
2008, but he’s going to pop 80 extra-base hits and slug .500 in a
season very, very soon.
You hear that, Melky? Your swing needs more of an uppercut.
I hope Sheehan is right. And I wonder if the Yanks agree. It doesn’t seem like it.