Monday, December 13, 2010

Melky Cabrera Is Now a Royal: Simon Says Championship

The Melkman cometh, and I feel really dirty.

Having gotten that obligatory pun out of the way, last week Dayton Moore clearly decided that he was going to acquire only the shittiest outfielders on the free agent market.  First, there was Francoeur, and all twelve Royals fans were up in arms.  We knew it was coming--we'd known for years--but that didn't make the reality of the signing any easier to deal with.

Not to be outdone by himself, Dayton Moore went out and signed the awful Melky Cabrera.  It took Braves fans less than a month last year to hate Melky Cabrera, with the labels of fat and lazy being applied to Cabrera rather liberally throughout the season.  With his weight listed as 200 lbs for last season, he was 30 lbs heavier than he is listed at on his B-R Minor League page.

More importantly, if he is the starting center fielder heading into spring training as Bob Dutton reported, then the spectacular defense of Jarrod Dyson would definitely seem to be gracing the new stadium in Omaha or wasting away on the bench in Kansas City.  Instead, the owner of a cumulative -22.3 UZR/150 in the outfield (-20.8 in LF, -30.4 in CF, and -7.6 in RF) in 2010 will be patrolling center.  Sure, we're talking about a small sample size.  If he came into camp motivated and in shape, 2010 could prove to be the outlier rather than a harbinger of things to come. 

This would all be rendered irrelevant if Melky Cabrera could hit.  His first five seasons would indicate that he cannot.  With a triple slash of .267/.329/.380, an 86 OPS+, an average of 60 R, 23 2B, 3 3B, 8 HR, 10 SB, 54 RBI, 43 BB, 62 SO per season, and only six players found with a wOBA worse than Cabrera's .313 and at least 2,500 plate appearances since 2006 (three of whom will also be Royals in 2011--you know who they are), he has done next to nothing to indicate that he will be able to hit going forward.

If he has one saving grace, it is that he sort of draws walks and doesn't strike out much.  His 8.1 BB% is very comparable to David DeJesus's 8.3 BB%.  There are only 21 players from 2006-2010 with the same plate appearance stipulation as above with a lower K-rate than Melky's 13.0%.  His O-Swing % is a rather high 27.9%, but his overall Contact % is a respectable 87.9% 

Yes, he is just entering his prime, as Dayton Moore has reminded us all, but a shitty player's prime is still likely to be shitty.  Using FanGraphs' WAR, only Yuniesky Betancourt has a lower WAR than Melky (the next two worst are Teahen and Francoeur).  Given that he has nothing that he does well, it simply puzzles me that Jarrod Dyson would not be given a shot.  At least Dyson does something well.  It just seems that in a season that is already lost that it might make sense to not sign HORRIBLE FUCKING PLAYERS to block players who we could at least learn something about.  Instead, we will get to watch the shittiest defense in baseball get shittier, and also have those shitty defensive players not be able to hit.  Even if Dyson plays so poorly as to warrant being replaced, Gregor Blanco and Mitch Maier can both play as poorly as Cabrera, and neither are arbitration eligible until next year.  Combined, they cost less than Melky, they can both play as poorly as Melky with a hand tied behind their back, and they are both already Royals.  


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