Comments made by WasWatching.com readers over the last 24 hours – along the lines of “What’s the big deal about trading Melky Cabrera?” – got me wondering about “How special was Melky, in the Yankeeland grand scheme of things, last summer?”
To find the answer, I turned to the Complete Baseball Encyclopedia.
The question, for me, is simple: How many players, age 21 or younger, have ever played a (for the most part full) season for the New York Yankees, and were actually productive with the stick?
The answer, via the “CBE,” in the form of a chart:
Yes, the answer is: Before Melky Cabrera this year, only five players (Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Ben Chapman, Tony Kubek and Willie Randolph) – in the entire history of the Yankees franchise.
Now, please do not confuse what I am suggesting. There’s no way that I am saying that Cabrera is the next Mantle or DiMaggio. More so, I am merely pointing out that a very young player, one who logs a full season with the Yankees, and who demonstrates that he can hold his own at such a young age with the stick, is a rare find – indeed.
The Willow match-up should not be a surprise – because that was my finding back in August of this year when I was looking for a Melky-Comp.
Again, back in August, at the time of the Randolph-match discovery, I wrote: “Melky Cabrera will go on to play in the major leagues for at least another dozen years (barring injury) and have several productive seasons to his credit when it’s all said and done.”
I still stand by that projection. And, that’s the “big deal” about trading Melky Cabrera. Moving Cabrera, after what he has shown, is not the same as trading away a Dan Pasqua or Hensley Meulens. Therefore, if you’re going to trade Melky, you had better realize that you’re trading away something special – and the type of young player who does not appear on the Yankees scene very often.
Personally, I could see the trade of Melky Cabrera (from the Yankees) having as much negative impact on the team as the trade for Paul O’Neill had a positive impact (for New York when they acquired him). Players like Melky are play-makers.
Smart teams usually try to acquire them and/or keep them – they don’t trade them away (unless you’re getting equal or better value in return).