I have to confess, with Opening Day just a few days away, that I am a little concerned about Melky Cabrera this season – in terms of his production and playing time.
Last year, The Melk Man was on fire during Spring Training, and he kept it up to start the season in the minors. Once he was called up to the bigs, he was ready to go.
This spring, Cabrera has not hit well down in Tampa. And, now I’m beginning to wonder if he’s going to be able to find “it” when the team heads north. How much playing time can Torre give Melky this season – to find and maintain his groove? I think of it this way:
Matsui, Damon and Abreu are only going to accept around 2 days “off” per month – based on how much they are used to playing. So, assuming Cabrera plays in the outfield when one of these guys sits, that’s around 25 PA for Melky (each month).
Now, Giambi will also take “off” around 3-4 games per month – with Matsui, Damon, or Abreu filling in at DH. That’s another chance for Cabrera in the field (as a sub). So, add another 35 PAs for Melky – when Giambi sits (each month).
Also, there should be around 5 games a month where Giambi plays first – creating another chance for Matsui, Damon, or Abreu to fill in at DH – and that should mean another 20 PA for Cabrera per month.
In total, this means that Melky should expect to see around 80 PA per month. That’s nearly full-time duty. Therefore, Cabrera should have a chance to find his stroke.
Perhaps the bigger question is: Will Torre give Cabrera another 80 PA in May if he struggles in his 80 PA during April? I hope that Joe sticks with the kid – rather than let him rust on the bench if he doesn’t get out of the blocks in a hurry.
Torre seems to be a Cabrera fan. We may see next month just how much of a fan he is – - again, if Melk continues to slump.