Spilled Melk and It’s All Brandon Belt’s Fault
August 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
Melky Cabrera becomes the second Giant this year after Guillermo Mota to test positive for a banned substance. The player known affectionately as the Melkman has been suspended for higher than acceptable ratio between testosterone and epitestosterone. Keith Law says it is obvious for the Giants to react to this by sending Brandon Belt to Fresno. (http://twitter.com/keithlaw/status/235812336710070272) Just kidding. Wait… Bruce Bochy… Brian “Savvy” Sabean… NO!
That’s correct, Senator Clay Davis. Major crime by Melky Cabrera and some redemption for CSN Bay Area Insider Andrew Baggarly (even if he will not say it in front of the cameras) for some early questioning over then-unsubstantiated rumors about Melky and Performance Enhancing Drugs a few weeks back. Manager Bruce Bochy maintains that he did not find out about the news until earlier this morning, requiring a drastic line-up change in which Gregor Blanco gets to see the light of day.
What does this mean for the rest of the season?
After today’s loss to the Nationals and the Dodgers’ current game against the Pirates in Pittsburgh, the Giants are currently sitting in second place in the NL West, half a game behind the Dodgers. They are currently one game back, along with the St. Louis Cardinals behind Pittsburgh for the second of two NL wild card spots with 44 games left to play.
Cabrera’s suspension leaves fans and his teammates alike brokenhearted today. The second game of the National series at home provided a glimpse of what our potent lineup could have been with Pablo Sandoval back from his hamstring injury. Angel Pagan proves again to be a suitable leadoff man and a hot-hitting set of Brandons flank the hot-hitting catcher they call “Buster.” My, was that glimpse of hope fleeting.
The suspension effectively ends Cabrera’s regular season (he started serving it today) and goes into the first five games of the playoffs, if the Giants make it that far. Fans and the team will have to settle for a less than optimal offense.
Who does that affect in the line and on the bench?
Gregor “The Great White” Blanco may get most of the starts in left field, unless Bochy can find a way to fit in Belt in LF when Hector Sanchez catches and Buster Posey plays first base on his “days off.” Traditionalists see Blanco still slumping and prefer Sanchez. Sabermetrics find that Blanco creates just as much offense as Sanchez. What will give in? With OF Justin Christian and 1B Brett Pill on their way up from Fresno, Bochy could play Christian to give Blanco or Pagan some rest. As for Pill, Bochy can play him when he still insists that Brandon Belt cannot swing the bat well against left-handed pitching. We’ll see how this works out these next few series.
The bottom line is that it will be tough to replace the Melkman’s production. As of today, he ranks first in the NL in hits (159), first in triples (10) and second in batting average (.346). Melky will not be allowed to practice or work out with the team leading up to the playoff, so he will not be an attractive option when the Giants round out their playoff roster. It is unlikely the team would want a rusty outfielder on their roster when the competition steps up in October. Let’s hope we still have the recipe to win a World Series lying around somewhere…
How does it affect Melky’s value?
Melky is playing out the last year of his contract. His production this year following his very productive season in Kansas City set him up to be rewarded very well financially. Analysts were predicting that he would earn a contract where the Average Annual Value of each year would be worth at least 14 to 15 million dollars.
His suspension drives his value way down. On one hand, I think it makes him very cheap for a one-year deal that asks for 9 to 12 million dollars. However, if his asking price after the season is for more than 12… I am reluctant to give him a large contract when the offensive production may not stay at such an elite level for much longer. Will it be enough to have him agree to an Aaron Rowand-like contract (5 years/60 million)? Will the marriage between the Giants and Melky last that long to warrant handing out that contract?
As for right now, even if we do not spend time speculating about Melky’s future in San Francisco, today is a very sad day for Giants fans.