November 16, 2006

Got Melky? Then Keep Melky

A few articles ago I offered up the possibility of the Yankees signing free agent Nomar Garciaparra to play first base with Giambi as full time DH. Rumor has it that Nomar is looking to stay on the west coast. The Yankees reportedly want a right-hander to fill this position, and with Gary Sheffield (thankfully) gone, the search begins for a new first baseman. That person should be Melky Cabrera.

Melky, a switch hitter, filled in admirably for Hideki Matsui while he was on the disabled list. His ability to hit, run, throw, and make incredible plays helped save the injury plagued 2006 Yankees from disaster. In fact, because of players like Melky, one of the "Baby Bombers", the Yankees strode into the post season well rested after clinching early.

The big fear is that the Yankees will trade him away for a starting pitcher or some other high-priced free agent. Melky is too good to be let go, yet he deserves to be a full time player. Rather than trade him, let him take over at first base. He's young enough and talented enough to make the switch. Yes, it is easier to change from the infield to the outfield; but, if the Yankees were willing to risk putting thirty eight year old Gary Sheffield at first, in the post-season, no less, then keeping the talented, fan favorite Melky Cabrera and giving him a shot at first should be an easy thing to do.

If the Yankees do indeed remove Melky from the outfield and place him at first, then what do they do about filling in the utility man's role for the outfield? One attractive possibility is free agent Frank Catalanotto of the Blue Jays. A native of Smithtown, a seasoned outfielder who hits for average, Frank Catalanotto would be suitable replacement as he already knows the role. To keep Melky, a young and valuable player, as a utility outfielder, or to trade him would be a waste of a homegrown talent. Melky should play every day, and play at first. Got Melky? The Yankees do, and they should keep him.

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