It's long-overdue that I should eat some crow for this post
. I admit it, I not only bought into the hype over the Melk Man, but I did everything I could to cause it.
It all started for me in 2006, when the kid came up, showed a cannon for an arm and drew 56 walks while only striking out 59 times. Since, I've been using a month here and a month there of really good production as signs that he really was that patient hitter who could help the team with his bat and his glove. It's become apparent that he is not. As the guys at River Ave Blues
and Peter Abraham
point out on a daily basis, it's been two years of poor production at this point. This is probably what Melky is going to be.
That being said, until Matsui gets back, do the Yanks really have a better option? Yes, Melky has an atrocious .242/.298/.340 stat line, so should the Yanks sit him every day in favor of Betemit's .250/.273/.410 or Richie Sexson's .226/.323/.391? Or maybe Brett Gardner's .153/.227/.169 was impressive enough to supplant Melky.
The fact of the matter is that right now, against righties, Melky's defense in center is more valuable than any slight offensive edge the other guys may give you. When they face a lefty, Sexson should probably play first, Giambi should DH and Damon should play center. Against lefties, Sexson is a legitimate upgrade over Melky in the lineup, against righties, it's pretty much a wash and when all things are equal, you go with the better defense, especially in center.
Next year, we're going to have to hope Gardner can really take the next step, or Ajax can almost completely skip a level. For this season, though, Melky is still the best option we have in center when we're facing a righty. When Matsui gets back, well, Melky suddenly becomes your fourth outfielder on a regular basis.