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Brian,
I really enjoyed your piece on Melky at Pete’s blog. Also, thanks for acknowledging Pete’s effort here. He does a tremendous job and it was nice of him to open his blog to us.

I couldn't agree more. He's really embraced the entire Yankee blogging community and deserves a lot of credit for that.

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Alvaro Espinoza on Jan 30 at 10:10
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Brian,

A couple of things about your post:

PECOTA is not a "stat." It's a projection system that attempts to predict how players will perform in the near future. There are several and PECOTA is typically the best; at the end of the season, the guys at BP evaluate each system based on how close they are to what actually happens during the season.

22-19 is not a .431 winning percentage, it's a .511 winning percentage.

Using the team's record when Melky was used to replace a player who was overall better than he is as evidence that Melky is good is a logical fallacy. Correlation is not the same thing as causation (this was something that also came up when Giambi got injured in 2007, and all of a sudden the Yankees started winning.)

Now, don't get me wrong, I like Melky, but he's not a player who is untouchable in a trade for Johan Santana. You can't just give up players that you don't want in trades - both sides have to lose something (although it seems as if Omar Minaya did pretty well for himself on this one.)

PECOTA is a barometer, just like the other stats I mentioned. You get the point. And the record was 22-29, not 22-19, it was a typo.

Nice job Brian. I figured I'd comment here, since I didnt want to get lost in the sea of comments on the other blog.


Here's the important thing to remember about Melky's performance last year. He was only 22 years old. He should improve with time. And even if he never becomes an elite hitter (personally, I dont think he'll ever be on Bernie's level, since he doesn't have much power), I think his defense will make him a worthwhile player.

I think people have this idea about the Yankees that EVERY player has to be an All-Star, superstar player. And that's not the case. The Yankees will get plenty of offense from A-Rod, Jeter, Posada, Matsui, Cano, etc. They dont need a center fielder that will hit 35 home runs or one who will hit .320, or one that will steal 75 bases. Would it be nice? Yes, of course it would, but it's not a necessity, and many people treat it like it is.

Melky has good enough speed to track down balls in the outfield (even though he takes some bad routes at the moment), and he has an absolute cannon for an arm. THAT is where his contributions will be felt.

As far as improving his htting is concerned, plate discipline should be priority number one. In 2007, he walked 13 times less and struck out 9 times more than he did in 2006, despite playing 20 more games, and having 88 more plate appearances. If he's not going to hit for power (which he won't) his contributions offensively need to come in the form of getting on base a lot, and let the big boppers knock him in.

As far as the tangibles/intangibles thing goes, I think tangibles are the most important thing, but intangibles certainly play a part. I feel like most people either emphasize intangibles too much (leading people to argue that David Eckstein was the key to the 2006 Cardinals) or don't emphasize it enough (like claiming that intangibles are total nonsense).

Think about it like this: Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and Jorge Posada are all in their 30's. Each of them have played over 1500 major league games. Their financial futures are set, so "playing for their next contract" isnt really a motivating factor. They spend several months traveling, jumping on a plane and flying every three days, staying in hotel rooms, taking batting practice every day, fielding practice every day, playing a 3.5 hour game every night, talking to reporters, doing promotional work. They're nicked up, they've got nagging injuries, their bodies don't recover from those little nagging injuries the way they used to. This is reality for an MLB player in his 30's.

It would be very easy for guys like Jeter and Posada to get worn down, get discouraged, lose that competitive fire, etc. We all would. It's human nature. We often like to put these athletes on pedestals and assume that they're not affected by these things, just because they are elite athletes. But they are human beings, and they can lose their mental edge just like any of the rest of us can.

That's where Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano can help out the older guys. Put them in the right frame of mind, make them happy, help them forget about their troubles, etc.

And look, I'm, a realist. I realize that having Melky Cabrera in the locker won't turn Wilson Betemit into the next Albert Pujols. And I know it won't turn Alex Rodriguez from a 50 home run hitter to a 70 home run hitter. But it's gotta have SOME effect, right? Won't it make the good hitters just a little bit better?

Even if these "intangibles" make the rest of the team only 1% better, isn't it still worth it, considering how closely contested the pennant races usually are?

Tom,

Great comments. During the season I used an analogy when talking about Melky:

When you have an older dog, who is seemingly running on fumes, sometimes if you get a puppy it will perk up the older dog. The older dog will start doing tricks again, generally enjoying life. It can extend the life of the older dog. Melky is the puppy.

Brian, please email me back. I have to make a decision on what network to join, and I would like to at least be informed as to when you'll be replying. Again, I'm sorry for being so impatient, but with all of the great MLB stories going around right now, I'm eager to join a network.

Brian-

Good post over at Lohud. Sorry I missed the commenting, looks like ther'll be a few more fans comin' to check out this great blog!

Lookin forward to more of the same incite from last season.

To all the new readers- Stay tund here, Brian does a good job of pre and post game analysis. One thing I will miss though are the letters to Joe Torre.

Any chance General Joe migbht be gettin any of those letters this season??

Thanks Aaron. General Joe will be getting his first letter during Spring Training.

Brian-

Just saw on ESPN that we signed Morgan Ensberg to a 1 yr. deal....

Seems low risk, what do you think?

I hope he doesn't take at bats away from Frankenstein. That's my only concern. I would guess there is zero risk involved, might even be a minor-league contract.


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