Got Melk? Giants trade Jonathan Sanchez to Royals for Melky Cabrera
Jonathan Sanchez‘s days as a Giant are over.
Nicknamed “The Melk Man” and “Leche,” the switch-hitting Cabrera batted .305/.339/.470 (.809 OPS) with 18 HR, 44 doubles, 87 RBI, 201 hits, 102 runs, and 20 SB in a breakout season with Kansas City last year. Like Sanchez, he is arbitration eligible and will likely receive a decent raise from the $1.25 million he made in 2011. Barring an extension, Cabrera will become a free agent after the 2012 season.
Sanchez, who turns 29 in a couple of weeks, followed up his superb 2010 season (in which he went 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA, 1.231 WHIP and 205 strikeouts) by falling flat on his face in 2011 (4-7, 4.26, 1.441 WHIP, 102 K, and two stints on the disabled list). He’s likely to earn anywhere between $5 and $6 million in 2012.
Verdugo, 24, was drafted in the ninth round of the 2008 draft out of LSU and is a converted starter who did pretty well in Richmond (AA) last year. In 25 starts, the lefty was 8-6 with a 4.35 ERA with 133 strikeouts in 130.1 innings.
Sanchez, who was selected by the Giants in the 27th round of the 2004 draft (and 820th overall), flashed signs of brilliance on some days and signs of frustration on most others.
On one of those brilliant days (July 10, 2009), he became the first Giants pitcher since John Montefusco to throw a no-hitter, against the San Diego Padres. It was a spot start for Sanchez, who was filling in for an injured Randy Johnson at the time. It became even more special because Dirty threw the no-no in front of his father (who was attending one of his son’s games for the first time).
A little over a year later, with his team just 2.5 games behind San Diego, Sanchez predicted the Giants would sweep the Padres in a crucial three-game weekend series. Instead, Dirty lost the first game of the series and the Friars would end up taking two of three.
And so it was for Sanchez, who never could solve his wildness on the mound. His walks total went from 5.2 per 9 innnings in 2006 (his first season) to a whopping 5.9 in 2011.
Cabrera, on the other hand, had a resurgent year in 2011, similar to the kind of year Andres Torres had in 2010. The former Yankee (who was signed at the age of 17 and spent five years in the Bronx, before going to Atlanta in 2010) doesn’t play anywhere near the caliber of defense Torres does, though, so it will be interesting to see if the Giants keep Torres around for defensive purposes.
In a phone conference today with Cabrera, Giants GM Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy, the outfielder noted that weight training was the reason for his breakout season. He also said he plans to use the same program again this winter.
It worked for Pablo Sandoval, right?
Career highlights for Melky Cabrera (from Wikipedia):
11/13/01 — Signed by Yankees at age 17
7/7/05 — Made his Major League debut against the Cleveland Indians in center field at Yankee Stadium
7/7/05 — Collected his first Major League hit in his third at bat and received a standing ovation at Yankee Stadium
7/8/05 — Went 2-for-3 against Cliff Lee and scored his first Major League run
3/20/06 — Batted .349 in 16 games of the World Baseball Classic
5/30/06 — Batting leadoff for just the second time in his career, recorded his first-ever four-hit game, going 4-for-6, missing the cycle by a homer
6/6/06 — Made an outstanding catch in left-center in the 8th inning of a 2-1 game against the Red Sox, leaping over the wall to steal a home run from Boston’s Manny Ramirez. It became known as “The Melky Catch” (which would end up becoming the play of the year, as voted by fans in annual “This Year In Baseball” awards)
7/5/06 — Had his first career 5-RBI game and first career grand slam
7/18/06 — Hit his first career walk-off HR, in the bottom of the 11th against Seattle
9/30/06 — Finished the regular season with 12 outfield assists, second in the AL
6/15/07 — Became the second-youngest Yankee ever (after Mickey Mantle) to hit a walk-off home run
7/7/07 — Not his lucky day, Cabrera tied a Yankees record by striking out five times in a single 13-inning game (platinum sombrero)
7/24/07 — Reached a career-high 19-game hitting streak
4/22/09 — Recorded the first walk-off hit in the new Yankee Stadium, a 2-run HR in 14th inning
5/15/09 — Hit a walk-off single to win the game 5-4
5/23/09 — Recorded another walk-off hit
6/4/09 — Hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to break a 6-6 tie
6/9/09 — Won the Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Month award for May
8/2/09 — Became the first Yankee to hit for the cycle since Tony Fernandez did it on September 3, 1995
8/2/09 — Collected his 200th career RBI
11/4/09 — Helped Yankees defeat the Philadelphia Phillies to win the World Series
12/22/09 — Was traded to the Atlanta Braves with Mike Dunn and pitching prospect Arodys Vizcaino for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan
10/19/10 — Was released by the Braves
12/9/10 — Signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract with the Kansas City Royals
7/29/11 — Hit the Royals’ first grand slam of the season
What others are saying about the trade…
- “Source told me the Giants strongly considering B. Crawford at SS if they could improve lineup elsewhere. Melky is a move in that direction.” — Andrew Baggarly, San Jose Mercury News
- “Stats that leap off the page from Melky Cabrera’s 2010 season: 201 hits, 102 runs scored.” – Carl Steward, San Jose Mercury News
- “Love the Melky Cabrera deal for the Giants. He’s coming off a season very much like Torres had in 2010 — 67 EBH, 20 steals, .305 average.” — Buster Olney, ESPN
- “Trade is basically Sanchy for Good Andres Torres. Melky in 2011: 18 HR, 20 SB, .809 OPS…Torres in 2010: 16 HR, 26 SB, .822 OPS.” — Alex Pavlovic, San Jose Mercury News
- “And the winner of the Brian Sabean Memorial Award for the Most Sabean-Like Move of the Day goes to Brian Sabean” — Jay Jaffe, Baseball Prospectus
- “[Sanchez is] a dynamic lefty who is a breakout candidate.” — Dayton Moore, Royals GM
- “[Cabrera] crosses home plate, and that’s a need here.” — Giants manager Bruce Bochy
- “Downsides on Cabrera: Only 35 walks in 706 plate appearances. Frame of reference: Pablo Sandoval — 32 walks in 466 PA. Also, Braves released him after lackluster 2009, and complained of his lackadaiscal play in the field. Won’t fly at AT&T.” – Carl Steward, San Jose Mercury News
- “Sanchez has allowed just 7.02 hits/9 since 2009, the second-best ratio in MLB to Kershaw.” – David Holtzman, Royals Director of Media Relations
- “Key to Sanchez deal is Royals need to see [Lorenzo] Cain in CF, and are desperate for SP. Great fit, also some concerns.” — Sam Mellinger, Kansas City Star
- “If Melky’s ’12 numbers decline by 20 percent he’d still be a good addition to the lineup.” — Hank Schulman, San Francisco Chronicle
- “At least now we know which ‘Sanchy’ to whom Bochy will be referring.” — Mychael Urban, BugUrbSports
- “Giants fans who complain about Sabean going after old guys should like the fact that Cabera is only 27.” – Carl Steward, San Jose Mercury News
- “[Cabrera] is not a career .300 hitter. But he hit .305 last year and is coming into his FA contract year.” — Hank Schulman, San Francisco Chronicle
- “And that, folks, is why the Giants didn’t sever ties with Barry Zito.” — John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle