As has been obvious for months, basically, Melky Cabrera simply can’t play adequately in the outfield right now, and while the play above was the cherry on top of the giant pile of shit, it’s his legs that have been his undoing. The Jays, mercifully, have stopped trying to hump the dream that he’s passable, placing him on the DL following tonight’s disaster in Anaheim, and calling up Neil Wagner to help ease a bullpen that once again needed to clean up a turd of another kind, which came again from the arm of Josh Johnson.
With a $16-million contract and a two-year commitment to play left field, it’s not like John Gibbons has had much choice but to run Melky out there this year, but with his legs– and the season– in the condition they’re currently in, it’s clearly become untenable.
Maybe it always was– the Jays starters’ second-worst-in-the-league ERA can’t have been helped by poor defence too often at a few too many positions, though their second-worst-in-the-league FIP suggests it’s more down to the pitchers– and certainly they’ll have to reconsider what to do with him next season, as he’s looked far more like a DH than an outfielder this year. And maybe not even that!
Cabrera has been woeful at the plate this year, posting just a .321 on-base in the most hollow way imaginable. His .082 ISO is a career low, eleventh worst among 152 qualified big leaguers, and a far cry from last year’s .170 mark. The most hopelessly reductive thinkers among us, of course, will think they know exactly why Cabrera’s power has been sapped post-PED suspension, but I think it’s completely reasonable to believe the leg issues may have had a lot to do with it as well. Whether his legs deteriorated in the absence of PEDs is, perhaps, another story. Regardless, the key takeaway from this year has been that, while some regression was completely expected by even those of us who are reluctant to assume too much about just how much the PEDs inflated his numbers, as it has been with so many things for these 2013 Jays, the Baseball Gods seem to have shit the worst case scenario down our throats.
Let me put it this way: heading into next year I’m not sure the Jays can just ditch Adam Lind and slide Melky into the DH spot. It’s an insane thought given where the two were a year ago, but its been an insane season. And, as regular readers will know, I’m not even particularly enamored with Lind, at this point, good as he’s been this year. It’s just… picking up his $7-million option only costs the club $5-million (because he’s got a $2-million buyout), and I’m not sure he isn’t going to be the better hitter– especially if, as Gibbons was doing before a mid-season hot streak, he’s utilized properly and shielded from all but the weakest left-handers.
Shit, he might even be the better choice in the field, too.
So what do you do? There isn’t a real easy answer beyond the overly simplistic “trade ‘em all,” and ultimately the unsatisfying answer may be to keep them both and hope for the best.
It’s not like this club isn’t going to go into 2014 with a number of giant question marks anyway. Which isn’t different than any other team, frankly. And I think we’ve learned by now that even what seems like a team that’s got all the bases covered can turn into a giant swirling disasterfuck.
Take Josh Johnson, for example. He shit the bed again tonight (you don’t need me to regurgitate the gory details, I’m sure) and continues to be beyond awful– not even half the player he was last season, when he put up WARs slightly above three by both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference in what we hoped was his first, shaky attempt to reinvent himself post-injury.
So much for that, eh?
Through the night I maintained on Twitter– and still do maintain– that one more horrific outing doesn’t make a whole lot of difference when it comes to the consideration of whether to make him a qualifying offer after the season. If he turns it around and shows anything before the end of the year, I think they will, and should, do it. Writing him off right now, as cathartic as it may feel in the face of these garbage results, is as pointless as it is ridiculous– after all, this is a guy who, back in the spring, we were scheming to find ways the Jays might be able to extend him at less than a market rate pegged at more than $100-million.
That said, he’s making it very fucking difficult for such an experiment to continue playing out until the end of September– as I think it absolutely should, for the good of the asset– to not become entirely untenable. They just can’t let him run out there and get shitcanned every five days and blow up the bullpen in the process.
He’s still on the club for now– no mystery injury was concocted in time for tonight’s roster moves– and he’d need to consent to a demotion (which doesn’t seem terribly likely in the he stretch of a contract year) if they tried to bus him down, so… for now he seems in line to make his next start.
I’m OK with that, actually, and I still believe the stuff and the pedigree is there enough for him to get things turned around. I still think there must be something mechanical he can hit on to limit his struggles from the stretch– or that, perhaps, he’s tipping his pitches, which… even though the Jays said last week they’d considered it and found that he wasn’t, if he were, are they really going to go public with the fact?
But for all the optimism I’m trying to maintain in the face of some really, really, really easily picked low-hanging fruit here, the thing is, if the Jays are more of the same mind as their most frustrated, pissiest of fans and decide they can’t take it anymore, could I blame them?
I soooooooo couldn’t.
Yes, it’s that bad. Even if, as far as the arguing over the $14-million qualifying offer goes, we really just need to be patient and hope for the best.
Uh… you’ll probably want to get used to that phrase. Welcome to the next six months!
Image via Gamereax.