LADY AT THE BAT: The Melkman's Late(st) Delivery

Sunday, September 23, 2007

The Melkman's Late(st) Delivery

If Melky Cabrera had played on the Yankee teams of the '70s and '80s he'd have been traded long before he had a chance to develop into a Major League player. There'd have been none of the waiting and encouragement given to the Melkman while he fought his way out of slumps and made mental errors throughout a long Big League season. Imagine if Eric Gagne was a Texas Ranger during that time, and the trade deadline approached. Gagne would have ended up in pinstripes and Cabrera would be slugging it out at that old ballpark the Rangers played in years ago.

But this is 2007. The Yankees don't trade away their future anymore. Melky Cabrera is still with the Yankees, and last night he proved why he's worth keeping, by driving in five runs in the game's final four innings, including the game-winner in the bottom of the 10th inning. After the game he expressed gratitude to his coaches and teammates for sticking by him during his end-of-season hitting slump and making him feel like he belonged.

How much does Melky Cabrera belong? He's the Yankee centerfielder, that's how much. Johnny Damon has been relegated to leftfield/DH, along with his aching legs and big contract. With his gun for an arm, baserunners on opposing teams are finding out the hard way that you don't run on the Melkman. I wouldn't be suprised if, at some point in the future, when people talk about the line of great Yankee Centerfielders, the list will read: DiMaggio, Mantle, Blair, Williams, and Cabrera.

The Lady

[Photo: Bill Kostroun/AP]

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