If this deal is a straight one-for-one deal as advertised, it is clearly a great pickup for the Yankees. Obviously, Cameron is on the down side of his career, but Melky hasn’t really shown any upside. As anyone who reads this site should know by now, I believe in young talent and being patient. Those who think Hughes and Kennedy are busts are terribly shortsighted.
But hitting is a little different. Melky’s best season came in 2006 when he posted an OPS+ of 95 in 460ABs. He showed patience (.360 OBP) but little power (.391 SLG). The thought was the power would develop. But the next year he posted an OPS+ of 89, with less patience (.327 OBP) and the same power (.391 SLG). At this point, us optimists figured that the league had made their adjustments against Melky; now it was his turn to adjust back.
Well that never happened. Melky posted an OPS+ of 68 last year, getting on base even less (.301) and hitting for even less power (.341). He was sent down to Triple-A and didn’t exactly tear things up there. Melky will only be 24 next season, so obviously he still has time to put together a good career, and the Brewers are willing to roll the dice and save $10 million (Cameron’s salary) in the process.
Maybe the Melk-man will turn things around; he’s a player who is fun to cheer for (I came very close to buying a “Got Melk?” T-Shirt at one point…). But the Yankees had to say goodbye. Why? Well let’s take a look at who the Yankees get back.
Mike Cameron has always been known for his defence, which, while maybe not as strong as it used to be, is still an asset. Offensively, he is the model of consistency: he has had an OPS+ of over 100 every year since 1998. Last year, his OPS+ was 110, so he doesn’t appear to be in a great decline.
He’s going to play a solid CF, throw up an OBP around .330 or so, and hit 20+ home runs. Yes, he strikes out a good deal, but remember he will be the 8 or 9 hitter for the Yankees and the bottom line is he will make a pitcher pay for a mistake. Not to mention the Yankees need right handed power and have left handed Brett Gardner to occasionally fill-in.
As always, seems like the Yankees were able to get a disproportinate amount of talent in trade because of money. Originally, there were rumors that it would take Ian Kennedy to get this deal done, but at the end of the day there simply aren’t a lot of teams looking to shell out $10 million for a center fielder; to the Yankees though, this is money well spent.