Tag Archives: Melky Cabrera

White Sox Trade Melky Cabrera to Royals

By Connor McKnight, WLS-AM News

(CHICAGO) Just before Sunday’s game against the Indians, the White Sox completed their sixth trade since the start of 2017. This time, Melky Cabrera, and cash, was sent to the Kansas City Royals for two pitchers, A.J. Puckett and Andre Davis. Meekly is the ninth player to be traded by GM Rick Hahn since the team began the rebuilding process this winter. In all, the six trades have returned 19 prospects to the organization–10 of whom are rated in the top 100 Prospects by MLB.com.

Melky, one of the last tradable assets on the 25-man roster, was a leader in the club house and professional hitter. Since the start of June, Cabrera slashed .325/.358/.483 and played a solid, if unorthodox, left field for the White Sox.

After announcing the trade, the White Sox reinstated Leury Garcia from the DL. Garcia had been on the shelf since June 16th with a finger sprain and went 0-4 in his lone rehab game at AAA Charlotte on Saturday night. Garcia was then subbed into the lineup for Cabrera.

The MLB Trade Deadline is 3 p.m. CST on Monday afternoon. The White Sox could, theoretically, still trade a player or two. Miguel Gonzalez has pitched well since coming off the DL (three starts, 19.1 IP, 2.33 ERA) and could be a piece added to the back-end of a contender’s rotation or even into the bullpen. Infielders Yolmer Sanchez and Tyler Saladino have show enough defensive ability to be a utility player on any team although their offensive potential may not boost their trade value all that much.

Jose Abreu is unlikely to move but has produced enough at the plate that a team could make an offer for him. Whether the White Sox would move a player that, with all the trades, has become the center and heart of the clubhouse is a fair question.


@ 2017 WLS-AM Sports

Cabrera Redefines The “Rules” Of The Lead-Off Role

By Cat Garcia

The so-called “rules” of the lead-off role in baseball have been vastly fluid over the last few seasons or so — and even just as of the last few days — on both sides of Chicago.

On the North Side, for the first time in his career, Anthony Rizzo led off for the Cubs this week. Rizzo hit two home runs in back-to-back games while leading off.

On the South Side of town, White Sox manager Rick Renteria decided to shakes things up a bit too — batting left fielder Melky Cabrera, a resident of the two spot (or lower), as his lead-off batter for just the fifth time this season.

“We’ve done it this year. We’ve done it maybe four or five times,” Renteria said pre-game about having Cabrera lead off. “Just moving him up in the lineup a little bit let him give us the spark today.”

In his career, Cabrera has batted lead off in 141 games and put up a line of .282/.344/.401 with 10 home runs — one of which came this season. In his time batting at the top of the order, Cabrera has the lowest strikeout percentage of any other spot in the lineup in which he’s hit, sitting at just 10.7 percent, while maintaining his third highest walk rate in the lead off spot at 8.4 percent.

“I think a Ricky Henderson type would be my ideal lead-off guy,” Renteria quipped pre-game. “But there aren’t too many of those guys around.”

Cabrera, who last was in the lead-off spot for the White Sox on May 11th, seemed to take well to the new role. Cabrera went 3-5 with two singles on Thursday against Baltimore, including a two RBI single with the bases loaded.

“His at-bats are obviously very good. I know we’ve talked about it before. Earlier in his career, the lead-off role didn’t show very well for him,” Renteria said. “Over the last three or four years, though, he has lead off and has shown an ability to master that slot in the times that he’s been there.”

Cabrera is batting lead-off for the first time in a White Sox uniform this year… and for the first time since 2014, when he was in Toronto — a season in which he put up a career best average of .338 at the top of the order.

“Wherever the manager slots me in the lineup, I’m going to try to do my job,” Cabrera said post game. “For me it’s just [about having] a good team; it doesn’t matter what position in the lineup I’m in. I am confident and I know that they are counting on me for help and to win games and I’m trying to win games too.”

But despite the fact that Cabrera had a successful game today in the lead-off spot, and has been batting a relatively healthy line there this season, don’t expect to see Cabrera getting too cozy at the top of the order. “This is an occasional thing, this is not a trend for me.” Renteria said.

Cabrera is having success in 2017 — despite that not being reflected in his stat line, which sits at .274/.328/.378 currently. His plate approach is maturing with age. The 32-year old is currently walking in 7.5% of his plate appearances — his best rate since 2010 — while striking out just at just 12.1%. His strikeout rate is currently second best on the team, just behind catcher Omar Narvaez. Cabrera is also swinging at pitches outside the zone at a clip that’s 3 percentage points lower than 2016, while swinging the bat overall just a tad less. Patience is a virtue, and it’s paying off for Cabrera.

Cabrera is not likely to be moved at the trade deadline unless he sees some sort of solid and consistent surge in his offensive profile. His contract is up at the end of the season, and, therefore, he would simply be a “rental” — and would not likely merit a proper return value. For now, Cabrera is best suited just as he wishes — anywhere in the lineup that Renteria slots him.  This gives him a chance to help his team win — something he certainly did in Thursday’s series finale against the Orioles.

A Sale of Two Cities

The question was on the tip of everyone’s tongue and the forefront of everyone’s minds on Tuesday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field; What’s it going to be like facing your former teammate Chris Sale?

The mark that Sale left on the White Sox clubhouse he used to call home was unmistakable as teammates remembered Sale fondly, not just as a teammate and a competitor but as a friend.

“He was just a great guy. He was just a guy who if you ever needed anything he was there for you,” Todd Frazier said before Tuesday’s matchup. “We became real close over a six, eight month span, and I still talk to him today. He’s a friend you can talk to.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be Sale’s return trip to his old stomping grounds without a good jersey cutting remark. “I think that’d be a great idea,” Frazier replied when asked if he thought it would be good homage to wear the throwback jersey style Sale famously cut up before a start last July. “I don’t know if we can wear the cut-up ones, but maybe we can put some tape around some of the shirts like Edward Scissorhands out there or something. That’d be cool. I think he’d probably chuckle at that too, why not?”

But, all joking aside, at the end of the day the goal for the White Sox was to go out and face the American League’s best lefty on the mound—whether he be a friend or a former teammate was left in the dugout as the team took the field, thirsty for a win.

“He was my teammate for two years and I like him. Now it’s just we are competing against each other,” Jose Abreu said through an interpreter Tuesday afternoon on facing Sale. “He’s with the Red Sox and we are now here and have to face him. I know that he is going to try to do his best and we are also going to try to do our best.”

Unfortunately for the White Sox, things didn’t go their way as the evening which promised a pitcher’s duel and instead delivered a slug fest ended with the Boston taking the match 13-7.

“Who would have thought that with the two starters on the mound tonight that we’d have nearly 150 pitches thrown between them through three innings,” Boston manager John Farrell said after Tuesday’s game.

“I stunk tonight. I didn’t do a whole lot to help us win,” Sale told the media post game. Sale allowed 10 hits and five earned runs in just five innings pitched, marking Sale’s shortest outing of the season and shortest outing since his last start in a White Sox uniform on October 2nd of 2016.

“I don’t think I was very accurate either. I don’t think I was throwing to specific spots, just throwing to general areas, too.” Sale still managed to strike out nine White Sox batters on the evening despite the erratic outing.

So how did it feel for Sale to be back on the mound he called home for seven season? “Different. But the same. I’ve thrown off that mound however many times it was. A little different coming from the first-base side,” Sale said, clearly fueled by bouts of nostalgia as he answered questions with a heartfelt tone in his voice.

“This is where I called home for a long time. A little piece of my heart will always be here for sure. I gave these guys everything I had while I was here, and I’m appreciative they do the same in return.”

As for Quintana, there’s still no real concern. “He’s passing through a very tough moment on the mound, he’s one of the best pitchers in the league and we have plenty of confidence in him,” Melky Cabrera said about Quintana’s struggled through an interpreter after Tuesday’s game.

“He’s just a little up in the zone,” Kevan Smith said. “I’ve told him, when he’s successful he lives in that zone knee to shins, we’re just like six inches above that, and you could tell when he really started thinking about it we started losing control and he was almost too far down,” Smith continued about Quintana’s location Tuesday night.

Quintana’s struggles have cascaded recently, leading him to a 5.60 ERA in his 11 starts this season. But the White Sox have seen what Quintana is capable of, it’s just a matter of getting him out of his own head and helping him regain confidence. “It’s just one of those things where you have to get confidence back,” Smith said. “He has the stuff, obviously we’ve all seen it. He’s just got to go out there, work hard and get back to the Q we all know.”

The White Sox will finish their series with Boston on Wednesday evening at Guaranteed Rate Field, and as for Sale Day, was the lanky hurler glad his return to Chicago is over? “No. It was nothing like that. I was actually looking forward to tonight. Pitching against my buddies, my old team.” Sale said. “Obviously the end result wasn’t what we had expected. By no means am I glad that this is over. I wish I enjoyed it more, but it was something I was looking forward to.”

Until next time, Boston.

My Right Arm for a Lefty Bat

Over the course of the White Sox six-game losing streak, runs have been tough to come by. No kidding, right? That’s what makes a losing streak. Still even when the White Sox have clicked, there’s been a glaring deficiency: A lefty bat.

Friday night against Jhoulys Chacin, the White Sox two-through-six hitters were all right handed. Chacin, also, is right handed. The White Sox entered the game hitting .218 off right handed pitching–last in the league. The White Sox two-through-six went 2-15 with one walk and three strikeouts against right handed pitching. The White Sox could really use a lefty bat.

That’s not so say they don’t have just such bats. After starting hot with two doubles in the season opener and steady work through April, it’s been a rough May for Melky Cabrera. Melky (who’s obviously a switch hitter) has much better numbers against right handers (.256/.308/.341) this year than left handers (.182/.250/.273) but neither slash line really jumps off the page. That such a veteran and versatile bat has been cold to start the year has been tough for the Sox to swallow. Good news is Melky is hardly striking out. Perhaps it’s just a run of the mill slump. After a putting up a .289/.429/.667 slash line in Spring Training, Cody Asche looked like he might give the White Sox some of the balance they needed. At least he’d be counted on to give a competitive at-bat in a platoon split with Matt Davidson in the corner/DH role but Asche’s struggles have been mighty and lengthy. Yolmer Sanchez gives a bit of pop off the bench and in situational roles but the switch-hitting, sawed-off utility man is buried behind Tyler Saladino and Tim Anderson in the middle of the infield and, Matt Davidson and Todd Frazier at third.

Omar Narvaez has been productive, but in a very unsurprising way. His .377 OBP is second on the team (Avisail Garcia is first at .382) but he simply doesn’t hit for power. Don’t get me wrong, a .260 average and a .380 on-base is just fine for a backstop but it seems the plan all along was to have Narvaez work in a time share with Geovany Soto (now Kevan Smith with Soto on the DL for the second time). That plan, too, makes sense as Narvaez has just 388 plate appearances above high A ball with 183 of those coming in The Show. How nuts is that? Kind of makes you look at ‘ol Omar (he’s 25) in a different light.

Which brings us to another switch hitter: Leury Garcia. The Middle Garcia. After plugging two home runs in Friday night’s loss to the Padres, the Median Garcia is hitting .304/.343/.489. It gives him the second highest average, the third highest on-base, and the third highest slugging percentage on the White Sox this year. Leury the Middlemost has never hit for power. Ever. His career slugging percentage in the minor leagues is .275 though, to be fair, he did hit the crap out of the ball in the 2011 Arizona Fall League (.361/.379/.590). Right now, past be damned, Leury might be the most intriguing player on the White Sox. He just turned 26. He can handle at least three and possibly up to six positions at major-league average caliber. He has raked. His strikeout rate, which was at 27 percent all through his minor league career and 33 percent in all of his major league time, is at 14 percent this year. Fourteen percent! That’s in the DJ LeMahieu-Francisco Lindor-Ian Kinsler-Anthony Rizzo range.

I have no idea if Leury can rise above the Mean and become Leury the… well… other meaning of mean. Odds are, no, he can’t keep up this kind of production. But, hell, every early-season column ends up with that same conclusion and that’s absolutely no fun. So, for now, enjoy what we’re watching and just maybe the White Sox have helped Leury elevate from the middle ground.

White Sox at the Deadline

The trade deadline has come and gone and Chris Sale and Jose Quintana remain White Sox. As the Sox’ endured a 28-44 slide since May 9th, I heard from plenty of fans calling into the Post Game Show advocating moving one or both of those top-tier arms. It seems pretty clear, given the vast quantity of reports, that overtures were made for each. Any team seeking to add one of the White Sox’ gems would have to pay dearly. Sale and Quintana, had they been dealt, would have easily been the best pitcher to have moved at the deadline. It wouldn’t have been close.

Instead, they remain. White Sox GM Rick Hahn told reporters that nothing every came close enough to have to take to owner Jerry Reinsdorf for approval.

I have a guess as to what that means. I’d guess that Hahn would have only flipped Sale/Quintana in packages that included current major leaguers. The White Sox aren’t into the complete tear down. Not the way the Astros did it. Not the way the Cubs did it. Definitely not whatever the Braves are doing.

“Rebuild on the fly” is a slightly more apt description in that it covers the desire to compete at all times. If the Rangers wanted Sale, I’d be the White Sox needed Nomar Mazara to make that happen. If the Red Sox asked about either (or both) the White Sox likely were asking that Mookie Betts make his way to the Southside.

Hahn would have been right to want those players. The Rangers and Red Sox would have been right to pass—for now.

I see the situation as an “If, then” statement. If the White Sox are to deal one or both of Sale and or Quintana, then it will happen in the winter when Mazara’s and Betts’ are more likely to move.

That said, I’m curious as to why a few other players are still on the squad.

In his age 31 season, Melky Cabrera has been the White Sox most consistent and effective offensive threat. Hands down. He’s owed the remainder of his $14 million dollar salary this year and in 2017 he’s owed $15 million. Compare that to Carlos Beltran who, at have 39, is having a rebirth. Beltran was flipped from the Yankees to the Rangers for three prospects. One of whom, Dillon Tate, is a former fourth-overall pick. Tate has lost some considerable shine in the past season but at 22, has plenty of room to bounce back.

Beltran, owed the rest of his $15 million this season and $15 for 2017, compares favorable to Cabrera. They’re both switch hitters. They’ve both played on big stages. They’re both producing. Take a look:

Cabrera v LHP – .351/..377/.554

Cabrera v RHP – .302/.355/.454

Beltran v LHP – .351/.405/.640

Beltran v. RHP – .282/.314/.502

Beltran gets an edge in the power category—no doubt about it. Still, Cabrera’s consistent on-base skills are superior and, unlike Beltran, Cabrera can play a corner outfield spot which makes him trade-worthy in two leagues.

The Yankees are 5.5 games out of the Wild Card. The White Sox are 7.5 games behind.

Also, there’s the eight year age difference. Cabrera would have brought back a solid return.

Instead, the White Sox have kept together a group that could be highly mobile during this offseason or at next year’s trade deadline. Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera reach free agency after the 2017 season. Everyone else is under contract or team control. While the Sox showed they’re capable of playing great baseball through the first six weeks of the season, it’s yet to be seen wether they’ve got another six weeks like that in them. Even if they do, will it be enough to change minds?