Statistically speaking, the Braves new left fielder isn't much of an upgrade over Garret Anderson.
Melky Cabrera, acquired today from the Yankees along with two pitching prospects for Javier Vazquez and Boone Logan, hit a career-best 13 home runs last season -- same as Anderson. Cabrera, nicknamed "The Melk Man," drove in seven more runs than Anderson and finished with a slightly higher batting average.
Braves fans -- at least those represented on Braves fan blogs -- are not impressed, fearing the the team got nothing more than a fourth outfielder in exchange for a pitcher who finished fourth in the NL Cy Young balloting.
"Did we trade away Jeff Francoeur last year to acquire the better Ryan Church, only to release Church, and trade for Melky Cabrera, who is likely not as good as Francoeur?" asked Talking Chop, a fan blog. Another, Chop-n-Change, said "it's a clear loss for [Braves General Manager] Frank Wren."
Braves Journal is "disgusted. Lord, what a terrible deal." Tomohawk Take posts that the Braves have weakened the on-field product and "alienated some fans who thought this was the year that was going to be a little bit different. Apparently we've been duped."
While Cabrera rarely dazzles, the native Dominican has earned a reputation as a useful player who does nothing great but most everything well. Braves fans will appreciate his flair for the dramatic; last year he had three walk-off hits in the season's first seven weeks. He was named Major League Baseball's Clutch Performer of the Month in May.
He'll also give the Braves something they're often accused of lacking. "Melky gives us energy," said his former manager, Joe Torre.
Cabrera, 25, is the eldest of the three players the Braves received from New York. The youngest, 19-year-old pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, could be the most special. Baseball America recently rated him the Yankees' third best prospect, and FanGraphs, a widely read national baseball blog, thinks the Braves got "a significantly better return than what Philadelphia got for Cliff Lee."
"But it’s not Cabrera who makes this deal work for Atlanta – that’s Vizcaino, an underhyped 19-year-old who destroyed A-ball as a teenager," according to FanGraphs. "The classic projectable teenage arm, Vizciano throws a mid-90s fastball with a hard breaking curve, and has proven nearly unhittable in his brief professional career. He’s not close to the majors, but he’s a significant upside bet for Atlanta long term."
The Braves haven’t been able to acquire the ace they might have wanted for the top of their rotation, but they secured the depth they needed Monday with the signing of free agent right-hander Gavin Floyd.
One week after the Braves were eliminated by the Dodgers in a four-game division series, Braves general manager Frank Wren met with the team’s beat writers and discussed the 2013 season and the team’s needs going into the offseason.