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Up until the day he was suspended for using steroids, it seemed like a natural step for the Phillies to pursue Melky Cabrera to play center field. He was everything they could want: a young, defensively sound, switch-hitting outfielder only beginning to reach his prime years.
Finally, after five underwhelming seasons in the Bronx and then another miserable one in Atlanta, Cabrera had finally seemed to put it all together. He had a great season for Kansas City in 2011, and was off to an even better start in 2012.
Then a 50-game steroid suspension ended his season, and a lot of potential free-agent offers that would have come this winter.
Who is Melky Cabrera? Is he the player who was leading the league in hitting and had won the All-Star game MVP in 2012, or is he the below-average player he’s been throughout his career?
The steroid suspension probably cost Cabrera a lot of money, but there will undoubtedly be some baseball owner or general manager who’s willing to buy low (relatively speaking) and guarantee Cabrera two or three years. No one last year believed Prince Fielder would get $214 million, but he proved it only takes one team willing to dish it out to cash in. Let’s hope it’s not the Phillies.
It’s probably foolish to believe that the steroids that helped Cabrera along in his MVP-like first half in 2012 also didn’t have a positive impact on his 2011 season in Kansas City. It’s probably better to look at his first five years—when he slashed .267/.329/.380—than the steroid-induced most recent two.
Melky Cabrera in a Phillies uniform would be a mistake, no matter the (little) cost. He’s a below-average player, a fourth outfielder at best and an alleged clubhouse cancer. Let someone else have that headache.