Buy (Guys ready to make the leap to major league notoriety.)
Melky Cabrera, CF, New York Yankees
This year, Melky Cabrera is making a paltry $461,200. The competition to take his spot as starting center fielder, Johnny Damon, is making $13M. This is more than 28 times Cabrera’s salary.
Despite this travesty, Cabrera is outplaying Damon and, in fact, most of the American League’s center fielders.
Currently batting .289 with five home runs and 11 RBI, Cabrera also has a cannon for an arm and is no scrub in the center field gaps. He has an outfield assist to his name on the year, a statistic which led the majors last year with 14.
Cabrera isn’t doing any disservice to himself in the field but, as we all know, the Yankees are about hitting. Cabrera’s stats this year indicate that when he comes to the plate, the only fear will be from the opposite dugout.
A career .276 hitter, it would be foolish to expect Cabrera’s average to be above .300 this year. But for a player with a high on-base percentage, like Cabrera, it is not silly to expect him to stay in the high .280s this season.
But that’s not where Cabrera’s value lies. The 2008 season has all the makings of a breakout season in the power category for Mr. Cabrera.
Melky is slugging at a much higher rate, and can flirt with 30 homers by the end of the year. He is a solid RBI guy, and those numbers will increase dramatically as his average with runners in scoring position improves from its current .188 mark.
Expect to hear Melky Cabrera’s name more often this season.
Hold (Let’s wait this one out.)
Prince Fielder, 1B, Milwaukee Brewers
A lot of hubbub has circled around Ryan Howard’s slow start.
Not to say that the baseball world shouldn’t be concerned about Howard’s slow start, but another slow opening (by a player that had a better season than Howard in 2007) has gone relatively unnoticed.
Prince Fielder, with a 2007 consisting of 50 home runs and 119 RBI, along with a .288 batting average—a full 20 points higher than Howard—has been struggling mightily this year.
Batting a paltry .244, the Prince’s RBI numbers have been solid (he has 18 as of Tuesday), but his power numbers have been down, specifically in the home run department. If his current stats continue on their current trend, he will finish with more doubles than home runs.
I expect Prince’s slugging percentage and RBI numbers to stay strong, but you have to wonder when the average and home run numbers are going to spring to life.
If Prince can get to the .270 batting average range and double his home run total, he should have an MVP-type season. I expect Prince to do just that, because even when he is struggling, he still is near the top of the league in significant categories.
Sell (Don’t wait around for this guy!)
Troy Glaus, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
Look at Troy Glaus’ production at this point: .261/1/18.
Look at his stats from 2007 in Toronto: .262/20/62
While Glaus did have a solid power-hitting season in 2006, it has been documented that he was using human growth hormone, something that should not be devalued when it comes to Glaus’ performance.
That said, Glaus is on a hot streak right now in St. Louis, boasting a batting average of .261, and is supposedly clean from performance-enhancing substances.
What I ask is this: if, during a supposed hot streak over the last seven games, Glaus is batting .286 with only one home run, what does that say for the majority of the year when he isn’t hot? More importantly, what does that say when he is cold?
Glaus’ power numbers are indicative of a post-steroid era player, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the category of home runs. For a player, when healthy—and juiced—who was a threat for 40 home runs every year to have one after a month of the season is beyond disappointing.
Troy Glaus is staring down the pipe at a .250/15/80 season. For a supposedly elite third baseman, it would seem to even the casual observer that Glaus is over the hill.
I would argue that if it looks, smells, and tastes like a bad season, it will be a bad season. Troy Glaus has the unholy trifecta, and I would move away from the problem that he is as soon as possible.