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Melky Cabrera to the Giants Has Been the Best Offseason Move so Far

Paul Francis Sullivan@@sullybaseballChief Writer IJune 1, 2012

Associated Press
Associated Press

In an offseason filled with high-profile free-agent signings and big trades, so far, it was a more obscure deal that has produced the biggest results in 2012. When the Giants traded Jonathan Sanchez to the Kansas City Royals for Melky Cabrera, it looked like the swapping of enigmas.

Sanchez was an undeniably talented yet maddeningly inconsistent pitcher for the Giants. He could throw a no-hitter one game and be shelled in the fourth the next. In the 2010 postseason, he was masterful against the Braves and could not make it out of the third inning during the clinching Game 6 against Philadelphia.

Cabrera played spectacular defense in the outfield, but was inconsistent at the plate. He hit for the cycle in one game, but could never hit enough to keep an everyday job for long with the Yankees. After winning a World Series in the Bronx, he seemed destined to bounce from team to team. He stopped in Atlanta for 2010 before having the best year of his career in Kansas City last year.

It seemed like a good deal for both teams. The young Royals would get a pitcher with World Series experience and the need of a change of scenery. The Giants would get a gap hitting outfielder.

The deal was hardly a blockbuster. Very few offseason wrap-ups would rank this move alongside signing Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols or Jose Reyes. The trades involving Michael Pineda, Jesus Montero, Trevor Cahill and Andrew Bailey got a lot more attention.

But as the season is about one-third finished, what deal has worked out better for a team than Cabrera with the Giants?

He leads the league in batting average and hits. His 50 hits were the most a Giants player has ever hit in the month of May. The player whose May mark he passed was named Willie Mays. He was not a bad player.

Getty Images
Getty Images

He leads the league with six triples, as he has shown that he has the perfect combination of gap power and speed to be effective in AT&T Park. He is fifth in the league for on-base percentage and 10th in slugging and OPS.

Will Melky finish the season with 230 hits or a .373 average or a .967 OPS? Probably not. But the Giants have struggled offensively every year, including their 2010 World Championship season.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Sanchez has struggled in Kansas City. He has not gone more than five innings in any of his six starts and is currently on the disabled list with tendinitis.

The fact that they may have plucked a potential batting champion in exchange for a fifth starter has to be one of the best deals of the offseason.

Of course, the Nationals may have acquired a Cy Young winner when they dealt for Gio Gonzalez. But that trade was a salary dump by Oakland, and Gonzalez was expected to be an impact.

Cabrera was expected to be a nice player, not a star. For general manager Brian Sabean, who has endured his share of bitterness from Giants fans, this must be a sweet feeling seeing the trade work out this well so far.

Just 70 percent of the season is left. As Yankee announcer John Sterling used to say about Melky, "The Melkman delivers. It's the Melky Way."

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