Going into the 2013 season there was a wide range of expectations for Melky Cabrera. The worst case scenario is that he would be suspended for 100 games as the rumors of the Biogenesis scandal were swirling furiously at that time. The best case was that while the PED’s may have helped Melky in someway he had really actually unlocked some new secret in his approach that would help him sustain his MVP like numbers he put up with the Giants before he was suspended. While those were the two extremes people were expecting something in between and hoping it was closer to the latter than the former. If Cabrera was able to perform at the level he had in Kansas city most people would have been happy. But either way he was seen as a short term potential upgrade in left field to compliment the bigger pieces brought in by “the trade.” In the very least he would be a stop gap until Anthony Gose or another outfield prospect was ready for the show and he would provided some lineup flexibility as a switch hitter.
Cabrera’s 2013 season was to say the least a let down. The Melkman started off
strong less weak than his teammates, and hit his offensive peak on May 29 with a triple slash line of .292/.339/.392. This looked pretty good for the seemingly dark early days of the season, which would later become the gentle beginning to the impending doom faced by the team throughout the rest of the year. But back when those first two months seemed like they were just a bad start getting that production from Cabrera was an unexpected positive. And while those aren’t exactly the type of power numbers you look for from a corner outfield spot it was definitely something I could have lived with if it had been sustainable. However at the point nagging injuries and looking painfully slow in the outfield were starting to become a factor which was largely blamed on past PED use and the joke of a rug covering the concrete that the Jays call their outfield grass. As the season wore on Melky saw some time at DH as well as a trip to the DL, he came back from the DL for a brief stint before returning to the DL and being shutdown for the season. Eventually it was learned that what had caused the injuries for Cabrera was a non cancerous tumor on his spine, which was removed and was essentially the last news involving Cabrera for the 2013 season.
Looking ahead to 2014 there are almost as many question marks surrounding Cabrera. Luckily there seem to be more potential positive outcomes than there were going into 2013. With the threat of suspension no longer present the biggest questions moving forward for Cabrera are health and performance. With the tumor removed from his spine the lingering injuries Cabrera dealt with are hopefully a thing of the past. This also should help his general conditioning as when he arrived at camp in 2013 he was looking much more Prince Fielder-esque than most were expecting/hoping. Another positive sign for the 2014 season is the impending signing of Kevin Seitzer as the team’s new hitting coach. As outlined by Andrew Stoeten at DJF Seitzer has not only seemingly been one of the more effective hitting coaches in the league, but was also the man on the job where Cabrera first found success with the Royals. While I would like to say it seems like things are primed for a good 2014 for Melky Cabrera, if we learned anything from 2013 it’s to temper our expectations.