Giants' Melky Cabrera's lights-out numbers sting Kansas City Royals fans
Jun 01, 2012 (Contra Costa Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Melky Cabrera became the toast of San Francisco with his magical month of May.
The outfielder generates plenty of discussion in Kansas City too -- in a much different manner.
Many Royals fans watch Cabrera post MVP-caliber numbers for the Giants and wonder why he's not still doing it for their team.
"As far as Royals fans are concerned, it's an example of another great player the Royals let get away for nothing. I hear it on my show all the time," said Robert Ford, who hosts the pre- and postgame shows on 610 Sports Radio, the team's flagship station.
The Royals didn't come away empty-handed from that November trade that sent Cabrera to the Giants. They received left-hander Jonathan Sanchez and minor league pitcher Ryan Verdugo.
But Sanchez, 29, has spent the past three weeks on the disabled list with left biceps tendinitis. He posted a 6.75 ERA in six starts before going down.
The in-house candidate the Royals tapped to replace Cabrera in center field, Lorenzo Cain, has played in just five games because of groin and hip flexor injuries.
He's the National League's leading hitter at .373, and he broke Willie Mays' franchise record with 51 hits in May. The Royals will host the July 10 All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium, and Cabrera seems destined to be there -- wearing a Giants uniform.
"That's definitely going to rub a lot of fans the wrong way," Ford said. "Here's
a guy they could have held on to and didn't, and now he's a star in San Francisco."
When one team hits the jackpot on a trade, it leaves the other team scrambling to justify why it pulled the trigger. But Royals general manager Dayton Moore said he has no regrets on swinging the deal.
"It was based on payroll flexibility and the need to add a starter to our rotation," Moore said in a phone interview. "And with Lorenzo Cain needing an opportunity to play every day in center field, it was the most logical deal for us to make."
The Royals' $60.9 million payroll for 2012 ranks 27th out of 30 major league teams, according to USA Today.
They were budgeting salary room to sign left fielder Alex Gordon to a four-year, $37.5 million extension. Acquiring Sanchez for Cabrera was a virtual wash in salary -- Sanchez makes $5.6 million this season and Cabrera $6 million.
Both players are eligible for free agency after 2012, but it's believed the Royals had no shot to sign Cabrera, 27, to a long-term deal.
Though he hit .305 with 87 RBIs with Kansas City in 2011, Cabrera was a .267 hitter in six seasons before that. So he could have been viewed as a gamble to lock up anyway.
"In the Royals' defense, they got what the industry viewed as a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher (in Sanchez), which they needed," said a major league scout who requested anonymity. "I don't think you can condemn Kansas City for what they did."
But the Royals knew Sanchez came with red flags. He suffered from biceps tendinitis last season and made just 19 starts. High walk totals have always been a problem.
In a recent rehab start for Triple-A Omaha, Sanchez's fastball reportedly hovered in the high 80s, a problem he also encountered with the Giants.
"We traded away a .300 hitter with 200-plus hits for a junk heap pitcher that S.F. was probably going to cut bait with anyway," wrote one Royals fan in a scout.com chat forum. "How stupid can we possibly be?"
But Jeff Zimmerman, an editor for the Royals Review fan blog, said Kansas City's need for pitching justified trading Cabrera.
"I would still do the trade, and I think most people would, looking back on it," Zimmerman said. "Melky had a really tough time in center, and he's able to play the corners (for the Giants)."
Moore said he maintains a good relationship with Cabrera and hopes he winds up playing in the All-Star Game in Kansas City. How the Royals' fan base feels about that is quite another issue.
"From a P.R. standpoint, (the deal) has been an absolute disaster," Ford said. "But I still think the trade was one they needed to make."
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