Adios, Leche

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Goodbyes are never easy for me. As a matter of fact, I’m choking up as I write –
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Sorry. This is hard. So. Very. Hard.
The Yankees have traded the dimple-cheeked Melky Cabrera to the Brewers for Sabathia BFF Mike Cameron, which means that “The Melkman,” as he is affectionately known throughout the Yankees Universe, will deliver no longer. I’m not going to pretend that I was one of those people who loved Melky. I cared about him deeply, but I was not in love with him, if you know what I mean. He had his moments and I will try to memorialize them here, but he also had his faults. He didn’t hit very well. He slid into first base repeatedly even though he was told not to. And he often wore boxes of sunflower seeds on his head.
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Still, he was a Yankees farmhand who made it all the way to the big club, and I will miss him and the little dance he did to the delight of his teammates.
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It was Jeter who nicknamed him “Leche,” which is Spanish for milk, which is English for cow juice.
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Signed by the Yankees at age 17, the Dominican-born Melky made his major league debut on July 7th, 2005 in left field. He was incredibly excited, especially after A-Rod took him shopping and bought him his first designer suit.
ARod_Melky.jpgA mere week later, however, fate turned against him. During a game against the Red Sox at Fenway, he misplayed a fly ball hit by this man.
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A mortifying inside-the-park homer resulted, not to mention an even more mortifying 17-1 Yankees loss, and Melky was shuttled back to Triple A, then Double A. Very discouraging.
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In 2006, he was promoted again, this time making an outstanding leaping catch in yet another contest against Boston, robbing Manny of a homer
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and inspiring a fist-bump from Damon.
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The same year he not only had his first 5-RBI game and hit his first career grand slam, but also smacked his first walk-off homer, which gave the Yankees an 11th inning victory against the Mariners.
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Life was good for Leche. He celebrated the Yankees’ division title with his BFF Cano.
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The two lived in the same New Jersey high-rise building and frequently partied together…and went out for rice and beans together…and signed autographs together.
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In 2007, Melky took over the center field job from Damon and led the league in outfield assists. But in ’08, he was, well, bad. He was demoted to Triple A. The romance was over between the Yankees and Melky.
And now this trade. (Mike Cameron? Really, Cashman?) I won’t miss Melky’s tendency to hit nubbers in key situations. But I will miss the dimples. And the dancing. And the sense of whimsy and wonder.
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Oh, Leche. I wish you the very best in Milwaukee. It’ll be an adjustment for you, sure. You’ll be lost without Cano and you’ll be faced with weather like this.
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But you’ll be O.K. You’ll charm your way into the hearts of Brewers fans, you’ll see.
So. It’s time for that goodbye.
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Let us all bid you farewell, from every corner of the Yankees Universe.
Goodbye.
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Goodbye.
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Goodbye.
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30 comments

  1. marks8@optonline.net

    Well done Jane, it’s a reminder to future prospects of how expendable they are when they are no longer the flavor of the month. “Melky gives us energy”–Torre. Time flies.

    Mark/Baseball Hot Corner

  2. juliasrants

    Wow Jane. The Yankees seem to be the one team that is really active this off season. I guess the new “owners” of the Yankees really want a World Series win this year. I hope it all works out. Well, maybe not the World Series part!

    Julia
    http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

  3. Jane Heller

    Time does fly, Mark, and Melky did give us energy. He brought such a playful attitude to the team. If only he could PLAY.

    The Yankees have been active, Julia. We’ve had more holes to fill than the Red Sox, although I fully expect Theo to drop a bomb any day and announce…..We’ll see.

    I’m with you, Andrew. I feel about Cameron the way I felt about Swisher. Well, maybe not that bad.

  4. hseely@twcny.rr.com

    She-Fan,

    Now I know I have a heart… because it’s breaking.

    el duque

    P.S. Someday, we must ask ourselves why, why, why in a world of such magnificent joy and beauty… why a fine young man like Melky has to be sacrificed? Answer me that, President Levine! damm you! Throw some of your fancy perfumed words at that, Henry Steinbrenner! And maybe someday it will make sense.

  5. jimmy27nyy

    Hey, Jane …

    This trade makes no sense “at all” … Mike Cameron is “not” an improvement in centerfield; he adds nothing to the Yankees; and, is just an overpriced, 36 year-old outfielder, that we really can do without !!! … Also, I think the Yankees gave up on Melky way too soon … At least, the Yanks should have gotten back “some value” if they were so “set” on trading away Melky !!! … A year ago, the Yankees could have signed Cameron as a free-agent, and it would not have cost them trading any players in return … Swisher at first; and, Cameron / Gardner in center, are just not as solid, and productive, as Mark Teixeira at first; Bobby Abreu in right; and, Damon in center !!! … I just do not understand the approach Brian Cashman is taking in all these above moves !!! … Obviously, it’s all about the “money” !!! … Jimmy [27NYY]

    http://baseballtheyankeesandlife.mlblogs.com/

  6. jimmy27nyy

    Jane, “Congratulations” …

    On your #10 ranking on the “Top 100” MLBlogs Fan List, 2008 !!! … Keep up the excellent work, here on your mlblog !!! … I look forward to more of your great “posts” and “comments” in 2009 !!! ……… as well as, the “New York Yankees” winning their 27th World Championship, in ’09 !!! … Best Wishes, Jimmy [27NYY]

    http://baseballtheyankeesandlife.mlblogs.com/

  7. Jane Heller

    Ah, duque, you’re quoting the Tin Man from “The Wizard of Oz.” You know what gets me about that movie? When Dorothy is leaving Oz and says to the scarecrow, “I think I’m going to miss you most of all.” Talk about dissing the Tin Man and the Lion! But I digress. Yes, maybe someday the deal will make sense, somewhere over the rainbow.

    Jimmy, I feel your rant. And I share it. Maybe both Cameron and Swisher will have great years and we’ll be eating crow. Or maybe Cashman has lost his mind. As for MLB Blogs, I always look forward to your posts and comments. So keep them coming!

    Melky was a fan favorite, darion, especially when he first came up from the minors. He brought a lot of youthful vitality to an otherwise staid club. But his skills seemed to regress and he fell out of favor. Sad. Sniff.

    Nice plug for the pupi blog, Mark!

  8. hseely@twcny.rr.com

    She-Fan,

    The Strawman wasn’t entirely made of straw, if you know what I mean. And I’m not referring to Darryl.

    el duque

  9. Jane Heller

    Still, duque, Dorothy was being mean when she said that, even if the scarecrow was the straw that stirred the drink.

    Leche got cuter the longer I looked at those pictures, Kylie. I kind of fell in love with him as I was writing the post. And now he’s probably gone. SOB.

    Me? Sarcastic? Oh, Jeff. No! Absolutely not!

  10. Jane Heller

    Holy crap is right. I’ve been away from the computer for a few hours and look what happens behind my back! Burnett better not spend those five years on the DL!

  11. King_of_New_York

    Melky just had one bad year, the same as Robbie Cano. The Yankees should have kept Melky and their outfield of the future would be:
    LF: Brett Gardner
    CF: Austin Jackson
    RF: Melky Cabrera.
    Melky was great in the field and had an amazing arm.

    –http://bronx-awesome.mlblogs.com/
    (King Yankees)

  12. Jane Heller

    Supposedly the deal hasn’t been finalized, Babu, so maybe I jumped the gun. But I bet it happens. I would have been more than happy to give Gardner a try in CF. And you’re right about Melky’s arm. But if you keep them both, where do you put Damon? We already have Matsui DH-ing.

  13. King_of_New_York

    This year, Melky can play in Triple-A to rebound from his bad 2008. After the 2009 season, when Matsui, Damon, and Nady’s contracts expire, that outfield can play. But, Matt Holliday is also a free agent then.

  14. Jane Heller

    Hey, V. So good to have you back on the blogs. It’s true that Melky hasn’t officially been sent packing. Maybe the deal for Cameron will fall through. Even so, I have a feeling he’s gone – along with the memory of that catch on Manny’s would-be HR.

  15. Jane Heller

    With the money spent on CC and AJ, maybe there won’t be enough to pick up Cameron’s tab, Bern. I might have to write an update on this post saying, “Never mind.”

  16. Jane Heller

    That’s what I wrote in the previous comment, Neal! I may very well end up adding a P.S. that says, “I was wrong. Melky’s staying – for now.” Just goes to show I shouldn’t believe everything I read on the blogs!

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