The Melky Cabrera looks like a pretty smart pick up for the San Francisco Giants -- at least so far.
Way back in November, the Giants made their big, offensive move of the 2012 offseason, acquiring Melky Cabrera from the Royals for Jonathan Sanchez. Right now, that deal looks like a freaking steal.
It didn't always look like a steal, however: as I noted when the trade went down, the reaction to the trade was primarily of the belief that the Giants got ripped off. Of course, I also noted that perception was wrong (yes, that loud noise is my own horn; I'm tooting the mess out of it):
"But that perception might actually be wrong -- Cabrera had a sneakily good season last year, hitting 18 home runs, knocking in 87 RBI, batting .305 and posting a 2.9 WAR," The Cove wrote at the time. "Meanwhile Sanchez, a 28-year-old lefty with worlds of potential, pitched just 101.1 innings in 2011 and posted a 4.26 ERA while struggling with injuries much of the season."
The Sanchez for Cabrera deal now, well, it's laughable, at least through 34 games of the 2012 season. Ignore the records of the two teams -- the Royals are 13-20 and the Giants are 17-17 -- and instead focus on what the two players are doing.
Cabrera is amid one of the hottest streaks in baseball and he's one of just 25 players in baseball who's produced more than 1.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) this early in the season. Melky's getting on base at nearly a 40 percent clip, he has two homers, four triples and eight doubles (don't discount the extra-base hit factor in AT&T), he's stolen five bases and he's been one of the most pleasant surprises on the Giants 34 games in.
Sanchez has been an afterthought in KC, going 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA and a 1.86 (!) WHIP, walking nearly a batter (22) per inning pitched (25.1). His walks-per-nine-innings rate (7.8) is higher than his strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate (6.4). Yes, that means he has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of less than one, and he's one of only five starters in the big leagues (with at least five starts) to sport that sort of number. His ERA+ is 62.
It might be worth noting that the Royals give up 4.76 runs per game to opponents and therefore are in desperate need of pitching, but their 4.03 runs scored per game is still below league average. So they could use Melky's bat this year (even if they thought they wouldn't) and if they'd held onto him, KC would clearly be able to get more in return for the outfielder right now.
It's definitely worth noting that it's still early, too: Melky could go stone cold the rest of the season or suffer an injury or forget how to run or swing a bat or something. And Sanchez could go on a tear and remember how to throw the ball over the plate or something. But neither of those seems entirely likely, and at least not possible, so right now, it's pretty easy to give the Melky-Sanchez nod to the Giants in a big, big way.