Melky Cabrera or Michael Bourn? San Francisco Giants should Get Melky

National League’s Melky Cabrera, right, of the San Francisco Giants, celebrates his two-run home run with Matt Holliday, of the St. Louis Cardinals, during the fourth inning of the MLB All-Star baseball game, Tuesday, July 10, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Over the All-Star Break, the Giants were linked in stories with two potential free-agent outfielders — Melky Cabrera and Michael Bourn, currently of the Braves.

Jon Heyman reported that the Giants were viewed as a “likely suitor” for Bourn in free agency next winter, sources said.

Got to love those “sources” say, especially five months before free-agent season begins.

Yes, Bourn is a fine player, an All-Star. He’s led the NL in stolen bases the past two seasons. He fits the bill of the type of outfielder the Giants are looking for.

However, Bourn must be considered a fallback option if the Giants can re-sign Cabrera. They won’t be signing Bourn AND Cabrera. So if they have to choose, Cabrera is the better option.

Why?

  • Cabrera is younger. Melky will be entering his age-28 season in 2013. Bourn will be 30. And with speed being such a huge part of Bourn’s game, you’ll have to wonder what effect aging will have on his skills if the Giants sign him to a five-year contract, which he’ll likely be seeking.
  • Cabrera is a better all-around player. Melky’s 2012 slash line goes .353/.391/.519, compared to Bourn’s .311/.366/.451. Small sample, you say? OK, let’s look at 2011, when Cabrera went .305/.339/.470 and Bourn went .294/.363/.403. For their career, Cabrera is .283/.336/.411 in 8 seasons; Bourn is .277/.340/.370. And Bourn’s numbers have been steady over the past 3-4 years. Cabrera has taken off the past two seasons.
  • If you go out and sign Bourn, you’re basically saying that the No. 1 prospect in your organization is not going to develop into a big-league starter. That’s Gary Brown. Brown had an outstanding season in his first full pro season in 2011 at Class A. After a rough start at Double-A this season, Brown is starting to heat up. Wouldn’t it make better sense in a couple of years to have Brown in center and Melky in left, instead of having two leadoff/center fielders in your outfield?
  • Bourn has never been All-Star Game MVP.
  • Cabrera has started to create a cult following in the Giants’ fan base. He’s the kind of player the Giants can set up a marketing campaign behind.

So, while we have nothing against Michael Bourn, Melky Cabrera is the better player and the Giants need to make it a priority to keep him in San Francisco.

Cabrera told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that he likes it in San Francisco.

“Im a free agent next winter,” Cabrera told Shea, “but the fans and Giants organization have treated me very well, so I would welcome staying with the Giants.”

Shea added that Cabrera has told his representatives of let the Giants know about his wishes to stay with the team.

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