"I hit the city and I lost my band.
I watched the needle take another man.
Gone, gone, the damage done."
With a little help from new friends
"The Needle and the Damage Done," Neil Young's heart-sinking ballad about heroin addiction, is quite the haunting, sobering tune.
It's also been applied in pun form to proven (and unproven) users of performance-enhancing drugs. Melky Cabrera has been the latest player "taken" by the stigma. Drafters far and wide have chastised his name since he was suspended and shut out of the San Francisco Giants' title picture. Users scare off baseball analysts because their system clean-out often leads to a downturn in production.
Cabrera, unfortunately for those detractors, landed in one of the ideal environments to combat the hangover from his 1.5-year rush.
The 28-year-old joins a stacked Toronto Blue Jays lineup, now complete with Jose Reyes on top of, in some order, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Brett Lawrie, Emilio Bonifacio, Colby Rasmus, Adam Lind and J.P. Arencibia. Whew, with Cabrera sitting at second or in the middle of this order - either way, it's a productive spot.
The personnel and hitting coach Dwayne Murphy's skills for reviving lumber wielders have contributed to it, but Rogers Centre, in a division familiar to Cabrera, is quite the homer haven. (That outfield sign-stealing stuff? Overrated factor.)
Cabrera's 11-homer showing in his abridged 2012 presents a fine baseline for a complete 2013. His AB/HR rate dropped from 36.6 in 2011 to 41.7 last year. Natural correction, fear of getting caught, biologically downward cycle - whatever it was, it led to that rectifying nudge, doing the job that needed to be done to properly value him in the first place.
That being said, there has to have been a natural power gain as he grew into a full-time player. This wasn't a complete light-switch flip. He had the build for it even back in his Pinstriped youth.
He's not going to be a 20-homer guy, but 15 as a ceiling would still give us the "peak" Melk Man.
There's a but....
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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