Mark Melancon is Ready
Mark Melancon has generated quite the following as he makes his way through the minor league ranks. He’s thought of as Mariano Rivera’s successor, and if that wasn’t enough pressure, fans are wondering if Melancon, who recently came off of TJ surgery (he had the operation at the end of 2006, but it takes a while to regain what you had), will bridge the gap to Mariano this year.
What, you don’t trust Kyle Farnsworth?
If you didn’t know much about Melancon before, Tyler Kepner has a really fascinating read out about the young reliever. He interviews Melancon and from the get go, you can tell, this kid is simply oozing with confidence. Actually, when articulating the confidence he has in his abilities, he almost seems overconfident, which isn’t necessarily a good or a bad thing, but at least we know he’s ready to do some damage (at least mentally).
“I think I could be ready as soon as they want me,” Melancon said. Later, he added there was no reason to think a call-up was far away.
“If I pitch well and continue to do what I’m capable of doing, I don’t see why not,” Melancon said. “Why not? Why isn’t it close? I really do believe I am capable of doing what they’re doing, all those guys out there. So, yeah, I think it’s close.”
See what I mean? But, I guess, when you’re tabbed as the great Mariano Rivera’s successor, you’re going to need every bit of confidence you have in order to ride the wave and hang in there. One of the things everyone seems to rave about, actually, is this “confident” quality, although some of us like to refer to it as “makeup” (baseball jargon). You know, it’s the opposite of whatever Jeff Weaver and Kyle Farnsworth have (or had). It’s a mental and competitive edge that allows these guys to succeed in a big market like NY. Mark Newman, who oversees baseball operations for the Yanks, can’t get enough of Melancon’s “intangible” qualities, like his makeup. In fact, according to Kepner, that’s a big part of why they ultimately drafted him.
Newman said the Yankees took the gamble because Melancon rated highly in four intangible qualities — preparation, competitiveness, leadership and commitment to growth.
“We look for guys that are strong on all four counts, and he is,” Newman said. “It’s like Derek Jeter.”
Who are they going to compare him to next (..waits for Jesus reference)? Either way, the Yankees have a great closing prospect in their system (along with J.B. Cox) and he’s got a lot of tools (big fastball, changeup, curve). Now that Joba Chamberlain has opened the door for young prospects to shine in the Bronx, one has to wonder about Melancon’s chances for 2008. Will he be with the Yankees sooner, rather than later? No one has really ruled anything out yet, but I would think that they Yankees are willing to wait on Melancon and Cox a bit more (especially with TJ surgery).
It looks like the 8th inning is going to become a reliever free for all, with Farnsworth getting the ball until he blows enough games, then maybe Edwar will get a shot (sorry Chris Britton, we hardly knew ye). If the Yanks are really scuffling with that single inning then I would actually think that the Yanks will go after Brian Fuentes or Damaso Marte (trades). Fast tracking a reliever is probably a lot easier than what the Yanks did with Joba last year since he was a starter turned reliever (the process itself of undoing that has been difficult). But, these guys are still young and I’m sure the Yanks would prefer to let them see some more time in the minors before they get the call.
Of course, that doesn’t rule anything out…