Eric Bruntlett, no. Miguel Cairo, yes. Sophie’s choice, maybe. But I always saw it as telling that as a Yankee, Cairo wore #14, same as his fellow-Venezuelan and off-the-cuff World Series hero Luis Sojo, though I do not know if Sojo was his inspiration.
What I do know is that Cairo has a knack for -here comes the cliche- making things happen when it matters. I have seen it over and over. To those concerned that he spent most of the season in the minors and batted only .267 in 45 at-bats in the majors this year, I reiterate: Miggy’s heroics are seldom represented in his average. In 2006, Yankees’ WCBS Radio broadcaster John Sterling was fond of waxing that he was the best .239 hitter in the game. He will get on base, he will run, and he will score. He will also make some great defensive plays as a utility infielder, now playing shortstop for the Phillies.
This year, though, Cairo has strengthened his numbers and his power. According to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, he has been batting .357 since August 29, getting hot when it matters most and hitting harder, with 2 doubles, a triple, and his first HR since 2005. As a AAA Iron Pig, he hit .287 in 296 at-bats with some key runs. Although his on-base percentage has not been in the gaudy upper 300’s for several years, it is his timing that has always impressed me. Clutch-performances, especially when they are walks, may be hard to quantify and impossible to depend on. Still, except at Yankee Stadium, where perhaps the tugs of rejection will sting, I would bet on him. Heck, why not at the Stadium too. The Yanks do not typically bring a player back twice, but if the Phillies play there in the Series, the audition may be as important for him as the Series itself. No, I am not confusing him with Ramiro Mendoza, who wanted to die a Yankee. But Miggy, like Mendoza, IS a Yankee, whatever the uniform.