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.
Cairo has been an Iron Pig for awhile now.
In this game on July 2, he helped AAA Lehigh Valley (Phillies) beat Syracuse 5-1. www.lehighvalleylive.com
Ouch, that’s a reach. But despite a pre-season corking with stories to blog about, it’s Miggy Cairo’s minor-league signing by Philly that has drawn me back to the keyboard. I used to go to Shea to cheer for him ’til the Yanks brought him back. When he’s at bat at CitiField, Met fans won’t boo him now, will they?
Thanks to this afternoon’s ESPN Radio announcement and MLB Trade Rumors for the news.
Miguel Cairo, who was released last week to make room for the newbies, has been picked up by the Cardinals. He is reporting to AAA Memphis, according to Sports Illustrated.
We will miss him. This may come back to bite us, too. A more loyal, willing player does not exist. Bad karma.
Miggy, I am sorry. At least you are on a good team. Did you like them the first time ’round?
LOST: One first baseman
Josh Phelps was picked up on waivers by the Pirates.
FOUND: One first baseman
Miguel Cairo is finally playing regularly.
Well, we should be fair. The Mets and Cardinals opened the Season. But today is the Yankees’ opener, and PAVANO is starting. Our year will be um interesting! I am hopeful of course yet I sense some inanity in our roster. Perhaps Miguel Cairo will learn a new position or two. I close this brief entry with the last 2 paragraphs of George King’s article in today’s New York POST:
A 61-64 career pitcher, Pavano signed a four-year, $40 million dealafter the 2004 season and has pitched in 17 games (4-6; 4.77 ERA) for
"He has the ability to certainly have the fans
embrace him," Torre said. "He is a good guy. I know some bad things
have happened around him and probably he is responsible for most of
them. But hopefully, with the understanding that the priority is
baseball, I think he is in a pretty good place right now. He has to go
out and pitch. If he stays healthy, I am very confident he will do
PLAY BALL!! Let’s go Yankees!
Tucked-in among our losses of last year was a listlessness of my own — that is, if you can swallow my self-importance with enough ease to accept calling absence of one’s own spirit a loss. By losses I mean more than the Yankee Season of course, Corey Lidle coming right to mind, and the sabremetric blow to baseball that figured anyone to be Most Valuable Player of our league but Derek Jeter. I was at that last game, when he gave up his place in the line-up to no announcement, much was wrong, measure for measure, and far more.
Imagine if after all we had brought-in Mark Loretta to replace Miguel Cairo in the off- season.* [See below!] I have great news to repeat. Today’s New York Post is unofficially reporting a 1-year, $750,000 deal in the works. Thank you to MLB.com’s Brian Hoch for updating us.
- *To anyone wondering how I can argue for Cairo (.239, 0 HR, 30 RBI, 13 SB, only 81 games [injured]in 2006) over Loretta (.285, 5HR, 59 RBI, 4 SB, 155 games in 2006) Loretta, who is now with the Astros, has some good numbers and brings a lot to the field, but as you will read
elsewhere in this blog, I feel a loyalty to Cairo, whose bottomless
energy, effort, enthusiasm, and magic timing carried us far during our
disabled last year, as well as in his prior trek with us. I’ll have to look up the stats, but he actually performs better under pressure! Also, he
never stops improving, physically and mentally. Gaining strength enough to hit for doubles
last year was a big deal, I think. As announcer
John Sterling always says, "Miggy is the best .[fill-in-the-blank]
player in baseball." His average belies what he makes happen on the
field. Miggy is a Yankee.
Roger Brown of the Cleveland Plain Dealer notes that a "prominent National League Scout" has ranked our Miguel Cairo toward the top of his list of 2nd-tier 2nd basemen. (Does working part-time default a player to 2nd-tier? It should justify any low numbers) Thank you for calling attention to him, Mr. Prominent Scout, though I am sure you meant this as a recommendation for an Indians’ pick-up (…though I thought you were a National League scout.) It’s a heads-up for us. When the Yankees’ front office evaluates our roster over this winter, I hope everyone remembers Cairo as our turnkey 2nd baseman and utility player, especially when we were trying to scratch our way out of 2nd place and then to secure 1st.
Forget postseason for a minute. I think that was the most critical period for the Yankees this year. Without Cairo, I am not sure how the period would have played out. Who was on the team? Can YOU name them? Exactly my point. Cairo went from DH to 2nd base when Cano got hurt (hamstring), and minor leaguers and trades covered all the other positions, except for Shortstop (Jeter–great year), Catcher (Posada–great year) and a few Pitchers. How does a team win with players you have never practiced with, who change often daiy? (Torre–manager–great year) The substitute players kept changing, but not Cairo.
Cairo makes things happen offensively in the least promising of circumstances. Make-It-Happen-Miggy could well be his nickname. He hits, bunts, steals aggressively, all in the CLUTCH. In fact, his numbers are better under clutch conditions. In 2006, this is how his average broke down:
- season- .239
- bases empty- .197
- runners on base- .286
- runners in scoring position (risp)- .328
- bases loaded- .375
- In OCTOBER- .500
- Inexplicably, Cairo was given only 2 at-bats in the post-season.
This man could light a fire rubbing two soaked twigs against each other in the rain. Why we didn’t let him ignite the playoff squad against the Tigers is not the topic for this piece. At least we didn’t lose him with the Series. I HOPE we don’t lose him with the Series.
I paraphrase WCBS announcer John Sterling:
He’s the best .239 hitter you”ll ever see.
Stay, Miggy, Stay! Let Cairo Stay! Please!