Relief is on the way.
"Melky has to fight for what he has," Cashman said. "I can't stand here and tell you he's going to be our center fielder moving forward. That's up to him."
"The game will tell you. That's the one great thing about all this - you can have your personal favorites but you can't fool the game," he said. "Right now Melky's got it. Brett's on the verge of being ready and Austin still needs some time to develop.
"In the end, I think we're going to have a great center fielder. It's just a question of who that is."
If Gardner can match his minor league numbers in the bigs (Melky has his percentages nearly dead-on) then Gardner will be the more valuable player in equal time. And since a good batting eye is not nearly as streaky as hitting, Gardner is better suited to a 4th outfielder role. Toss in Gardner's ability to run the bases (116 SB in 138 attempts) and it's clear who would be more valuable and who (via name recognition and the NY media bias) would be easier to move.
I'd suggest that this season will be Melky's high water mark for trade value. Frankly, I thought he'd be traded by now, but I underestimated teams' willingness to overpay for convicted PED users. But with those players now under contract, and the cream of next season's CF free agent crop Rocco Baldelli and Jim Edmunds... well, Mr. Cashman should get a few calls.
Melky will turn 24 in August and be under team control for at least 4 more seasons. He has the arm to play right and the experience to play center.
Have a good year, Melk.