Saturday, June 29, 2013

Another Look At Robinson Cano's Future In Pinstripes

A lot of things get said in the "heat of the moment." No matter how good a player has been, when they fail there's bound to be at least one person that says that player sucks. Luckily, when things cool down, the vast majority of those people realize they were being silly and move on. Although there are definitely other players that could fit into that discussion, the one I'm thinking about here is Robinson Cano.

"Who said I suck?"

I'm still on the side that says the Yankees should re-sign Robbie, albeit to a contract of 6 or 7 years rather than the 9 and 10 year deals that Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols recently signed. I could live with the Yanks giving Robbie an 8 year deal, but I wouldn't like it. And yes, I do realize that things could get rough on the backside of such a contract, but that's the way things are in today's game. To get an elite player teams have to make sacrifices. It's a matter of whether those sacrifices are worth it to them.

And remember that even in the last four years of Cano's contract, should he sign an 8 year deal, the Yankees will not have Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter and CC Sabathia making a combined $92.125 million a season. I don't mean to say New York won't have any other big contracts to work around, but if they are to spend that much on a player (and you know they not only will, but they can) then it should be on somebody they can build around. And a perennial MVP contender, who plays a premium position such as second base, definitely fits that definition of "somebody".

I realize that Robbie is not having a great year. A batting line of .281/.361/.492 doesn't make you think the guy deserves a contract approaching $200 million. But you can't forget the .311/.370/.539 line, while averaging 30 home runs, that Cano put up in the previous three seasons. Or the three straight All Star appearances he made between 2010 and 2012. The four Silver Slugger awards. The two Gold Glove awards. And finally there are the many American League Most Valuable Player award votes he received throughout his career.

"What do you think of that?"

People like to say that elite players don't need lineup protection. That they are guys that can carry offenses all by themselves. First of all, that's silly. During a normal baseball game a team will get between 40 and 45 plate appearances. A single player will have 4 or 5 of them. So unless that single player is hitting 3 or 4 home runs a game, there's no way they can carry their team's offense. And as for players like Fielder and Pujols, who got those 9 and 10 year contracts, it's not as if they had nobody around them in the lineup.

While Prince Fielder was hitting to an OPS+ of 164 with the 2011 Milwaukee Brewers (the season before getting that fat contract with the Tigers), he had guys like Ryan Braun (OPS+ of 166), Corey Hart (OPS+ of 133), Rickie Weeks (OPS+ of 121), and Nyjer Morgan (OPS+ of 111) around him. The season before Albert Pujols signed that 10 year deal with the Angels, when his OPS+ was 148, he was in the Cardinals lineup surrounded by Lance Berkman (OPS+ of 164), Matt Holliday (OPS+ of 151), Yadier Molina (OPS+ of 124), David Freese (OPS+ of 118), Jon Jay (OPS+ of 112), and Colby Rasmus (OPS+ of 108).

In comparison, there are only two other Yankees in the lineup with Cano that are hitting to an OPS+ over 92... Brett Gardner at 116 and Travis Hafner at 106. There's a reason why Robbie's walk percentage this season is at a career-high 10.6% (up from a career-high mark of 8.8% last season), and it's not because he's a more disciplined hitter. Which any Yankee fan that watches most of the games can attest to.

So you'll have to forgive me if I either disregard or laugh at the "Cano is not that good" comments.

"Thanks for having my back."

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)