Who is the #1 Priority in 2014 – Cano or Granderson?
Since the signing of the new Collective bargaining Agreement, Yankee fans have been inundated with articles and talk about the team’s desire to get under the Luxury Tax threshold in 2014. Hal Steinbrenner & Brian Cashman have stated they have every intention to get under $189 Million in 2014 and that they can still field a Championship team. However to do so, the team won’t have the ability to re-sign all of their players when they become Free Agents and tough decisions will have to be made.
Those decisions will start after this season as Russell Martin and Nick Swisher hit Free Agency and will really get tough after the 2013 season. That is when Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain & Boone Logan will be looking for new contracts. With so many players reaching FA and so many different variables to consider it’s impossible to know what decisions will have to be made. However for the purpose of this article, let’s look at the 2 most important players – Cano & Granderson.
It’s certainly possible that both players can be retained if some of the young pitchers reach their potential and the Yanks refrain from any other high-priced signings. However, it could conceivably come down to a decision after 2013 of which important lefty masher they need most. If that’s the dilemma, who would you retain to be the leader of your offense going forward?
Cano, will be entering his age 31 season in 2014 and should be looking at plenty of still productive seasons remaining. By almost any metric used, Cano has clearly emerged as one of the Top 5 hitters in the American League over the last 3 years. Since 2009, he has hit .314/.361/.529 and averaged 27 HRs - 104 RBI – 103 Runs for a .378 woba. Despite an unflattering UZR, he is an excellent defensive 2B. His range is solid and his arm strength and ability to turn the double play are as good as anyone in MLB.
He is one of the most durable players in baseball having played more games over the last 5 years than anyone in MLB. The fact that he is finally moving into a premium slot in the order will boost his production since he’ll have more PAs, more opportunities to drive in runs and better protection with ARod & Tex hitting behind him as oppossed to Jorge Posada or Nick Swisher. Not to disparage those hitters but pitchers were not giving into Cano with Posada on deck.
The only weakness in Cano’s game is his plate discipline. He swings at too many pitches out of the strike zone and doesn’t like to take the base on balls. I like the fact that Cano is aggressive and goes up to the plate looking to get a hit rather than walk. The Yanks have enough patient hitters and need someone to go up their to drive the ball, however, Robbie needs to just lay off the pitch he can’t handle to raise his game up another notch.
Granderson is a full 2 years older than Cano so will turn 33 before the 2014 season. He’s hit .253/.339/.492 over the last 3 years while averaging 32 HRs - 85 RBIs – 101 Rs – 19 SBs. While those numbers are good, he’s been much better since August 2010 when Kevin Long helped him adjust his swing. Since then he has led MLB in HRs, RBIs & Runs as he has finally learned to hit LHP.
He’s not the most natural of players in CF but he has excellent agility and athleticism which enables him to make plays despite getting poor reads off the bat. His angles to the ball are also not good but he makes the plays he needs to and has a solid and accurate arm. Overall, he’s above average in CF and an excellent baserunner with the ability to steal 20-25 bases per yr.
Granderson’s weaknesses are obvious. He strikes out a ton (24.5% in 2011) which leads to a lower batting average in the .250-.265 range. His strikeouts are an odd thing. Early in his career he struck out often but lowered it to an acceptable 17.6% in 2008 but has seen it gradually rise every yr since then to 24.5% in 2011 when he whiffed 169 times. Obviously a little better contact would lead to a higher BA and hopefully it’s an area Curtis will improve on in 2012.
Well, we’ve covered the strengths and weakness of each player so who is more valuable? They are both dangerous left-handed hitters who play good defense at premium up-the-middle positions. I believe that Cano is the better overall player and is more important to the team’s future. He’s a perennial .300+ hitter with 25+ HR power – a combination that is becoming rarer and rarer in today’s game. He’s a full 2 yrs younger than Grandy and plays a position where his offense is head and shoulders above the pack. Granderson’s numbers are impressive also but since the Yankees can slide Gardner to CF, they can afford to choose from any OF position to replace Granderson’s production. Finding someone younger than Curtis may be the way to go rather than invest in a probable 5 year deal for a 33-yr old OF.
The Yanks may be able to keep them both if they are willing to sign Granderson into his mid to late 30′s but that’s not an advisable strategy. Depending on how you crunch the numbers,it seems the Yanks will have somewhere in the neighborhood of $60Million in 2014 to spend on a starter at C, 2B, 3B/DH, SP & 2 OF spots. The more of those spots that can be filled with low-priced young players from the farm the better. That will allow Cashman to sign Cano to a$20-22M per year mega-deal and have enough left to sign at least 1 more high-priced veteran. IMO, it all starts with Cano though. He’s one player the Yanks cannot let be a casualty to the $189M obsession.
Posted on March 9, 2012, in Personal Opinion, Player Analysis, Signing & Trade Speculation, Statistical Analysis and tagged Brian Cashman, Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano. Bookmark the permalink. 33 Comments.