Will Cano’s leadership in WBC help him with Yanks?
The Yankees get a welcome addition back to their lineup today in Robinson Cano. Cano is by FAR the team’s best position player and the team will need him more than ever this season with the weak lineup and all of the injuries. He’s coming off an incredible performance in the WBC where he was the leader of the Dominican team that dominated the tournament. More than his performance, he was also the leader of the team which has Kevin Kernan of the NY Post thinking Cano can and will step into the leadership void on the Yankees with the old Core winding down.
While Cano has always been extremley talented, he’s often thought of as aloof and not a hard worker because of his smooth style and lack of running out all ground balls. While it’s frustrating to me when Robbie dogs it to 1B on groundballs, I don’t buy for a second that he’s not a hard-worker. He has turned himself from an average prospect into an incredible and complete player who is one of the best in the Majors. His work ethic is praised and respected by his peers and many Dominicans have asked to join him in his daily off-season workouts with his father, Jose Cano in the Dominican Republic.
Colin Cowherd said on the Radio yesterday that Cano was trying harder in the WBC than he ever has for the Yankees. I don’t agree with that and think it’s more a matter of perception. The DR team was playing with emotion and exuberance and clearly wanted to win more than most other teams in the “exhibition” tourney. Their celebrations and style of play would be considered “bush” in MLB and by the old-school, corporate Yankees. I’m not a fan of the WBC although I did enjoy watching some of the games. You will never getplayers, especially American players, to go all-out in March before a 162-game MLB season – it just doesn’t make sense. But if Cano gained some self-confidence and blossomed a bit as a leader, than that is the best thing that came out of the event. With Mariano retiring, ARod hurt/banished? and Jeter possibly winding down, Robbie needs to step up both on the field and in the clubhouse. He’s asking for a massive amount of money and for the Yankees to commit to him for the next 7-8 years, so showing himself to be the new leader of the team will make it easier to make that committment.
Cano is going to have a lot on his shoulders with no protection behind him in the lineup for at least the first month. Last year, despite a career year, he hit just .268 with an .830 OPS with RISP. But pitchers pitched around him with RISP last year as evidenced by his whopping 16.9% Walk Rate as oppossed to just 6.1% with no one on base. And that was with Teixeira, ARod, Swisher & Granderson batting behind him. This year, with Hafner & Youkilis being the only legitimate bats behind him, expect him to get even less to hit. Cano needs to remain selective and drive in more runners for the Yankees to have success this year. Ironically, Cano said that to his Dominican teammates in the WBC according to the Post article.
“Cano has grown up so much,’’ said Dominican Republic manager and Yankees bench coach Tony Pena. “Not only has he grown as a player, but he has grown as a person. He feels like he needs to step forward and he has done that. Tonight he said to our hitters, ‘Guys, we’re swinging at a lot of pitches out of the strike zone. Let’s concentrate a little more; he will give us a pitch to hit.’ That means a lot and it worked tonight. Little things like this will make him a good leader.’’
Hopefully Cano, can practice what he preaches because they need a monster season from their star 2B.