Is handicapping the payroll again worth keeping Cano?

robinson-cano2Amazingly, the Yankees are nearing the halfway point in the season. Yes, the All-Star break is next month, but their 81st game of the campaign will be played at the beginning of next week.

The team is in an unusual situation to say the least. Though only trailing the Red Sox by one game in the loss column, the Yanks have struggled mightily over the past few weeks. Since the Subway Series when they were swept aside by the Mets, there hasn’t been any showing of the hope and promise that the year once had back in April.

Sure, no one could have foreseen Curtis Granderson, Kevin Youkilis, and Mark Teixeira all going back on the disabled list days after they came off of it, but the fact remains the offense is anemic, only recently beginning to score north of a couple runs a game.

Brett Gardner has been the one keeping the lineup from turning Astro-nomically bad, currently hitting .285 with 28 RBI and 42 runs scored. That may surprise you since the Yankees have an even better hitter playing everyday in second baseman Robinson Cano, but to say he has had a good season [considering his pure talent and expectations of having a big contract year] would be wrong.

Robbie got off to a torrid start in April, hitting .327. Since then, he has hit .257 in May and .229 so far in June, failing to come up with the big hits when needed. He’s been seen swinging out of his shoes on some occasions, striking out and swinging at pitches that no .300 career hitter would.

The argument certainly can be made that with the replacement-level players that surround Cano in the lineup, he is not getting any good pitches to hit. I mean, who in their right mind would pitch to him when you have Lyle Overbay or Thomas Neal on deck? But at some point, Cano has to make the adjustment to focus on making contact with the ball and getting on base, rather than smashing a game-winning home run. With the superstar status he’s gained over the past few seasons along with the pressure he must be under to perform every night, it’s understandable, but ultimately unacceptable.

That’s why it concerns me when the Yankees seem willing to hand out a lucrative long-term contract to this guy. Right now they are far apart on negotiations, but all signs point to Robbie eventually inking a deal worth at least $150 million over six, seven, eight or even more years. And to see the way he’s performed this year when for the first time he truly is the sole bright spot in the lineup, it’s concerning.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely think Robinson Cano is a top-five MLB player when he is playing up to his potential. He’s certainly the best second baseman in the game and will be for a while. Unlike other pessimists, it’s not necessarily how he’ll age that worries me, it’s the rest of the Yankees that Cano will play with for the duration of his deal.

If you’re still living in the fantasy world that Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira, and Granderson will come back strong later this year and lead the charge to a 28th world championship, it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee. I am an optimistic, but realistic fan, and right now the chances that those four come back and provide so much production so that teams will wind up giving Robbie pitches to hit are rather slim. Cano is the most feared hitter in any Yankee lineup that can be conjured up using the 40 man roster, and we saw how the short returns of Tex, Youk, and Grandy resulted in disrupting the chemistry and production that was once consistently evident in the offense.

Robinson+Cano+Detroit+Tigers+v+New+York+Yankees+783bvcpDTPKlWhich brings me to another point – what will the Yankees lineup look like for the next five years? As frustrating as it’s been to watch the team this season, it may become the norm to see guys who really should be part time minor leaguers, be in the lineup every night in the Show. It seems like Jeet and Alex’s careers are hanging on by a thread, Granderson is almost surely to be lost this offseason, and who knows if Tex can ever be the 30-home run, 100 RBI guy he was penciled in to be throughout the duration of his own albatross of a contract. That leaves way too many holes on the roster for the Yanks to really focus on paying just one solid ballplayer.

It reminds me of a question probably asked when the Texas Rangers were debating to trade Alex Rodriguez – “Are we a better team with [Cano] than without him?” It can be argued that the Yankees really won’t be if they re-sign him. Sure, they may win a few more games, and the new Yankee Stadium will look just a little more full every night, but is that really worth once again limiting your ability to address other areas of the team?

Now I know many of the young, budding MLB superstars have been or will be locked-up by their current teams before they ever hit free agency. But remember, the Yanks’ current top prospects such as Gary Sanchez and Mason Williams, and recent draft picks like Aaron Judge and Eric Jagielo are years away from becoming everyday contributors in the Major Leagues. So, where does that leave the team in its search for new “Bronx Bombers”?

Personally, I see it as a dead end.

The Yankees can never be considered a “rebuilding” team. Their fanbase is too widespread and hungry for success for them ever to accept a year when they weren’t striving for a World Series title. And although letting Robinson Cano walk after this season would at first feel like an apocalyptic decision, it may ultimately result in a brighter future for a Yankee dynasty to re-surface.

The first few years may be very tough to swallow, but letting the fading stars play out their deals and starting fresh may just be a recipe for greater success down the road. If Cano is playing like a Hall-of-Famer and making $20 million a season, but has no support from his teammates to actually win anything, what’s the point? Higher TV ratings on YES? Higher attendance ratings?

Maybe, but that’s not what Yankee fans care about. It’s about championships at the end of the day, and once again giving another bloated contract to a player who will be done with his “prime years” very soon, would be arguably a move pushing the Yankees even farther away from a return to glory.

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About Brian D.

A passionate 15-year old Yankees fan who has hopes of becoming an MLB journalist or broadcaster. He brings an optimistic, yet realistic take on the Yanks to Yankees Fans Unite, and essentially lives and breathes baseball.

Posted on June 25, 2013, in Analysis, Personal Opinion, Rants, Signing & Trade Speculation and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Alright Brian, I always knew you had the talent to learn and think for yourself! :)

    • I thought I was in precious articles I wrote, but, uh, thanks!

      • Brian…
        I caught that line.
        I was giving you a compliment but, I now see you don’t need any encouragement!
        Keep up the good work, anyhow!

        • Thanks, haha no I get it.

          • BRIAN D…..are you wearing Joba’s hat, in your Gravatar?
            How are you? It’s been a long time.
            Are you still a card carrying member of the BBB? ( Block-Buster Brotherhood of NY ) I say, yes.
            The brotherhood’s time is now. Don’t you think? Take care.

            • I am normally not a flat brim guy, but that hat is literally unbendable. Oiy.

              Yes, it has been a while, but I’m confident I’ll be here often now. I’ve written a few articles over the past few weeks and I’m gonna be writing more!

              And yes, the BBB will ride together again. Now is the time, if there ever was one.

  2. Just because it is raining and I can’t get out in the rain because I am so sweet I’ll melt….
    I love to read comments from fans on the Yankees Yahoo pages, it shows me how little most fans know of the Old Timers!
    The difference between them and A-Rod is much less than it is with them and Jeter…but, only because of the difference between Jeter and A-Rod themselves.
    Jeter and A-Rod will do whatever it takes in a game to win, same as Old Timers the big thing is, Jeter would never think of doing things that are called Cheating by others but, are really a part of the game and always has been.
    I commend Jeter and the way he was raised by his wonderful mom and pop but, doing the wrong thing when the public can see it, is just not in his nature!
    Now A-Rod, he is a throwback to the old guys like Yogi, Mickey, Joe D and many others that have played before them, almost all of whom were cheaters..! Yes, Whitey Ford doctored the ball with the help of Yogi. Others took pills, had shots from doctors, you name it
    As for rounding 3rd base and saying “yah” or whatever, or crossing the pitcher’s mound, or any of and most of the things done by A-Rod over the years are nothing more than real hard-nosed baseball, it is called…get the edge!
    If you don’t get caught, you ain’t cheating. Also, if it ain’t in the book it ain’t a rule!
    Yes, A-Rod tried Roids while in Texas but, they didn’t seem to help him that much…99% of HR hitters playing in Texas, saw their numbers go up…the ball flies out of there.
    You see, I saw those HoF players and I saw them play tough baseball because, they didn’t make much money at all and the WS money, was their raise.
    There are many things about the old timers not known by you fans, Joe D was not a very nice guy at all, players respected him but that is it. It is said by a player that wrote a book…Mickey M was drunk all the time…not so at all. There is not one man in the world that could play Baseball drunk all the time so, get real, because one guy takes a shot. Fans believe it…”Gee, if it wasn’t true, they wouldn’t print it, right…try YES they would!

  3. Brian, good article, I agree with you to a certain extent. Fans have to realize that their team is not always going to be the best. The changes in the CBA has hindered the Yanks moving forward along with the long term contracts. I won’t be easy for the Yanks to field a championship team moving forward, but it is possible. As most people, I am on the fence with Cano moving forward. I think it can work either way, but losing you best player to free agency is not in the Yanks DNA. I always say pitching wins, and this team has remained in contention by pitching well, that is where the team needs to focus moving forward.

    • doug…
      Not that I disagree with the pitching thing (because I don’t) but, There are three main parts to a baseball game…Stop the others from scoring, stop the others from hitting and score more points than they do…we win!
      To be a winning team, one must have a good balance between; pitching, defence and hitting! Many teams have tried to win the WS with one part or another even two parts sometimes.
      Pitching is where everything starts so, Pitching is only as good as the players behind it (more often than not), one must score to win! Last and sometimes most overlooked by many is defence!
      Good Pitching HELPS win games no more no less than the other two but, the better one part of the three is the less we need depend on the other two….maybe you can write it better and with much less trimmings, I hope! :)

      • old yankee, totally agree with you, the Yanks as constituted can’t score enough runs to win. You need to average at least 5 runs a game to be a championship team. The last 10 years the Yanks were averaging over 6 per game, this year only 3 and change. My point to Brain’s article was that the Yanks can stay competitive with good pitching first and for most and then improve there position players. Although that is there biggest problem with long term contracts and big salaries, the pitching will keep them in the hunt.

  4. GOOD EVENING…MLB’s rumor of Ian Stewart going to the Yankees…Huh?
    Anyone look at his numbers? That one is dumb.
    The Phillies rumor of catcher Rios, and the Yankees…..more like it.
    4 games out tonight. They reach 8-10 out, they can’t come back.
    Someone should be held responsable.

  5. patrick…
    Don’t be so reticent about it, we all know the culprits! The names have changed (a bit) but, the story’s’ always the same, although for different reasons.
    The King and his court, Randy and the others from the cabal in Tampa, used the farm as trading blocks…destroying the farm at the same time.
    Now it is Hal/Hank along with the same….Tampa Cabal!

    Both, King George and Hal/Hank have something in common and one huge difference…care to guess?
    George LOVED the Yankees and thought stars were the best way to win!
    The brothers are destroying the Yankees by not allowing his people to do their jobs without interference. Along with money restrictions on INFA draft etc!

    Hal/Hank and the rest of the family and hanger-ons are the reason…is there a doubt of this? :(

    • RETICENT…I like that.
      51/2 games out, and approaching the kill zone.
      To fall a few more games behind, as composed,…..it’s over.
      Kenneth, hope this finds you well.

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