The irreplaceable Cano

May, 18, 2013
5/18/13
5:35
PM ET
Robinson CanoAP Photo/Kathy KmonicekCan Robinson Cano be replaced? Not according to his manager.
With Hal Steinbrenner on hand for the Robinson Cano Show, No. 24 moved into a tie for the American League home run lead. When a reporter asked if Cano was putting on a display for the owner, Cano laughed and talked about just trying to win games.

Cano is going to let his bat do his negotiating, not his mouth. But his manager gave him a pretty good endorsement after the 7-2 win over the Blue Jays.

Joe Girardi has watched the Yankees win without Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and many others, but the one guy that you can't just pull a replacement for off the street and still be fighting for the best record in baseball is Cano.

"Robbie is so important to us," Girardi said. "Offensively, defensively, his presence in the lineup, he is not someone you can replace."

Nope, you can't replace him now or the next five years. Steinbrenner understandably is worried about any contract that goes six to eight years, but fully realizes the cost of doing business might necessitate giving a contract a little longer than the owner is comfortable doling out.

Cano is stepping up to the free-agent challenge, if he has to go that way. With all the injuries and age, it was clear this is Cano's team. That means he is the guy that needed to lead on the field with so many parts missing. The Yankees have had many incredible contributions from the Lyle Overbays of the world, but Cano is the rock.

He leads the Yankees in average (.295), home runs (12), RBIs (31) and doubles (11). When he is hitting like he has thus far, he is hard to defend consistently.

"I think his ability to hit the ball to all fields allows him to be successful and you are not going to see very many prolonged slumps from him, just because he can hit a ball out to left," Girardi said. "He can hit line drives to left if they want to shift him, he'll hit ground balls where the shortstop would normally be. He'll pull balls. He is just a really good hitter, who uses the whole field."
Andrew Marchand is a senior writer for ESPNNewYork. He also regularly contributes to SportsCenter, Baseball Tonight, ESPNews, ESPN New York 98.7 FM and ESPN Radio. He joined ESPN in 2007 after nine years at the New York Post. Follow Andrew on Twitter »

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TEAM LEADERS

WINS LEADER
Masahiro Tanaka
WINS ERA SO IP
13 2.77 141 136
OTHER LEADERS
BAJ. Ellsbury .271
HRB. McCann 23
RBIB. McCann 75
RB. Gardner 87
OPSB. Gardner .749
ERAH. Kuroda 3.71
SOH. Kuroda 146