Saturday, February 2, 2013
Countdown: 10 days to spring training
By Wallace Matthews
We're almost into the single-digits now until the long-awaited day -- Feb. 12, the day pitchers and catchers report to spring training -- and each day between now and then, Andrew Marchand, Mark Simon and myself will present a list dealing with a specific issue facing the Yankees this season. Today: is this Robbie Cano's last spring in Tampa?
FIVE REASONS WHY ROBINSON CANO WILL BE A YANKEE IN 2014
1. THE YANKEES NEED HIM
Duh. But not just on the field, where despite his apparent nonchalance, his glove is the best one in their infield, or in their lineup, in which everyone agrees he is their most dangerous bat. They need him in their clubhouse, where he is a great mentor to their young players, and let's face it, with Alex Rodriguez pretty much done and Derek Jeter nearing the inevitable end of his run, the next generation Yankee team is going to have to be built around someone. Who better than Cano to be the next face of the franchise?
2. THIS IS WHAT THE WINTER OF AUSTERITY WAS ALL ABOUT
That's my reading of the situation, anyway. Aside from the edict by Hal Steinbrenner to cut payroll to $189 million in 2014, to save the Yankees millions in luxury tax and revenue sharing, it seems pretty obvious why the Yankees avoided any long-term deals this winter, except the two years they gave Ichiro Suzuki: They were marshalling their resources to make sure they could hold onto Cano when he becomes a free agent after this season.
3. IF NOT CANO, THEN WHO?
Sure, no player is irreplaceable, but there aren't too many out there who can hit for average and power while playing second base as effortlessly as Cano does. And if there are, not too many teams are going to let them get away. Yes, the Yankees could let Cano walk -- and plug in Eduardo Nunez or Jayson Nix. And watch thousands of season-ticket holders start going to Brooklyn Nets games instead.
4. SCOTT BORAS WILL OUTDO HIMSELF NEXT WINTER
As much as Boras paid public lip service to the hope that the Yankees might extend Cano before his contract ran out, you know the super-agent is loving the run-up to this winter. The "prospectuses" he put together to sell A-Rod to the Texas Rangers 12 years ago and Albert Pujols to the Angels last year will look like leaflets compared to the Manhattan phone book-sized tome he and his elves are cobbling together to sell Cano.
A few months ago, Boras gave me a sneak preview of his sales pitch, which went something like this: "Robinson Cano is comparable to Rogers Hornsby at the same point of their careers." Never mind that Hornsby had won six straight batting titles and one MVP and batted over .400 three times before his 30th birthday while Cano hasn't accomplished any of those things yet. At least they both play second base. And someone in the Yankees organization is guaranteed to find Boras' pitch impossible to lay off.
5. EVEN IF HE'S NO HORNSBY, CANO LOOKS BOUND FOR COOPERSTOWN
A lot of things have to happen between now and his induction speech, of course, not the least of which is a true fulfilling of his vast potential, but Cano is the kind of player teams like the Yankees don't allow to get away. The Marlins or Rays or Royals, yeah, but not a team with a regional network that rakes in more than enough to pay Cano for the next 10 years. Cry poverty all you like, but if the Yankees can't afford to hold onto a guy like Cano, who can?
QUESTION: What does your gut tell you? Is Cano a Yankee next year or not?