The heart of the Yankees’ lineup and half of the dynamic duo that patrolled the middle of the infield had a face lift this off-season when Robinson Cano left town. The longtime Yankee fixture left the Bronx for the West Coast and mounds of more money than the Yankees were prepared to shell out for him. This coming Tuesday, he makes his long awaited return to the Bronx.
Upon rejecting the Yankees’ offer and signing the lucrative 10-year, $240 million deal in Seattle, several Yankees’ coaches (I’m looking at you specifically, Mr. Long) and the New York media quickly turned on Cano. There were talks of his laziness and inability to become a leader for this team. I personally never subscribed to that. I feel the Yankees had more holes to fill than just Cano and they needed to distribute the money evenly as opposed to going all-in on a unique talent. How has it paid off thus far?
The Yankees currently sit atop the AL East. The pieces they were able to bring in in-lieu of Cano leaving have been the primary reason. Jacoby Ellsbury has been everything and more at the top of the order, re-igniting the Yankees’ offense that was absolutely abysmal in 2013. He is currently batting.337 with 11 RBI, 13 runs scored, and 8 stolen bases showing that he can cause havoc in many different aspects of the game and create runs. Carlos Beltran already has one AL Player of the Week under his belt and is putting up a .296, 5 HR, and 13 RBI stat line. Brian McCann had a slow start, however, he is beginning to come around, hitting .257 with three home runs and 9 RBI. Of course, the real money that was well spent has been starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. When was the last time this guy lost and will he ever lose again? In loving memory of Phil Rizzuto, all I can say is, “Holy cow!” Tanaka has been lights out and has started his MLB career to a bedazzling 3-0 record with a 2.15 ERA and 35 strikeouts over four starts. The Yankees have certainly seen an early return on their investments.
The Mariners, on the other hand, are struggling. They currently sit at 8-13 and if it were not for their AL West cellar dweller rival Houston Astros, the Mariners would be the worst team in the American League. Cano is hitting a very pedestrian .280 with one home run and 8 RBI for the flailing Mariners. They don’t seem too concerned just yet, though.
He’s been very proactive in taking a leadership role in the clubhouse,” Mariners play-by-play man and SiriusXM host Dave Sims told the New York Post. “He’s been outstanding, great with the media, great in the field. He only has one home run, but consistently he is taking what they are giving him. He’s using the whole field, he hasn’t had too many opportunities to pull. He’s been a tremendous influence. He’s a veteran guy and the guys appreciate that he brings a lot to the table. He’s helped Justin Smoak tremendously handling the pitch on the inside corner. It’s been all good. It’s been all thumbs up.
When a team dishes out that much money, they want it to turn around their franchise, but it doesn’t always turn out that way. In 2001, the Mariners were the one on the outside looking in when one Alex Rodriguez left town for bazillions of dollars. The Texas Rangers went on to finish dead last in Rodriguez’s inaugural season while the Mariners went on to set the single season record for wins in a season sans A-Rod. I’m sure the Mariners have different expectations of this deal.
The Yankees have yet to fill the hole at second base left by Cano, but things appear to be shaping up. With a healthy Mark Teixeira at first base, Kelly Johnson can return to third and the red hot Yangervis Solarte can slide in at second base to replace the aging Brian Roberts. The combo of Solarte, Roberts, and Johnson at second may never match the offensive prowess of Cano, however, if they can hold there own and clog things up in the middle, than the rest of the Yankees’ sluggers can fill that void.
How will Cano be greeted in the Bronx? You can be sure there will be angry Yankees’ fans that feel Cano has betrayed the pinstripes with a lot of boo-birds resonating throughout Yankee Stadium. I, for one hope the fans realize that with Cano at the heart of the line-up, our Yankees won a World Championship and that, as the best second baseman in baseball, he deserved to go to any team that wanted to pay him that much money. Whatever you choose, you certainly don’t want to miss his return this coming Tuesday.