Tanaka Is the Best Pitcher in New York
Masahiro Tanaka is an ace. When you get a $155 million contract before ever stepping foot in the Major Leagues, you have some insanely high expectations to meet. Not even when your general manager states that you would be a “good number three pitcher” can temper expectations. Tanaka has met all expectations and has even surpassed them. Tanaka had the “worst” start of the season on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball against the Angels. His location was off slightly and he yielded four walks after having given up only three all season. However, his final line of 6 1/3 innings, 2 earned runs and 11 strikeouts was still very, very good. I would sign up for such a performance every time out without hesitation. He is currently third in the league in strikeouts with 46, one behind co-leaders Felix Hernandez and David Price. But Tanaka has had one less start than either Price or Hernandez. He has an ERA under 2.30. And has has not lost a game this season. Nor did he lost one playing in Japan last season. Tanaka is on record saying he thinks he can go undefeated this season. As dominant as he has been, now is not the time to doubt him.
Robinson Cano will return to Yankee Stadium for the first time since he signed a monster $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners in the off-season. Since signing the deal there has been some hard feelings on both sides. Yankees’ hitting coach Kevin Long criticized Cano for not hustling to first base on ground balls. Cano stated he didn’t feel loved by the Yankees’ front office. I don’t know how you can feel “unloved” when someone is offering you $175 millions dollars, but I do understand that it was a lot less than the Mariners were offering. As for Cano’s lack of hustle, it was not a secret during his nine years in pinstripes and if it was a problem, it should have been corrected in-house, not blasted to the media after Cano signed with another team. Billy Martin famously pulled Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson out of a game against the Red Sox for a lack of hustle. Joe Torre and Derek Jeter sat down a young Alfonso Soriano in 2001 and read him the riot act after he failed to run to first on a grounder. More recently Nationals’ manager Matt Williams benched one of the best young players in the game, Bryce Harper, for lack of hustle. Both sides are simply scorned and need to get over it.
I think Cano will get some cheers on Tuesday but there will be more boos than cheers from the home crowd. Cano was a liked and respected Yankee, but he was never beloved. He didn’t have signature October moments like some other former Yankees who came back. While he has been the best second baseman in the league for the last several years, Yankees’ fans can count only one ring on his hand. He won some silver sluggers, but no batting titles, no MVPs and no dramatic postseason success. Other Yankees with smaller resumes have returned to cheers, such as Tino Martinez, David Wells, and Jason Giambi. But I think Cano will be greeted by boos. Cano scorned the fans as well as the Yankees when he took the bigger contract, but the reason that he will be booed and not cheered is not because of money, but because most Yankees’ fans liked Cano instead of loving Cano and that subtle difference is all that is needed to boo after being scorned in the off-season. Those ladies and gentlemen, are your Bomber Bites with Jumping Joe Vitulli!