It has come to the point of the New York Yankees’ season where everyone starts to point fingers. People want Joe Girardi’s head on a plate, especially after last night’s complete mismanagement and ensuing meltdown of the bullpen. Others think it is Brian Cashman’s time to go. Although he made some important deadline moves, they feel they weren’t the right ones. And yet others, like our own Billy Brost, think it’s time for the Steinbrenners to get out of Dodge and take the team in a whole new direction. Well, folks, I can’t say I disagree with any of those arguments.
Along with pointing fingers, fans and the media want to know where this season went wrong. Was it all the pitching injuries? Is it Kevin Long’s anemic offense? Is it the wearing down of the bullpen from all of its overuse? I think that all plays into it, but the biggest problem this season started before the 2014 calendar year even began. December 12th to be precise.
What Yankees fans refuse to admit and are ignorant in accepting is that the day Robinson Cano left town, the Yankees as a team got worse. I get it. He was lackadaisical in the field, and unlike the Derek Jeter-led Yankees, he appeared to not be 100 percent hustle and thus not 100 percent “Yankees” material. When Cano felt slighted by the Yankees and not offered enough money, Yankees fans grew even more furious with his “attitude”. It was a who does this guy think he is mentality. This was Derek Jeter’s team, Cano should take what the Yankees brass offered him and be happy with that. So he left, and Yankees fans were ecstatic.
The Yankees felt that the $240 million that Seattle offered was too much to pay the best second baseman in baseball. That’s the truth, folks, there is no one better than Cano at second base in the bigs. So, the Yankees went out and spent $85 million on Brian McCann. They went and overpaid for a catcher in his decline at a position that has the most depth in the entire system. They went out and locked down Jacoby Ellsbury for $153 million to bring fear to the top of the lineup like the Yankees haven’t seen since Chuck Knoblauch led things off, yet he has been replaced by Brett Gardner as lead-off hitter. They inexcusably signed a then 36-year old, injury-prone Carlos Beltran until his age-39 season for $45 million. And then, to be safe and have extra insurance in the field to replace Robbie, they spent a combined $5 million on Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts, also known as the two shlubs that couldn’t even make it through one season in pinstripes. That’s a grand total of $288 million.
Signing Cano for the $240 million would still have left the Yankees plenty of money to go after Masahiro Tanaka. It would have saved the Yankees $48 million to go after another outfielder or one year replacement at third. It would have given one of the many catching prospects a chance to show their stuff at the big league level or even allow two of them to platoon. Yes, it would have meant that Ichiro would probably have had to been the every day right fielder. Sure, it means that probably a few more of the youngsters from the farm would have had to play in the field and the Yankees would have experienced some growing pains. Who cares? This season has been dismal and with the current situation at hand, there is very little to look forward to for next season. Oooo, CC Sabathia will return. Yay, A-Rod will come back. Having a down year because of growing pains with the expectations of getting better is way better than this train wreck we have all had to endure.
Next year, there will be no Derek Jeter in the Bronx. That means there is no face of the New York Yankees and that’s what the Yankees really lost in letting Cano leave. Throw away all the stuff you believed to be true about Cano, the laziness, the lack of love for the game, the he has no leadership mentality and look at what is happening in Seattle. Cano joined a Seattle team that was 71-91 last season and the only reason they weren’t in last place was because the National League kicked out the Houston Astros.
Right now, essentially the same exact team sits at 65-55, a mere half game out of the wild card with a better record than the Yankees in a division with two teams way better than any the AL East has to offer. The only major difference on the Seattle Mariners team from 2013 to 2014 is Robinson Cano. For the first time in his career, Robinson Cano had to be the face of a franchise and he has come through turning a dismal team into a competitor. Sure, last season Derek Jeter was out for much of the year, but make no mistake, New York was still Jeter’s city. Cano is already paying instant dividends while the major signings the Yankees made have proven to be of little value.
One side of the argument is that his power is down. So what? He currently has the highest on base percentage of his career, has the most stolen bases he has ever had in a season and has only struck out 51 times on the year. He has learned to adjust to play a different type of baseball than the Kevin Long smash or strikeout mentality in the Bronx. He is still currently second in the AL in batting average and is the veteran leadership this team of surprising youngsters apparently needed. Statistics don’t always tell the whole story. Winning usually does.
I know, it’s a mindset that I have been in the overwhelming minority of since the day he left. But I haven’t been shy at all since he left in December saying that this would come back to hurt the Yankees one day. I just didn’t expect it to be this soon. If the hapless Mariners make the playoffs this season and the high-powered, over paid Yankees team that can barely score runs doesn’t, it will be an embarrassment.