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Tag:Robinson Cano
Posted on: February 21, 2012 9:11 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2012 10:43 am
 

Spring primer: New York Yankees



By C. Trent Rosecrans

After a one-year stint as an underdog, the Yankees are back to being the clear favorite in the American League East. New York fortified its rotation with Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda, upgrading what appeared to be its one weak link.

Yankees spring training
Major additions: RHP Michael Pineda, RHP Hiroki Kuroda, DH Raul Ibanez
Major departures: RHP A.J. Burnett, DH Jesus Montero, RHP Bartolo Colon, DH Jorge Posada

Probable lineup:
1. Derek Jeter SS
2. Curtis Granderson CF
3. Robinson Cano 2B
4. Alex Rodriguez 3B
5. Mark Teixeira 1B
6. Nick Swisher RF
7. Russell Martin C
8. Raul Ibanez DH
9. Brett Gardner LF

Probable rotation:
1. CC Sabathia
2. Hiroki Kuroda
3. Michael Pineda
4. Ivan Nova
5. Phil Hughes

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Mariano Rivera
Set-up: RHP David Robertson, RHP Rafael Soriano

Important bench players
C Francisco Cervelli, IF Eduardo Nunez, OF Andruw Jones, IF Eric Chavez

Prospect to watch: With the additions of Kuroda and Pineda, there's not quite the pressure on left-hander Manny Banuelos that there was last spring. Banuelos doesn't turn 21 until March 13, so he can develop without the pressure of being the savior of the Yankees. His results last season at Double-A and Triple-A didn't live up to the hype, but he's still a quality young pitcher than can contribute to the rotation in the future.

Fantasy breakout: Michael Pineda

"With a year of experience, he'll be better equipped to handle a full workload, which could lead to 15-plus victories with the Yankees' stellar lineup backing him. And most likely, any rise in ERA will be in relation to the early 2.58 mark, not the final 3.74 mark." - Scott White

Fantasy sleeper: Phil Hughes

"With an improved workout program this offseason, he should be able to pick up where he left off late last year, when he was throwing in the low-to-mid 90s. True, Hughes wasn't exactly an ace then, but just by holding a regular rotation spot for the high-scoring Yankees, he's a sleeper in Fantasy. And if he can recapture the form he showed in the first half of 2010, when he was an All-Star, he's a late-round steal." - Scott White

Optimistic outlook: Pineda lives up to expectations, Kuroda is solid, Nova takes a step forward, Hughes makes 30 starts and Sabathia wins the Cy Young. That pitching, with a healthy A-Rod, Granderson repeating his 2011 output and Teixeira lives up to his contract and the Yankees win the AL East easily and go on to win the World Series.

Pessimistic outlook: Anything less than a World Series title is the end of the world in New York, so it doesn't have to be too bad for Yankees fans to overreact. But the worst-case scenario is the team's older stars continue to age, with injuries taking away A-Rod, Jeter, Teixeira and Martin for long periods of times. Pineda struggles in New York and his lack of a third pitch comes back to bite him, Kuroda is mediocre and Nova takes a step back. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays take a step forward and New York finishes behind Tampa Bay, Boston and Toronto.

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Posted on: January 12, 2012 10:35 am
Edited on: January 13, 2012 10:50 pm
 

Would You Rather Have: Cano or Pedroia?



By Matt Snyder


As we continue the final trek toward spring training, we also continue the series that's gonna get us there. Our first installment of Who Would You Rather Have got some pretty good discussion going, as it pitted Roy Halladay against Justin Verlander. I believe we have an equally tough decision in front of us this time around, too.

For this installment, we look to baseball's most intense rivalry ... specifically the second basemen: Robinson Cano and Dustin Pedroia. I feel compelled to point out that we seemed to get a lot of non-answers on Twitter and in the comments (like "Tim Lincecum" to the Verlander vs. Halladay question), and I'm thinking those people didn't understand that this is an ongoing series. I can assure you that many big names from across America -- like Lincecum -- will be included at some point. You'll also have a decision between two young NL West sluggers Saturday, for example. Patience ...

Anyhow, it's Cano vs. Pedroia now. Red Sox vs. Yankees. Beantown vs. the Bronx. Let's get it on.

The case for Cano

While he was already a very good hitter, Cano has developed into one of the most feared hitters in baseball over the past two seasons, finishing in the top six of MVP voting both times. His triple slash line of .311/.365/.533 from 2010-11 is a beauty for a second baseman, not to mention the 28 homers, 46 doubles, 118 RBI and 104 runs he posted last season. It was good enough for Cano to bring home the Silver Slugger for the second consecutive season.

A model of durability as well, Cano hasn't played in less than 159 games in any of the past five seasons. Pedroia only managed 75 games in an injury-plagued 2010 season, so that's a point for Cano.

The case for Pedroia

On the other hand, Pedroia played in 157, 154 and 159 games, respectively, in three of the past four seasons, so it's not like he's injury prone. Pedroia, the 2007 Rookie of the Year, also won the 2008 MVP. And Pedroia can do it all. He hit 21 home runs last season while stealing 26 bases and also winning a Gold Glove (his second). His .307/.387/.474 line is competitive with Cano's, too. Where Pedroia has a bit less home-run power, he makes up for it by getting on base. He holds a .373 to .347 advantage in career OBP.

Pedroia has one World Series ring, but so does Cano.

Cano will make $14 million in 2012 while Pedroia will make $8 million, but Pedroia's salary increases in the next several years while Cano is a free agent after a 2013 club option. Age is a veritable wash, as Cano is roughly 10 months older.

Really, any which way you can divide this up, it's a very close call. Many advanced defensive metrics show Pedroia with a significant edge in range, hence the 2011 Fielding Bible award -- meaning the stat crowd views him as the best defensive second baseman in all of baseball. Cano is viewed as no better than average defensively from that perspective. Cano did win the 2010 AL Gold Glove, but Gold Glove voting has produced dubious results at times -- like Rafael Palmeiro taking the honors in 1999 while playing only 28 games in the field. Unlike many younger bloggers and writers, I don't totally discount the Gold Glove, but I do trust the Fielding Bible awards more. Of course, using either one gives the defensive edge to Pedroia -- and you could argue Cano only won the 2010 Gold Glove because Pedroia was hurt anyway, which I would.

Our call

I'm going to go with Pedroia here in a photo finish, the closest of calls, based upon the defensive separation. The two are very close across the board. Just as with yesterday's pick, I could go either way and there definitely isn't a wrong answer. In fact, we have over 20 of these posts lined up, and this may well be the hardest choice among them.

But now it's your turn. Vote and comment away.

Fan Vote:



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Posted on: January 7, 2012 12:10 am
 

Under-30 players building Hall of Fame foundation



By Matt Snyder


T-minus two days until the Hall of Fame vote for the 2012 induction is unveiled, so we'll continue talking about the Hall of Fame in this relatively slow time of the year. This time around, we'll take a look at active players younger than 30 who have laid a foundation that makes a run to Cooperstown possible.

Now, make no mistake about it, none of these players are close to having completed their big-league careers nor are they currently close to being locks to the Hall of Fame. Still, some are well on their way and others have started a journey that may push them into the discussion in a decade or so.

Obviously things could change in just one season -- just take a look below at a certain catcher from Minnesota. Or think about how good it looked for Grady Sizemore three years ago at this time before injuries completely derailed him. And we have to understand that just a few seasons of being an elite player doesn't necessarily mean the longevity will be there -- take the cases of Fernando Valenzuela and Dwight Gooden, for example. For various reasons, careers can get off track. Still, it's fun to take a look at which young players have built a possible Hall-of-Fame foundation.

By no means is this an exhaustive list, but here are 20 under-30 guys who could be on the right track, in alphabetical order (age in parentheses):

Hall of Fame coverage
Miguel Cabrera (28) - The first name we list might well be the most impressive case on here. In eight full seasons (he appeared in 87 games as a rookie) Cabrera has been an All-Star six times and finished in the top five of MVP voting five times. He's hit .317/.395/.555, which is good for a 149 OPS-plus. Saying Cabrera is just about halfway through his career is probably reasonable and he already has 277 homers and 984 RBI.

Robinson Cano (29) - He wouldn't have appeared on this list until the past two seasons, but Cano has grown into one of the more dangerous hitters in baseball. He'd need to continue this pace for another six to eight years at least before being a Hall candidate, though.

Prince Fielder (27) - Six full seasons -- with 39 games in '05 -- have yielded 230 homers and 656 RBI. Fielder also has an impressive .390 on-base percentage and a whopping .929 OPS (143 OPS-plus). He's already finished in the top four of MVP voting three times. Can his robust body hold up long-term? If it does, he's probably headed to Cooperstown. Baseball-Reference.com's top similar statistical player through age 27 is Hall of Famer Eddie Murray.

Adrian Gonzalez (29) - Did he get started too late? Gonzalez didn't become a full-timer until '06 and wasn't a dominant force until '09. Still, four All-Star Games, three Gold Gloves and two Top 10 finishes in MVP voting. He also has a career .889 OPS (140 OPS-plus) and over 1,100 hits already.

Felix Hernandez (25) - We've seen so many pitchers flame out over the years after huge starts -- I mentioned two in the intro -- but King Felix basically only needs to stay healthy and keep his head on straight. He's already 85-67 with a 3.24 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 1,264 strikeouts. He has one Cy Young and also finished second once. And he could conceivably pitch 15 more seasons. Even conservatively -- assuming health -- you have to say he has 12 more in him.

Matt Kemp (27) - After a runner-up finish in MVP voting this past season, Kemp inked a huge contract with the Dodgers. He could be the face of the franchise for a decade. The power-speed combo (128 HR, 144 steals) along with a Gold Glove shows he can do it all.

Clayton Kershaw (23) - He went 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA, 248 strikeouts, an All-Star appearance and a Cy Young award last season. At 23. Enough said.

Tim Lincecum (27) - Two Cy Youngs, four All-Star appearances and a World Series ring so far. Not too shabby. Like Hernandez, Kershaw and all other great young pitchers, health and avoiding major off-field trouble are the biggest roadblocks. But there is serious foundation and talent here. I wouldn't bet against Lincecum. 

Evan Longoria (26) - He's going to be the face of the Rays for a long time and his arrival coincided with them shedding the laughingstock label. The 2008 AL Rookie of the Year has three All-Star appearances, two Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger. His 136 OPS-plus bodes well. But his average dropped 50 points last season. Harbinger or aberration? I'd guess the latter.

Joe Mauer (28) - Would've seemed a lot more firm here last year at this time. The disaster of a season doesn't erase the amazing good Mauer did through the first six-plus seasons in his career, but it raises health questions moving forward. His bat means a whole lot less if he's playing first base instead of catching.

Andrew McCutchen (25) - He already has 95 doubles, 19 triples, 51 homers and 78 stolen bases. He has an .822 OPS (123 OPS-plus). What if he gets even better and is the driving force behind a complete Pirates turnaround?

Dustin Pedroia (28) - The 2007 Rookie of the Year followed up that act with a 2008 MVP. He's hitting .305/.373/.463 in his six-year career, while he's also won a World Series ring, two Gold Gloves and been to the All-Star Game three times.

Hanley Ramirez (28) - He would've been one of the best bets two years ago, but he's now mired in a two-year decline. Goes to show how quickly things can change. Of course, there's plenty of time to get back to 2007-09 form.

Jose Reyes (28) - In six "full" seasons (we'll say at least 125 games played), Reyes has been among the best players in baseball. There's no questioning that. Can he stay on the diamond enough to make himself a viable Hall candidate? It doesn't look great, but the talent is there.

Troy Tulowitzki (27) - Tulowitzki brings in three straight top-eight finishes in MVP voting and is the premier defensive shortstop in the National League. He really only has four seasons worth counting toward a possible Hall induction so far, though, so he's gonna need about eight to 10 more.

Justin Upton (24) - The potential here is insane. He came in fourth in MVP voting last season and should only get better. Again, there are many ways for younger players to derail, but Upton has all the tools to one day hit Cooperstown. Consider me a believer.

Justin Verlander (28) - Yes, he's only 28. Verlander already has 107 wins, 1,215 strikeouts, four All-Star appearances (that is, he made the team, not pitched in the game), a Cy Young and, yes, an AL MVP. He was already one of the better aces in baseball, but then went into a new stratosphere last season. If that continues, he's a cinch to make the Hall. We'll see.

Joey Votto (28) - In just four full seasons, Votto has made a name for himself as a marquee slugger. He won the 2010 MVP and followed it up with a stellar 2011 campaign as well. His career .955 OPS (151 OPS-plus) is incredible and he added a Gold Glove last season, too.

Jered Weaver (29) - Weaver was quietly really good until last season, and you can now drop the "quietly." He was the All-Star Game starter and could have easily won the Cy Young Award, if Verlander didn't happen to be putting up a historic season in the same league. In six seasons, Weaver is 82-47 with a 3.31 ERA and 977 strikeouts. Considering his age, though, this is a pretty tall order. He'll need another eight years of dominance, I'd guess.

David Wright (29) - I think I would have felt pretty good about him after 2008, but he's fallen off a slight bit since then. Perhaps the change in the ballpark dimensions helps, in addition to some health -- for himself and teammates. Wright does already have five All-Star appearances and a .300/.380/.508 line with 183 homers and 151 steals.



I think my four best bets right now would be, in no particular order: Verlander, Cabrera, Hernandez and Upton. Could be a lot more, could be a lot less. All 20 of these guys have plenty of time to either build a resume or screw it up. History tells us there's no chance all 20 make the cut, and even guessing half of these guys getting to Cooperstown is a big stretch.

Feel free to add more names in the comments, as there definitely isn't a wrong answer in this department.

Coming Sunday: "Asterisk" guys with Hall-type resumes
Monday: 2012 Hall of Fame inductee(s) announced
Monday: Looking ahead at the 2013 first-year eligibles
Monday: Looking at the '14, '15 and '16 first-year eligibles

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Posted on: January 5, 2012 12:41 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2012 12:50 pm
 

Yankees can't agree to deal with Japanese SS

Hiroyuki NakajimaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Yankees announced on Thursday that they were unable to come to an agreement with Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. Last month he Yankees won the bidding on Nakajima's posting rights with an bid worth approximately $2 million.

"We unfortunately could not come to an agreement with Hiroyuki," Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said in a statement released by the team. "We wish him the best of luck during the upcoming 2012 season."

Nakajima's 2012 season will be with the Seibu Lions, where he's hit .297/.354/.433 with 16 home runs and 21 steals last season. He was expected to be a backup infielder with New York -- as you might have known, they already have a shortstop in Derek Jeter, third baseman in Alex Rodriguez and a second baseman in Robinson Cano. The Yankees are expected to re-sign Eric Chavez as a backup infielder.

Because the Yankees did not agree to a deal with Nakajima, they do not have to pay the posting fee.

Next season Nakajima will be an international free agent and able to sign with any team he wishes, bypassing the posting system.

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Posted on: November 23, 2011 11:59 am
Edited on: November 24, 2011 12:26 am
 

Homegrown Team: New York Yankees



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no waivers, no minor- or major-league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams.

It's late November. The awards have all been handed out. The Winter Meetings are in a few weeks. Pitchers and catchers don't report for almost three months. So it's the perfect time to kick off a fun little series. So we're starting the Homegrown series right now. We have a landing page that will be filled out as we move forward with the feature -- on which you can see the exact date we'll be posting each individual team.

What I love most about this series is that it has the potential to either enlighten or vindicate rabid fans in heated arguments. Large-market, big-spending teams are often attacked by opposing fans as simply trying to "buy championships" without having to develop their own talent. The biggest target is the Yankees, so what better team to start the series with?

The news is pretty good for the haters. You have been vindicated. This team would be ... well, you'll see.

Lineup

1. Brett Gardner, LF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Robinson Cano, 2B
4. Alfonso Soriano, DH
5. Jesus Montero, 1B
6. Melky Cabrera, RF
7. Austin Jackson, CF
8. Francisco Cervelli, C
9. Eduardo Nunez, 3B

Starting Rotation

1. Ian Kennedy
2. Ivan Nova
3. Phil Hughes
4. Chien-Ming Wang
5. Jeff Karstens

Bullpen

Closer - Mariano Rivera
Set up - John Axford, David Robertson, Tyler Clippard, Mark Melancon, Joba Chamberlain
Long - Phil Coke? Jose Contreras?

Notable Bench Players

Jorge Posada, Dioner Navarro, Juan Rivera, Jose Tabata ... and that's about it. Unless Marcus Thames and Shelley Duncan get you excited.

What's Good?

That bullpen is sick. It would easily be the best in baseball, with any lead past the fifth inning seemingly being safe in the hands of Clippard, Robertson, Axford and Rivera.

What's Not?

Anything else. Nothing is horrible, but the lineup, defense and rotation leave a lot to be desired. What's worse, there's really no depth in case of injuries. They'd have to turn to either Coke or a minor leaguer (Dellin Betances?) in the rotation -- or convince Andy Pettitte to come out of retirement -- and Ramiro Pena is the only backup infielder. There are plenty of backup outfielders, but Tabata's really the only one with upside.

Comparison to real 2011

Well, let's see. The 2011 Yankees won 97 games en route to a division title and the best record in the American League. This team is mediocre at best. The bullpen is awesome, but how many leads would there be to protect? 75? There is an MVP candidate in Cano, but having Soriano as protection isn't near as cushy as he's used to. Since this is the first team in our 30-team series, we won't reveal many other specifics, but I can tell you that this Yankees team would probably finish fourth in the AL East. Thus, it's much worse than reality. I have no way of measuring this, but I do think this team is better than many Yankee-hating fans would have guessed. Lots of those act like the Yankees have never developed anyone. This isn't an awful collection, it's just not good.

Now, it's absolutely worth noting the Yankees lost lots of draft picks as compensation for signing free agents, so that's why they don't have any depth. But let's just remember this is supposed to be a fun exercise for the offseason.

Up next: San Diego Padres

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Posted on: November 2, 2011 6:37 pm
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Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:52 am
Edited on: November 2, 2011 7:04 am
 

Yankees, Brian Cashman agree to 3-year extension

Brian CashmanBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Brian Cashman is staying in New York for at least three more years. Yankees ownership announced Tuesday that it had re-signed its general manager through the 2014 season.

Cashman, 44, has the third-longest tenure among active general managers and is the longest-serving Yankees GM since Ed Barrow, who was in charge of the team from 1920 to 1945.

The Yankees are 1,369-895-2 since Cashman took over the team on Feb. 3, 1998. His teams have appeared in the playoffs in 13 of his 14 seasons as GM with six World Series appearances and four titles.

While critics note "anyone" could win with the Yankees payroll, the Red Sox, Mets and Cubs have proven that's not necessarily true. Cashman is one of the game's best general managers, and he will continue to be so for at least three more years. And it appears there may be very little drama this offseason in the Bronx -- a welcome sight after last year's Derek Jeter soap opera. The team has already signed extensions with Cashman and CC Sabathia, while picking up the options on Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. Now all that they need is a couple of starting pitchers and everything should be peachy.

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Posted on: October 29, 2011 9:10 pm
 

Yankees pick up options on Cano, Swisher

Cano

By Evan Brunell


The Yankees have exercised their team options on Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher, the team said in a news release.

Cano's option was a no-brainer. One of the best second basemen in the game, Cano hit .302/.349/.533 in 2011 with 28 home runs. In 2010, he finished third in the MVP voting. He has a team-friendly contract however, and gave the Yankees consecutive club options in 2012 and 2013. Cano will earn $14 million in 2012, with 2013's option valued at $15 million. Agent Scott Boras recently appealed to GM Brian Cashman to renegotiate his deal. Cano recently switched agents to Boras, so Boras will not earn a commission on these club options; he gets a commission for whatever deal he signs, so while there is certainly motivation on his end, Cano, if he was a free agent, would be in line for a lot of money. Instead, the 29-year-old he will hit the free agent market at age 31, and that's a significant difference in contracts.

As for Swisher, word surfaced that the club was considering not picking up his $10.5 million option and pursuing Carlos Beltran in free agency, but it never made sense for New York not to pick up the option. The 30-year-old had a strong year, hitting .250/.374/.449 and would have been worth the money to any team, not just the Yankees. Even if Cashman wants to pursue Beltran, picking up Swisher's option and trading him is the more obvious move rather than straight releasing him.

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