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Dare, Dare

 New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox

Do the Yanks dare to let Robbie Cano go? No, they don’t. They’ll sign him. But Tyler Kepner thinks it is a decent idea:

Losing a superstar is not always as devastating as people fear at the time. Two winters ago, the St. Louis Cardinals watched Albert Pujols leave for a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels. They responded by signing Carlos Beltran for two years, giving contract extensions to Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, and using their compensatory draft pick on Michael Wacha. Discipline sometimes works.

The Yankees are willing to give Cano $23 million or so for each of the next seven years, a $161 million package that is already too generous. That kind of deal has put the Yankees in their present state — decaying and injury-prone — and the team needs to break the cycle.

An influx of fresh talent from the farm system is the best way to start. The Yankees do not have those players, but that should not make them desperate. Desperate teams make the costliest mistakes.

[Image Via: Rob Tringali]

Categories:  1: Featured  Hot Stove  Yankees

Tags:  Robinson Cano  Tyler Kepner

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1 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 21, 2013 9:50 am

We'll see. I think A-Rod's beef will have a lot of pull with decent free agents not willing to go through the trouble the team and the media will eventually heap on them; if past actions were any indication, they could expect more of the Jason Giambi/Johnny Damon/Nick Swisher experience. Robbie saw all of it firsthand, so I understand why he would want to tighten the screws on them before either signing or leaving. He'll get his money, if not the years.

2 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Nov 21, 2013 10:03 am

Kempner is exactly right on one point: it's time to break the cycle. We need to get back to a core of Yanks who are younger, more athletic, better defenders. If we had a great rotation, some promising position players in the minors, I'd say sign Robbie to the 7 year deal; but truth be told, there are so many needs (and the division is so competitive) that investing that much while in all probability being out of the pennant race for 3-4 years (the prime years of a proposed contract)just doesn't make sense.

3 Alex Belth   ~  Nov 21, 2013 10:29 am

2) I don't disagree but when was the last time the Yanks were young, athletic and a great fielding team?

4 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Nov 21, 2013 10:54 am

3) Um, 1956?

And while you are certainly correct, it seems that teams these days are getting younger and more athletic, and fielding seems increasingly important as the pitching gets better (although there's probably a connection there too).

5 Dimelo   ~  Nov 21, 2013 11:30 am

I so wish they'd let Cano go. He was supposed to be the straw that stirred the drink on this year's team, yet we didn't even sniff the playoffs. If we are not going to be in the playoffs with him in the lineup, then let him walk because if the result is pretty much the same - then I do not understand what his value is to the team.

Cano is a fine complimentary player, not a player to carry the team when most needed. I can only think of last September when he played out of his mind, but then he went back to being Cano during the playoffs.

6 RIYank   ~  Nov 21, 2013 11:30 am

I think people are too influenced by this past year. Remember, critics have been saying that the Yankees are "decaying and injury-prone" for years -- over a decade. And they just keep winning. This past year they were not a very good team, but to leap from that fact to the conclusion that they have to "break the mold" is not rational.

Not that I wouldn't love to see them with five excellent home-grown stars or near-stars. I'd just rather see them with four of those 23 years olds plus Rob at second base.

7 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 21, 2013 12:05 pm

[ 6] the thing is though, the Yanks had their core players that they were complimenting with serviceable players, which is all you can really expect with today's market dynamics and free agency. But the Yanks have gone off the rails with that; failing to replenish or compliment their aging core with comparable players and instead employing extreme market All Stars in or leaving their prime, retreads and scrap heap players hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. They either got religion about their farm too late or they strategized poorly and it's come back to bite them. Either way, the criticism is fair in that even if they have contended for this long, they have failed spectacularly in the playoff rounds they lost, and it's a question of when, not if the playoff trend ends and the also ran trend begins. It's really too bad, they have potential for unprecedented success, but their front office strategy is too divided.

8 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 21, 2013 12:13 pm

There's also the possibility that the Yanks are reluctant to promote their top rated farm players because they would likely be exposed in the majors. Some of the already have, so it's a real possibility the youthful players they need are not half as good or ready to be good as proclaimed.

9 Greg G   ~  Nov 21, 2013 12:49 pm

One thing about having older players in a time where PED testing has more bite, is that the older players and especially the older power hitters are not playing up to the numbers posted a few years ago.

Last year's team just ran out of gas. You wonder if PED testing wasn't around, if this bumch wouldn't have found a way to win, or at least reach the playoffs? Maybe Andy would have looked for some Doctor's help if he hadn't been caught a few years back?

Getting younger and more athletic seems to be the way to go in the future, or at least having a mix of players old and young. There was a reason that Bonds seasons proved to be an anomaly at the age he was posting those numbers. The Yanks are still working on an "old" model.

As for Cano, it would be great to watch him post big numbers on a lousy team and even better to see him post good numbers on a great team. I hope he stays with the Yankees.

If we look at the turnaround that the Red Sox had, the same can happen for the Yanks. They have the financial wherewithal to gut this team and start over.

Some team will be a sucker and take Tex and ARod off our hands. Calling the Angels on line 2.

10 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 21, 2013 1:35 pm

Were Cano an OF or a 1B, I could see letting him walk. But you just don't get anything close to what he gives you at 2B.
Cano is a great player. It drives me crazy that so many Yankee fans can't see that. There's way too much focus on what he doesn't do rather than on what he does do. If you can find another middle infielder with his blend of defense, power and hitting, who plays 160 games every year, please let me know.
So he doesn't run hard out of the box. So what? There are plenty of .230 hitters who will run hard every play. You take that guy, give me Cano.

11 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Nov 21, 2013 2:21 pm

Robbie is a great, great player, probably best Yankee 2b ever. But 7 years or 10 years from now?

12 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 21, 2013 2:38 pm

[11] 10 years would be looney - I don't see how you give any athlete a 10 year deal, regardless of age. 7 isn't ideal, but I don't think it's prohibitive for a 30 year old who's shown great durability.

13 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 21, 2013 3:24 pm

[12] the going logic seems to indicate that the Yanks would be willing to go with seven at best and around $200 mil if they have to compete. Under potential scenarios, that seems reasonable. But if Texas or anyone were to tack on a guaranteed 8th or 9th year? I can't blame them for walking away from that.

14 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 21, 2013 3:36 pm

[13] Yeah, that would be a very tough call. I was just shocked by how many comments on that Kepner piece were people so willing to let him walk without even trying. "He doesn't hustle." Drives me crazy! First of all, too often that's code. Secondly, why does hustle mean more than results? They really think a scrappy .240 hitter or mediocre glove man will somehow lead to more wins? I don't think people realize how much better Cano is than almost everyone at his position. I mean, outside of Pedroia, who else is even in the conversation?

15 Sliced Bread   ~  Nov 21, 2013 3:48 pm

Robbie doesn't bust down the line to first base. So what? He's got one gear, but he's still the most productive, consistent, and durable everyday player on the team. Has been for years.
But if he won't take top dollar for six or seven years, I'd let him go.

16 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 21, 2013 3:54 pm

[15] It all depends on what else he can find, don't you think? Is anyone going to go near that 10 yr/$300 mil he wants? My guess is no, and the Yankees will overpay him for 7 or 8 years and I'll be okay with it.

17 Sliced Bread   ~  Nov 21, 2013 4:06 pm

16) 7 years, twist my arm, but definitley not 8.

18 RIYank   ~  Nov 21, 2013 4:10 pm

[16] Yes. That sounds pretty likely to me, too. (And I'm okay with it.)

[7] I just don't buy it. Where's the evidence that 'young athletic' players suddenly show up stronger in the playoffs? I thought the conventional wisdom was that time-tested veterans with post-season experience were going to step it up. I'm skeptical about both: my bet is that players of whatever type you like perform in the playoffs at the rate they perform in the regular season.

But I'm open to evidence to the contrary.

19 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 21, 2013 4:12 pm

[17] Is that really a meaningful distinction? I'm not crazy about 8 years, but I wouldn't let an 8th year be a deal breaker.

20 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Nov 21, 2013 4:45 pm

The argument about Cano's quality as a player is meaningless here. Ten years is out-the-window stupid as a commitment no matter whom you're talking about.

Man just had his 31st birthday. Supposing, in retrospect...
...The Yankees had signed Mickey Mantle to a 10-year contract starting in 1962?
...DiMaggio to a ten-year contract starting in 1945?
...Mattingly to a ten-year contract starting in 1992?

The kind of draft horse longevity you see in a Pettitte or a Rivera (or a Davey Lopes, to cherry-pick a 2B) is an aberration, not a strategy pillar. If I had a say, and I don't, I'd pay Cano exorbitantly for five or six years tops. If that doesn't satisfy him, best of luck elsewhere.

I'm willing to pay present money for past glory when I see an aging star on Broadway, or buy a nicely bound edition of a classic book. Doesn't work that way for athletes. Kepner's wisest line in today's article is his last:

"It is time, for once, to let another team pay for the inevitable decline of a star."

21 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 21, 2013 5:04 pm

[20] Has anyone advocated a 10 year deal other than Cano and his agent?
The Mantle comparison is not useful. By 1962 Mantle was already banged up and had spent significant time injured. The same is true of DiMaggio and Mattingly. This is not true of Cano. You're comparing an exceptionally durable player to three players who had their careers compromised by injuries.
Yes, of course, Cano could rip up his knee tommorrow, but that still doesn't make your comparisons apt.
In a perfect world, the Yanks would give Cano a fat 5 year deal and we'd be done...but alas...

22 GaryfromChevyChase   ~  Nov 21, 2013 6:07 pm

I guess emotionally Cano just doesn't have the iconic persona of the Babe, Mick, Yogi, Donnie, or the Captain - We all knew that A*rod would never be a beloved Yankee, and I don't see Cano making that connection, either,as wonderfully talented as he is. People will not pay to see him.

23 Sliced Bread   ~  Nov 21, 2013 6:52 pm

19) I think it is meaningful. Look at it as the difference between paying for Jeter two years ago when he was productive, and this year which he missed. $30 million or whatever they're going to pay him per year is very meaningful. Seven years at top dollar is enough for a 32 year old player no matter who he is. I would let him walk if he demands the 8th year.

24 Chyll Will   ~  Nov 21, 2013 7:13 pm

We have to wait and see and try not to get caught up in the sports reporters rhetoric. Reporters are saying that Cano and company are not backing off their 10yr/$305 mil demand, do you really believe that? And as far as we know, the Yanks have NOT taken a final stance on their offer, though they have insisted it's substantial. We have no idea whether 7 or 8 years is reasonable to the Yanks, but we do know they refuse to go to 10, making 8 a lot less likely than 7, but not impossible.

I wonder if anyone thinks that what we've seen from Robbie is the best you'll get. What price would you put on that?

25 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 21, 2013 7:15 pm

[23] The thing is, despite what is said in [20], in sports you are always paying for past performance (also, its more acceptable to overpay your own player than someone brought in mid-career). Cano will be 31 in 2014. I'd be willing to gamble he's still a valuable player at 37, 38 years old, if only because he's a unique talent. I'm also suggesting that 7-8 years from now, the Yankees will be in better shape in terms of payroll. That of course remains to be seen (although we know they will be rid of certain contracts by then). I'm not saying there's NO WAY you let him leave (Any contract that pays him into his 40s is absurd), I'm just saying it would be a weird time for a team that has always over payed outside FAs to get cheap with a homegrown star (and the Yankees only reliable offensive threat right now).

Also, let's be honest - it's not my money and it's not yours!

26 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 21, 2013 7:18 pm

[24] Logically, you would think you have maybe another 1-3 years at this level of play (3 being optimistic). However, if he stays healthy (no reason to think he won't, but...), a .280-.290 Cano isn't crazy to expect in his mid-30s and still would make him an elite 2B. His offensive value is not tied to his speed, which suggests he could age very well, actually. He *could* fall off the table, of course - there's obviously risk involved with any signing.

27 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 21, 2013 7:19 pm

[25] Yes, I know the word is overpaid. OOOPS!

28 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 21, 2013 7:24 pm

Sorry to post yet again, but I just read this from our old friend Mr. Jaffe and thought it pertinent:


29 Bronx Boy in NC   ~  Nov 21, 2013 10:00 pm

[25] Past performance is what you use to judge, but what you pay for is your best estimate of future performance. Everyone here is arguing about 7 or 8 years, but the line from the Cano camp is still 10, so that's the basis for my opinion.

Cano could have a monster 2014 for someone else and think he'd achieved a "suck it, Yankees" moment. But I won't credit him with that until he shows me he's still in pro ball in the walk year of what he's asking for, let alone still performing at an elite level.

The particular examples I chose (gimpy Mick, postwar Clipper) are less important than the principle: You don't know what's gonna happen over such a long stretch. But history tells you it's a huge exception when it works out. Actuarially, we've already seen most of the best of Robinson Cano. Not all, but most.

30 Matt Blankman   ~  Nov 21, 2013 10:30 pm

[29] But your examples are flawed from the get-go because you used three brittle players to compare to a guy who plays 160 games a year. Of course he could break his leg next June, but his past durability is going to be one of his selling points to whomever signs him. If you're just going to worry that a guy can get hurt, you'll never sign anyone. You're not going to be able to get a bunch of stars on one-year deals very often and the minor league cupboard is bare for at least another year.

So say Cano decides to deal and settles for 7 years at 30 mil (a HUGE if, but bear with me) and he's great for 2 years, really good for 3, good for 1 and kind of a drag for 1 - you wouldn't take that? I would in a heartbeat.

Look, even A-Rod's shitty contract wouldn't be such an albatross if they didn't have the rest of the over the hill gang collecting so much bread for the next year or two. I'm surprised so many fans are so gun shy. Or they just really underestimate how good Cano is.

31 Sliced Bread   ~  Nov 22, 2013 7:57 am

30) Jay Jaffe's case for going long on Cano is well-written, and well-thought, and you make many strong, and convincing points, too.
Here's the thing for me:
The ARod deal is something I don't want to revisit 7-8 years from now.
$200 million has become a (somewhat arbitrary) psychological barrier that I don't want to cross with any player ever again. $150million, 180, 190 million I can accept and rationalize while the player is still producing near the top of his game. But giving a longterm contract to one player, guaranteeing him a total sum that matches or exceeds the annual payroll of the wealthiest team in sports is beyond absurd to me. It's obnoxious. I don't want to resent players for being paid money they no longer deserve when they're older either.
I have no problem making Robbie the highest paid player in the game over the next 6-7 years, but enough is enough. If he can't hang with a contract below $200m, I don't want to watch him anymore.

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