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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Robinson Cano, where can you go?

It's awards week and from 1931 through 2012 there have been 158 MVP elections.  Here are the nine that resulted in a second baseman like Robinson Cano winning:

Frankie Frisch 1931 NL
Charlie Gehringer 1937 AL
Joe Gordon 1942 AL
Jackie Robinson 1949 NL
Nellie Fox 1959 AL
Joe Morgan 1975 NL
Joe Morgan 1976 NL
Ryne Sandberg 1984 NL
Jeff Kent 2000 NL
Dustin Pedroia 2008 AL

Only 9 players.  The 10 wins are 6% of all MVP and it is very unlikely that a second baseman will receive one of the two that are announced Nov. 14.

Third base has 17 MVP wins, including three for Mike Schmidt and two for Alex Rodriguez.  Most recent was Miguel Cabrera in 2012 who might win again in 2013.

A shortstop has been MVP 15 times, including two time winners Ernie Banks and Cal Ripken.

Even catcher and center field had 16 each.

So second base is the fielding position with the fewest MVP.  And since the back to back wins by Joe Morgan in 1975-1976, there will be 37 seasons and 75 winners, including a tie in 1979, with only three who played second base.  That's 4%.  Clearly second base is not viewed as an impact position.

Click this link to view MVP winners with fielding position.  Money figures below are from baseball-reference.com.

That hurts Cano who was paid $15 million in 2013, probably more than any second baseman in baseball history.  Cano received $14 million in 2012.

Dustin Pedroia, most recent second base MVP (2007), was paid $10 million in 2013 and $8 million in 2012.  His contract calls for these salaries (in millions):
2014 $12.5
2015 $12.5
2016 $13
2017 $15
2018 $16
2019 $15
2020 $13
2021 $12.

Pedroia will be 37 in 2021 and is one year younger than Cano.

There have been wild reports for months that Cano is seeking $300 million for ten years and that there is tremendous pressure on the Yankees to pay him.  I never bought that the Yankees were dumb enough to pay Cano that much.  There have been recent reports that during the season the Yankees offered Cano $165 million for 7 years.  Also, that the new objective for Cano is $200 million.  Who knows?

My position on Cano has been consistent:

Thursday, July 11, 2013  Cano isn't worth a huge contract.

Robinson Cano may be the all time Yankee second baseman but the Yankees should not break the bank to sign him when he becomes a free agent after the season...

Cano was born October 22, 1982, which means that when the 2014 season starts he will be 31.  The Yanks should make him a nice offer for four years at which time he will be 34 in the final year of that contract.  Cano would be 37 in the final year of a seven year contract   Older than that and the Yanks are right back where they are now with Derek Jeter 39 and Alex Rodriguez almost 38 struggling to get out of the minors and join the Yankees after major injuries.

The Yankees are correct in trying to get their total payroll under $189,000,000 for next season.  Then they will avoid the luxury tax and be able to sign young free agents like Giancarlo Stanton or Mike Trout or Bryce Harper in the next few years...

But some people state that the Yankees should pay Cano $25 to $30 million dollars per season for at least seven years.  That's nuts, especially for a guy who's good, but not that good.
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Monday, August 12, 2013  Yankee captain Robinson Cano: I don't think so.

He blew it.  Robinson Cano had the leadership of the New York Yankees sitting there for the taking and Cano was not up to the task.  Cano blew it on two fundamental levels.

1. Cano didn't play well enough when the team needed him most.
2. Cano didn't hustle all the time...

The Steinbrenner kids may well be nuts enough to succumb to media and even some fan pressure to offer Cano a huge bloated contract.  We can only hope that they do not compound that mistake by also naming Cano Yankee captain.  And since he clearly does not deserve to be Yankee captain should they give him the huge contract?

I don't think so.
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It's best for Cano to make a deal with the Yankees and become their all time second baseman.  Two years ago the St. Louis Cardinals made a substantial offer to Albert Pujols who instead opted for maximum bucks from the Angels.  Pujols could have replaced Stan Musial as the all time Cardinal but he chose to leave.  Cano should show more sense and re-sign with the Yankees.

But if Cano's ego forces a change, where can he go, especially for substantially more than he could get from the Yankees?  There are not a lot of options for Pujols type money for a second baseman.

St. Louis second baseman Matt Carpenter in 2013 had a comparable batting season to Cano who has done it for many years.  Carpenter led the National Conference in Runs, Hits and Doubles and he also bettered Cano in more esoteric stats.  St. Louis does not need Cano.

The Dodgers recently signed their second baseman of the future to a substantial contract so the Dodgers are not likely to pursue Cano.

Cleveland has young Jason Kipnis.  OPS+ 133.

Philadelphia has old Chase Utley.  OPS+ 125 in 2013 in 131 games at age 34.  Utley is signed for major bucks through 2018:
2014 $15
2015 $10 ($15 if on DL less than 15 days)
2016 $15 (option guaranteed with 500 plate appearance in previous season)
2017 $15 (option guaranteed with 500 plate appearance in previous season)
2018 $15 (option guaranteed with 500 plate appearance in previous season)

The Angels have Howie Kendrick.  They are also stuck with possibly the two worst free agent signings of all time: Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.  Kendrick is signed through 2015 at $9.35 and $9.5.  29 years old, 118 OPS+ in 2013.  Angels unlikely to want to spend big bucks on the older Cano.

Boston has Dustin Pedroia.

Pittsburgh has young Neil Walker.

Tampa has Ben Zobrist.

Those are the top hitting second basemen along with Cano.

San Francisco has Marco Scutaro who will be 38 in 2014 but he is signed through 2015 for $6.7 million for each season.  Will the Giants move on Cano anyway?

The Mets could move Daniel Murphy from second to first if they sign Cano and have the added bonus of sticking it to the Yankees.  But do the Mets have the money and the nerve?

Texas has money and Ian Kinsler who is one year older than Cano.  Kinsler's OPS+ has slipped from a career high of 134 in 2008 to 95 and 105 in the last two seasons.  But Kinsler is signed for major bucks through 2018:
2014 $16
2015 $16
2016 $14
2017 $11
2018 $12 team option, $5 buyout.

The Chicago Cubs might want Cano.  They need him but do they want to pay him?

Would Houston splurge?  They paid their entire team in 2013 less than the $15 million that Cano received.

Detroit?  Maybe.  Or they could put Jhonny Peralta at second.

Washington, Seattle, Miami?

Who is willing to pay Cano a lot more money than what the Yankees will be willing to pay?

Robinson Cano should just tell his agent to make a deal with the Yankees.  Whatever he gets, Cano will be rich beyond his wildest dreams.  And he would remain a Yankee, probably for his entire career.  How much is that worth?

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