Out-Yankee’d… for the Better?

Robinson Cano has likely saluted the Bleacher Creatures for the final time as a Yankee.
Robinson Cano has likely saluted the Bleacher Creatures for the final time as a Yankee.

By now we all know that the Yankees are losing two of their better players in Curtis Granderson, who hopped crosstown and signed a 4-year, $60 million contract, and in Robinson Cano, who flew all the way across the country to Seattle, inking a deal for 10 years and $240 million. Losing this much production would be a devastating loss for any team.

So why am I not distraught over this loss of talent? Let’s start with Granderson.

When the Yankees first pulled off the trade for Granderson, they got one of the game’s best center fielders at the time. He could run. He could hit. He had power. He was everything anyone could want in a center fielder — so much so that they were willing to give up star prospect Austin Jackson for him.

And Granderson delivered. While 2010 with the Yankees wasn’t exactly stellar, in 2011 he hit 45 homers, drove in 119 runs, stole 25 bases, and hit .262.

Something happened that offseason. Strikeouts had always been a liability with Granderson, but in 2012 — although he hit 43 homers — he struck out 195 times. That’s nearly five strikeouts for every homer. It was during that season that the rumblings of discontent with Granderson among Yankee fans started, and his poor performance in the postseason only added to them. Couple that with the fact that he didn’t play at all last season and it’s no wonder the Yankees didn’t want him back.

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But Granderson wanted to stay in New York. So he jumped to the Mets. Good luck to him, and I certainly hope he knows what he’s getting into. Citi Field is where power hitters go to die. The move from Shea to Citi killed David Wright’s power numbers, and Jason Bay turned into a non-entity there. But who knows? The Mets have potential. Zach Wheeler will have to hold the fort down this year, but once Matt Harvey returns from Tommy John surgery in 2015 maybe the Mets will have built a lineup around Granderson, one that can take advantage of the deep outfield.

But now Robbie Cano, don’tcha know.

I’m not going to join the cacophony of fans out there who say that he sucks now that he’s gone, because he doesn’t. He is clearly the best second baseman in the game right now, and one of the best players overall.

But I stand by my opinion that no player is worth the money he was asking. Not even Miguel Cabrera.

Sure, Cano could hit long homers. He could make slick plays on defense. He could drive in a ton of runs. But he couldn’t carry the ballclub. The entire middle part of the Yankees season — from the sweep at the hands of the Mets to the series where they walked off the Detroit Tigers twice and finally woke up — proved as much. With such a poor lineup around him, pitchers were pitching around him and forcing him to take his walks — which is exactly what will happen in Seattle, provided the Mariners don’t snatch up someone like Mike Napoli.

In terms of star power, Cano came up at the wrong time. Throughout his Yankees career he was constantly being overshadowed by the likes of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, the circus act known as Alex Rodriguez, and of course Mariano Rivera. Everyone knew he was there, but he was just Robbie compared to those five, just one cog in the midst of a mighty machine, with the exception of the time where he was the only good power hitter on the team — and like I said before, he couldn’t carry the team. In Seattle, he will be the only hitting star on the team, which means everyone will focus on him.

With the move to Seattle, Cano also loses the short porch in right field and trades it for a rather pitcher-friendly park that is bound to rob him of some home runs, on top of the ones he loses as Yu Darvish pitches around him to get to the next guy.

He now joins the likes of Johnny Damon, LeBron James, Albert Pujols, and the Yankees’ newest outfielder in Jacoby Ellsbury in betraying fanbases who loved them very much in order to chase the big bucks. The difference is, all of those players were jumping ship to a team they thought would bring them a championship, or at the very least had a collection of players that could make the playoffs. Cano joins a team with no big names on it other than King Felix.

It’s pretty clear where his loyalties lie, and for that money and time, he wasn’t worth it for the Yankees to keep. Being out-Yankee’d actually feels pretty good once you look at that contract again and again.

I’ll admit that I became a big fan of Damon when he came to the Yankees, and I saw how Red Sox Nation reviled him from then on. It was only a matter of time before someone did the same thing to the Yankees, and I really wonder how the fanbase will react. For my part, I think it would be really fun to see the fans go and boo the crap out of him, toss dollar bills onto the field and all that jazz… but Yankee fans are too classy for that now. Free agency is a big part of baseball now, so we might as well get used to it.

Perhaps Cano will flourish in Seattle and bring the city its first World Series championship. Perhaps Seattle will rally around Cano, with a lineup built around him, and challenge the A’s and Rangers for dominance in the AL West. Or perhaps he will turn into an A-Rod, a Pujols, a Josh Hamilton — players who inexplicably fizzle out the second they sign a monumental contract.

But only time will tell. Until then, goodbye Granderson, and good riddance Cano.

And Jay-Z had better take that Yankees cap off.

DSC_1779All photos by the author.

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