What went wrong: Second base

CC in the postseason
Payroll to hit $180 million in ’09

A theme we touched on frequently this season was the poor hitting of Robinson Cano. He started off slow in 2007, but picked it up to finish strong. This year, he had a similarly slow start, but didn’t really pick it up the way he did in ’07. He had a good May, followed by a mediocre June, a very good July, solid August, and a bad start to September, followed by a strong finish.

April .151 .211 .236
May .295 .333 .432
June .287 .302 .416
July .327 .352 .495
August .290 .336 .490
September .287 .303 .404

To further break down September, Cano hit .167/.167/.229 from September 1 through his benching on September 14-15. From the 16th on he went on a tear, hitting .413/.431/.587. The benching might have served as a wake up call, it might not have. We can’t get in Cano’s head, so we don’t know for sure, but it sounds like it was part of it. The other part, of course, can be illustrated.

The one on the left is Cano’s stance on April 29 (pardon the half-Kenny Rogers). The one on the right is at the end of September. That’s quite a difference in stances. I’m figuring that had something to do with it, too. As Kevin Long said a few times this season, there were just too many moving parts in Cano’s swing. Closing Cano’s stance simplifies his swing, allowing him to make a more balanced strike at the ball.

So why wasn’t this changed earlier in the season? It seems that’s not Long’s style. From Cano himself, in May of this year:

“He gives you a lot of confidence, and that’s the best thing,” Cano said. “He doesn’t change your stance or anything. He’ll tell you you’re a good hitter, but he doesn’t lie to you, either. If he thinks it’s a bad pitch, it’s a bad pitch.”

This helps explain Long’s reluctance to tinker with Cano. He said as much himself:

“You’re reluctant to make those changes when he’s had success,” Long said. “He’s pretty much got to (level) off before you overhaul somebody.”

Long plans to join Cano in the Dominican Republic this winter to continue the refinement of this new approach.

Hopefully, he can get into the groove early in the season and silence critics before they can start up. It’s clear that Cano is a top talent. He plays a premium position, and most of the time plays it well. If he can get his bat going to even 2007 levels, he’ll be a staple in the lineup for years to come. If he can produce at 2006 levels, he’ll be a perennial All-Star, and also win the batting crown that so many pundits have predicted.

In 2008, though, he was a disappointment. There were good times, but those were offset by horrible times. Things came to a head in September, and it looks like he turned things around. Then again, it looked like he turned things around in July, so who knows what this means for the future. At this point, though, I’m not sure the Yanks should shop Cano. His contract, his position, and his potential make him a valuable chip, but they also make him valuable to the team.

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CC in the postseason
Payroll to hit $180 million in ’09
  • steve (different one)

    let’s say you have a guy who hit like this in 2006:

    .293/.318/.383 in April and May
    .374/.395/.616 in June-Sept

    and like this in 2007:

    .264/.298/.394 in April and May
    .325/.378/.531 in June-Sept

    all with the same swing.

    hypothetically speaking, if he started slowly again in 2008, would you change his swing? or would you just tell him to keep doing what he was doing?

    i’d probably opt for the latter.

  • Ivan

    Well hopefully the new stance help in 09. Long said the new stance will improve him in alot areas even his plate disipline. Cano is too talented to give up on and has showed he can produce. I think next season this guy is gonna blow up especially if his plate disipline improve.

    • http://barackobama.com TurnTwo

      except you really cant teach plate discipline.

      • BklynJt

        Ridiculous! Just because you spout commonly used gospel doesn’t mean they are true. We are human and that means we are able to learn from our mistakes.

        Either way, what if Cano’s problem is that he isn’t seeing the ball properly and thus has problem determining strike from ball. If he can improve that, which Long believes he can by simplifying his stance (ie. reducing moving parts), then he can improve his ball/strike determination.

        • http://barackobama.com TurnTwo

          its not ridiculous. if it’s in someone’s tendency to be aggressive at the plate, then they are going to hack in the count early, swing at bad pitches at times, and limit their walk totals for a single season.

          its not simply just ball/strike recognition; its a mindset at the plate. being aggressive or working a count. looking to take pitches, or looking to put the ball in play.

          and if you can teach it that easily to hitters, why doesnt everyone just learn how to work deep counts, knowing that when pitchers throw more pitches, they get tired sooner, and have tendencies to make more mistakes?

          • BklynJt

            I refuse to believe that people can’t change. I never said it was easy, but don’t paint everyone with the same broad brush.

            I’m sure you were saying last year how Moose was too stubborn to pitch inside; too old and a couldn’t get anyone out with his crappy stuff. Fast forward to this year and look at the great year he had. Moose learned to adapt, it’s what good baseball players do. If we want to believe that Cano is a good baseball player, we have to think that he can change.

    • B

      I hear people say trade Cano. The only possible way I see the Yankees thinking about dealing him is if the deal includes Jake Peavy.

  • JohnnyC

    If someone is willing to trade a top-tier starting pitcher for a package including Cano, Cashman would be derelict in his duties to turn it down. That said, as Omar would say, you don’t trade him just to make a point. If there’s a real benefit to trading him, yes, otherwise, keep him and hope rebounds to 2006 levels.

  • Reggie C.

    Joe.

    In Cano’s previous two seasons of work, did he change his batting stance ever during the season? Did the batting stance he started 2008 off using always work for him previously?

    Is it me or did Cano simply not adjust his stance & approach over the past 2 years, which made it too difficult for him to do it in ’08, and therefore, assured him a mediocre year.

  • Emac2

    With Jeter overdue for a move to the outfield and no one available or coming up through the system that excites me how in the world can you justify trading Cano?

    The dynasty was built up the middle and if we go with scrubs at SS, 2b and C we might as well take a few years off.

    I do like the idea of signing Hairston as a FA but wouldn’t want to count on him as a starter the first year if ever.

    • http://barackobama.com TurnTwo

      because you arent giving Cano away. you are trading him for another valuable commodity.

      of course, its based on the idea that you sign a FA to replace Cano at 2B, so its important for me that if you do move Cano, you sign Hudson to play 2B.

      • steve (different one)

        i’ve been as hard as anyone on Jeter for his defense, but Jeter was MUCH improved at SS this year.

        massive improvement over last year, where it is likely he was hurt. also, Girardi had him work on his positioning.

        what was once true “Jeter is overdue for a move”, isn’t really true right now.

        he proved this year, he can still play SS.

      • Emac2

        I can rephrase the question for you if it helps.

        How can you justify trading from a position of weakness for a position of strength?

        What about HUdson makes you think he is worthy of playing second base for a championship team?

        • http://barackobama.com TurnTwo

          I just like Hudson as a player. excellent defense (range, arm) and fundamentally sound at the plate… can move runners, bunt, get on base at the bottom of the lineup.

          actually, rephrasing the question makes no sense to me, nor did i need it to be rephrased.

          you arent giving up Cano if you trade him. you are taking his value, and spinning it for similar value at another position… now whether you get another position player or a pitcher, depends on what Cashman thinks the team can best utilize, and get the most value in return.

          if you dont get the value you want back from Cano, you dont trade him at all. you can be choosey here.

          • Emac2

            10 mil for a number 9 hitter is just a bad investment.

            I rephrased the question so you would understand the question you thought you answered when you said you were trading Cano for value and that makes it OK.

            The question isn’t if you are getting value. The question is why you trade a middle infielder when you have no middle infield depth for a pitcher when you can get one as a free agent and have a ton of mature prospects ready to go.

            • http://barackobama.com TurnTwo

              if you are trading your 2B for value at another position when you can substitute/supplement another player at 2B, then you do it.

              is this team better with just Robinson Cano, or a Zach Greinke and Orlando Hudson?

              or Matt Cain and Orlando Hudson?

              or Matt Kemp and Orlando Hudson?

              you get the point i’m making, i assume.

              and i personally couldnt care less about salary. you pay for the right player if you think that player gives you (the team/organization) the best opportunity to win.

  • bkight13

    He is not exactly cheap anymore. He is due $25m/3yrs with options that go to $54m/5yrs. The Yankees can’t afford the 1st half disappearing act anymore. He was passed by guys like Kinsler, Alexi Ramirez and Pedroia this year and has to improve. He is a valuable trade chip and they should explore the market.

    • A.D.

      You’d probably pay more than that for an Orlando Hudson, who is older, likely less offensively, and coming off injury/surgery.

      But he does give you top notch defense

      • http://barackobama.com TurnTwo

        not much more $$ to make it a prohibitive move.

        at max, you’re prob talking 3 years/$30 million, or maybe 4 years/$36 million… id imagine he’d sign for something in that range.

        • A.D.

          he made 6.25 in arb last year, obv the surgery knocks him down a bit, but I still would think he’d want 8M-10M a year, and probably some length, since he is 30

          • Emac2

            Hudson for 10 mill?

            Have you guys ever heard the word economy?

            • http://barackobama.com TurnTwo

              i could care less what they play a player if its the right move to make.

              the current economic crisis is also not going to stop the team from selling out that ballpark for every game next season, or put a crunch on expected new revenue that the ballpark will create. you can guarantee that right now.

              • Emac2

                Actually, I can quarantee that it will effect everyone. Even the mighty Yankees.

                They have been counting on huge income next year for years and not only is the stadium going to cost them more than thought their income will be lower.

                The point however is that it will effect other teams a lot more and players like Hudson aren’t getting anywhere near 10 per.

                • Slugger27

                  i think a 3/30 deal for hudson would be fair and very close to market value

                • Emac2

                  Based on what?

                • A.D.

                  Chances are they still sell out the stadium, after all it has less seats to fill, and they probably won’t alter ticket prices.

                  But we shall see, depends on a plethora of things, who would have though Congress would have an effect on baseball 2 years in a row?

  • A.D.

    If you take out April, the numbers aren’t too bad, still not what we hope & expect, and the 2B were pretty down.

    Hopefully a nice bounce back next year and more of those balls hitting the gap

  • SWB

    I know this has nothing to do with this post/site but if you guys ever talk to Chad Jennings tell him to change his blog format, it sucks for commenting and takes years to load no matter how fast the internet is. His site would be way better if it was easier to have a discussion on, I would post this on his blog but can’t figure out how to. You guys do a great job here too!

  • Adam

    this may be an unpopular thing to say, but what exactly has kevin long done while with the yankees? under his tutelage we have seen diminished performances from cano and melky at points in there career where they should be improving. we have seen an extremely talented lineup underperform time after time. sure, the players seem to like him and say that he helps to make them better, but in terms of scoring runs, the results just aren’t there. and bosses/teachers that i liked weren’t necessarily the ones that got the best out of me. it almost reminds me of late in stottlemyre’s reign when pitchers came to the yankees and consistently got worse, not better.

    /end rant

    • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

      but in terms of scoring runs, the results just aren’t there.

      The Yankees’ 968-runs scored led the Major Leagues in 2007…

    • BklynJt

      I agree with your statements, but Long did have good reasoning for Cano.

      At this point in Cano’s career, pitchers were catching on to his weakness and he needed to adjust. He didnt and he had a bad season. Long didn’t feel justified in altering Cano’s stance, since Cano’s has had so much success, until Cano hit so-called rock bottom.

  • E-ROC

    I guess the Yanks scoring 200 fewer runs than last year’s team wasn’t really Kevin Long’s fault. Shocking.

    • pat

      well long was the hitting coach last year so….

  • http://knickerbockerchatter.blogspot.com Bruno
    • A.D.

      “The Yankees will take Javy Vazquez only if mental retardation spreads like a flu in the Yankees management. ”

      My favorite post

  • pounder

    Trade the bum.Lazy,undisciplined,spoiled.Trade him.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      Ah, we missed your inanities, pounder.

      • steve (different one)

        no we didn’t

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      Allow me to translate.

      Trade the bum Dominican. Lazy Dominican, undisciplined Dominican, spoiled Dominican. Trade him.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    Young players like Cano just don’t get traded anymore. Teams seem more willing to gamble on the upside while it’s cheap than sign a proven veteran that may or may not be on the decline for 8 figures.

    Just keep the kid. It’s easy to hate him when he’s struggling, but unless you’re getting a no doubt about it young starter, Cano’s more valuable to the Yanks.

    • http://barackobama.com TurnTwo

      dont disagree. doesnt mean they cant shop around, though, for that one deal that might come up.

  • Slugger27

    i think we should stick with him… obviously it would be stupid not to listen to offers and see what his market is, but i really think the offer should have to blow us away in order for us to deal him

    the dude can hit… yes his discipline makes alfonso soriano look like bobby abreu, yes he needs to draw more walks, and yes he appears “lazy” to certain yankees fans ((although i see no difference in his demeanor from bernie’s or nady’s or any other non uber-intense player)) but the dude can still hit

    hes got incredible talent, hes coming at very reasonable cost for the next few years and we’ve seen potentially what he can be when clicking on all cylinders, not to mention hes one of the few yanks that can play at least league-average defense… besides, if we trade him and dont sign hudson, were screwed for 2b, and dont even think about saying betemits name

    so yes if the offer is somethin u cant refuse u have to trade him, but i dont see that happening…. ppl always bring up kemps name ((not sure why, ive never heard anything other than a newspaper mention this possibility)) but i have no idea why LA would make this trade and besides, kemp plays a very average defensive CF and has a worse K/BB ratio than cano does

    unless someone offers ruth and dimaggio, i think the yanks have to keep him

  • Old Ranger

    Trading Cano for anyone, is a big No-No.
    Hudson is not near the player Cano is (can be), plus he is older. As stated above, you must be strong up the middle…why trade one of the only strong people we have. Jeter is going to slide (more), Posada may have trouble with his arm, CF is up for grabs…although Brett is going to win the job in SP training. So, with Brett and Cano as the strong parts (defensively), and jury is still out on their offence…why make ourselves weaker by trading Cano?
    Kevin is not the problem with these guys, these guys are their own problem. When one gets set in their way of doing things, you are dumb if you try and change them until they understand…they must adapt. So, good for Kevin…he done done good! 27/09.

    • http://barackobama.com TurnTwo

      Cano isnt a bad fielding 2B by any means when he wants to play, but you cant possibly say Orlando Hudson himself isnt a strong player. He’s won multiple gold gloves, if i remember correctly.

      • Old Ranger

        You are right but…
        He is 30-31 years old and not as good a hitter as Cano…when on. From now until 2016+ Cano improves (hopefully) whereas Hudson is going to decline starting 2010-11…am I wrong? 27/09.

  • Mike Pop

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/.....ano-s.html

    those comments annoy the hell out of me… people saying mcclouth is better than cano and how cano is such a piece of shit lol.. its so ridic how undervalued cano is

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      He’s Dominican.

  • Bonos

    You know first you need talent. You can have a thoroughbred pull a plow not vice versa. I think Long is a hell of a coach and just a change in stance fixed a lot of problems. When he works intensively with Cano this fall more good things should happen. Also Melky will be there and he could be tuned in as well. Tossing in both players would be a terrible waste.

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