Yanks need more out of Cano down the stretch


(Jeff Zelevansky/Getty)

There are only ten games left in the regular season, and right now the Yankees are holding on to their one-game division lead for dear life. The Orioles have been hot on their tails all month — the last time the lead was as large as even two games was three weeks ago — and there’s no reason to expect that to change in the next week. Maybe the Yankees will get lucky and clinch the AL East after Game 161 so they can rest some people the next day, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up. This thing is going down to the wire.

Despite a miserable weekend against the Athletics, Alex Rodriguez has improved and deepened the lineup since coming off the DL earlier this month. Russell Martin‘s resurgence started a few weeks ago and Derek Jeter has been a hit machine all season. Ichiro Suzuki has suddenly decided to turn the clock back to 2004, and even Raul Ibanez has shown some signs of life with a few big hits over the weekend. That’s a decent chunk of the lineup right there, but the one hitter who is standing out for all the wrong reasons right now is Robinson Cano.

Since Mark Teixeira injured his calf (the original injury, not the re-aggravation) on August 27th, Cano is hitting just .213/.308/.362 with three homers in 107 plate appearances (24 team games). It’s an arbitrary endpoint that represents when the Yankees really needed Robbie to produce like the middle of the order guy he’s expected to be. Since the end of the ten-game stretch against the Orioles and Rays (and Orioles again), he’s hit just .184/.286/.286 with one homer in 56 plate appearances (12 team games). Even worse, Cano’s put up a miserable .190/.346/.238 line with runners in scoring position since Teixeira got hurt. Things have gotten so bad that the Athletics intentionally walked A-Rod to face Cano with two men on-base in the sixth inning of a one-run game on Saturday. That’s unfathomable. Opponents should be terrified of him, but instead he grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The problems are the same as they always are, at least when Robinson struggles. He gets impatient and starts swinging at pretty much everything, making less than stellar contact and/or putting himself in bad counts. Cano’s not exactly the most disciplined hitter to start with, but he gets away with it because he’s so good at getting the bat on the ball. When he starts to struggle and expands the zone even more than usual, he becomes his own worst enemy. It’s not an accident that most of his balls in play since Teixeira got hurt are grounders to the right side — Cano tends to lunge at pitches when things aren’t going right. Whenever he struggles, it’s almost always a case of him falling out of sync rather than pitchers exploiting a weakness.

Robinson might be the most extreme player I’ve ever seen, in the sense that when he’s hot and things are going right, no one is more fun to watch. When things are going poorly though, it’s incredibly frustrating. The at-bats feel like they’re over before they even start and the jogs down to first on ground balls stand out more than usual. The Yankees can’t afford to wait around and be frustrated as Cano tries to right the ship, he needs to turn things around right now, starting with tonight’s series opener in Minnesota. Robbie is arguably the most important player on the team, and there’s little the chance the Bombers will get to where they want to go if he continues to underperform.

Categories : Offense


  1. Robinson Tilapia says:

    This should be a fun thread.

    Most extreme? More than Teixeira, especially the 2009-10 version? I don’t know about that. I just don’t think Cano’s valleys are ever that low.

    We need everyone to produce. It’s no longer a marathon. It’s a motherfucking sprint.

  2. Jose M. Vazquez says:

    I agree with you Mike. If Cano does not start to hit soon it will be very difficult the rest of the way. Arod and Teix and Swisher and Grandy have to do their part also. This is a team thing and one man cannot do it by himseelf.

    • Cliff says:

      I don’t get the complaint about swinging too much and being impatient. His OBP has been .100 higher than his avg during this “slump”. What has his BB% been, over 10%? That’s sky-high, much higher than normal for him even though he has improved in the area. What’s that if not patience?

  3. jjyank says:

    *stands guard while attempting to spot stuart a*

    • WhittakerWalt says:

      cano sucks….give him a raise for 85 rbis

      ….ike davis throws him a parade for being lazy dominican

      ….canoROID sucks give him a pat on the back…..

  4. Rich says:

    It’s true Cano’s slumping right now but he had a power outage early in the season and came around. But no one looks worse than Granderson right now–he looks like he doesn’t have a clue at the plate. I dread every plate appearance when we need a big hit or even to just get on base. Maybe put Ichiro in center for a few days and give Grandy a couple of days off….

  5. rick says:

    He gets loogied a lot more this year.

  6. Bob Michaels says:

    !84 K`s for Grandy on his way to 200? Maybe he needs Glasses?

  7. Hoss says:

    Mike, Why do still think that Cano is the team’s MVP as you wrote a few days ago on Chat? He is inconsistent and his lack of hustle is now well known… probably affecting others on the team as well (see Swisher, N., 9/23/12). I would not offer him more than a 4-year contract at less than $70 million at this point, and would rather have a Pedroia-type to man second than Cano right now. Kelly (ugh) Johnson and the money to spend elsewhere would be worth it unless Cano starts to put effort into his game.

  8. WhittakerWalt says:

    Remember when it looked like Grandy might hit 50 homers this season? Those were fun times.

    • Laz says:

      Still will hit 40 HR. He has struggled, but still 40 hr and obp around .320 is still pretty valuable.

      • WhittakerWalt says:

        He still has value, but let’s not make too many excuses for a .320 OBP. That’s pretty pedestrian. Adam Dunn’s a strikeout machine too, but at least he’s had a few .400 OBP seasons thrown in there.
        The average OBP for a centerfielder is .336.

        • Big Members Only (formerly RI$P FTW) says:

          It’s good that they’re paying so much for someone with ‘some’ value.

        • Laz says:

          I’m aware .320 is mediocre, but compared to someone like BJ Upton who some have seriously said is worth $15M, even with a .300 obp. i’ll take this as his down year. He needs to get his obp back up, but many have advocated trading him this offseason, you don’t trade someone who can hit 40 hr and has an obp of at least .320 without finding a significant replacement. He is a big part of this lineup, arod and teix aren’t the hr hitters they used to be.

  9. steve s says:

    Anyone notice that Cano’s batting stance seems to have changed significantly during this stretch, especially on the first pitch where he seems to be moving as the pitch is about to be released and he doesn’t appear ready to hit? Where’s Kevin Long with the videos?

  10. tipsie says:

    Let’s not change the subject. The current limitations of A-Rod, Granderson, and Swisher (to name a few) are not nearly as surprising as what Cano is currently displaying. This is about the homegrown, uber-talented superstar, whose head is somewhere else. Remember some of the shots he hit during the playoff losses to Texas & Detroit? Remember what those opposing managers were saying about him then? THAT Cano needs to show up very soon.

    I don’t believe there’s any way that the Yanks win three playoff series if Cano sleepwalks through the post-season. He’s too important.

    • dalelama says:

      This group isn’t winning three playoff series no matter what Cano does—too many post season Mamma Cass impersonators to win the ring.

  11. Better off Eddard says:

    What will cure Cano is Minnesota pitching. Liam Hendricks. Who? That’s the starter for the Twins tonight. Cano will go on a hot streak just at the right time and carry us to the playoffs. Cano goes 8-13 with 2 HRs. Series sweep.

  12. Frank says:

    I’ve got way more confidence in Cano down the stretch and in a clutch spot, despite his prolonged slump, than I do in A-Rod, who I see as getting by more on reputation that anything else.

  13. Robert says:

    Robby Cano doesn’t deserve big time AROD,Pulois contract.Never led league in hitting,HR or Rbi’s. It will be interesting when his contract is up next year….

  14. CS Yankee says:

    Here is to: “Cano getting back in the know”

    Plus, i would sure like to see a Dickey/Berra number on the sidebar tonight, but will settle for a Maris.

  15. Schmod says:

    What concerns me the most is when/if the Yankees give Cano a big contract, the mental lapses and lack of hustle will occur more often.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      I’m glad you’ve already psycho-analyzed someone you don’t know personally.

      I hope the Yankees have your #, because the people they talk to are probably way less educated about this than you are.

      • gc says:

        I know, right? Aren’t we so lucky to have all these close intimate friends of these players who also happen to be licensed psychiatrists to tell us all what’s going on inside the heads of these players?? Wow, we sure are blessed to have that kind of keen insight into their thoughts so we can finally know once and for all what they’re thinking and what motivates them as ballplayers.

    • Slugger27 says:

      is he prone to mental lapses now? i haven’t noticed it.

    • Robinson Tilapia says:

      Can you confirm or deny that he will continue to be Dominican if he gets a big contract?

      • Schmod says:

        I cannot confirm or deny that you suck corn the long way.

        Also, it’s an opinion you guys are so quick to jump down anybody’s throat when it doesn’t fit your view. Lets go with everything is fine. Give the guy the richest contract ever.

  16. LarryM., Fl. says:

    I’ll try to stick to the topic. Mike I mentioned in my confidence poll comment about Cano being the one player to make the difference offensively to this team.

    Robbie Cano is an excellently talented ballplayer but as any child its not always about the IQ its about the grit, the effort to succeed. I have watched Robbie who appears to be a good person and teammate. But he lacks the discipline as observed in his recent peaks and valleys to combat this issue. We have watched Robbie waltz down to first. How many double plays does Robbie hit into? How many of us believe Robbie would have made a double on the hit that Ibanez had the other night. Ibanez ran right out of the box and never stopped until he slid into second. I have timed Robbie run to first on a double play. He ran it in 4.5 seconds. 4.3 seconds is average for big leagues on a swing from the other side of the plate. I was checking for the piano attached to his back.

    I don’t mean to pick on Robbie but he’s our best player and he doesn’t hustle. Swisher missed a ball on a dive. Robbie saw him reached for the ball and pulled up on the assumption Swisher would get it then as it rolled past Cano tried to pick up speed to make the play. It went through the infield.

    Somebody that Robbie respects has to get it into his head to hustle all the time. He is our missing link to the WS. I’m sure Girardi and Pena two fiery guys must besides themselves with Cano’s lack of hustle. He’s our best player but could be the best player in all of baseball if he hustled and got his head in order at the plate.

    Jeter leads mostly by example. He’s running on one leg. Does Robbie not see his playing partner to his right. Does he not see the love that the fans give Jeter even in his worse moments. Why does Robbie get a pass and Arod booed? Robbie may have too much Boras on his mind which means dollars but he could be surprised when he is not a Yankee for his entire career like Jeter, Mantle, Yogi and Mattingly to mention some of our heroes.

  17. Mikhel says:

    So, I guess this means that JoeG will put him again as 3rd or 4th in the lineup, followed by Martin and Ibáñez, with Ichiro as 8th or 9th to go with his “Player Of The Week” award.

    I hope history doesn’t repeat itself with what we saw in July in Oakland when the NYY hitters couldn’t do much with pitchers they had never seen.

    Though this year it seems they have not been as bad versus pitchers they’ve never seen, they still try to hit it out of the park in their first time facing them in the game, only to be “fooled” by curveballs, usually managing 1 or 2 hits at the most in the first 4 innings.

  18. stuart a says:

    Amen. Cano may get his money but the team that gives it to him will big time regret it. he will be 30 and a free agent. he is not small for a 2nd baseman and he does not hustle all the time or even most of the time.

    he has been horrible this year, I think his WAR # is a joke….He is just not an elite player, best 2b in baseball but that is not saying much….

    I let him walk if he wants more then 4 years…His #’s are only going to continue to regress…He is as clutch as Nicky Swisher and that is not to clutch…

  19. coolerking101 says:

    This is why giving a guy like Cano a long term contract scares the hell out of me. When he’s on, he’s a beast….but he’s a streaky hitter with questionable plate discipline. When his bat inevitably speed slows down, he’s going to fall off a cliff.

    I love him, but I would let him walk before giving him more than 5 years.

  20. hmelawyer says:

    Cano is extremely talented and number show that, especially when compared to other second basemen. However, of all the elite Yankees I have seen over the past 30 years or so, there is no one I can remember who seemed to care so little. It used to be little stretches where he seemed bored. Now in the heat of a pennant race, I can’t even remember the last time it seemed like he hustled. Run down the line on a grounder . . . Fuhgeddaboutit. Hustle in the field to knock a ball down even if you can’t make the play . . . Are you serious? I wish I could take a good dose of Cervelli passion in put it in Cano with all the skill he has shown in his career. I am no longer counting on ever seeing that, and thus I no longer care if he stays with the Yanks or not.
    At his worst, ARod always seemed to care. Might not have performed in the clutch, but you could always tell he cared.

  21. Big Members Only (formerly RI$P FTW) says:

    He’s just bored like Montero was in AAA. Right, Mike?

  22. OldYanksFan says:

    Sorry for the RePost, but this seems right in line with this thread.
    For September:
    Cano: .234/.337/.403/.740
    Grandy: .186/.265/.475/.740
    ARod: .292/.346/.444/.790

    Last 7 days:
    Cano: .222/.276/.296/.572
    Grandy: .111/.280/.167/.447
    ARod: .280/.321/.280/.601

    It’s amazing we’re still in this thing.
    Our September heros have been Ichiro, Martin and Raul. Think about that.
    Jeter needs to seriously kick Cano in the ass, and hopefully he’ll land on Granderson.

    I expect more from Robbie than Grandy, but nonetheless, we can’t ignor Granderson’s failure.

    • WHIPunk says:

      If your disappointed in those numbers from Arod then I would hate to see your reaction to that being his average numbers for the next few years. He ain’t getting younger and .278/.350 is what i figure him to average, slugging he can still rake.

  23. vicki says:

    lotta sox fan talk above. ‘he ain’t a dirt dawg! he just needs to CARE more!’

    • CS Yankee says:

      Fact: Cano in Spanish means “no care”

      I have a friend that’s a paramedic for the local FD, and his co-workers give him shit for being the last guy on the truck…he claims when he gets hurried and stressed it affects his proformance in a bad way in making mistakes and he knows he’s more gifted than the guys who run around and keep pushing.

      What we know is that Cano is extremely gifted player and he makes some of the slickest and smoothest plays in the game and I don’t expect him to ever “bat down” a ball…I would like him to break out of the batters box and down the line, ever single damn time, though.

  24. Tom Morea says:

    I tend to agree with the majority of the postings regarding Cano. I would not presume to psycho-analyze Cano. However,he has been playing major league baseball for seven years and has not learned to adapt to the strike zone. He is still swinging at pitches over his head and in the right-hand batter’s box. O’Neill continually comments on how Cano gets himself out by swinging at pitches out of the strike zone.Everyone marvels at the beautiful swing Cano has. Yet he will never win a batting title because of his approach at the plate. Cano is slow afoot, yes, slow you read me, and he lacks the ability to hustle. So, with all these deficient mental lapses, one can only conclude that Cano is
    a half-wit.

  25. Rocky Road Redemption says:

    Mike, your post has opened up a floodgate for really silly comments. You have only yourself to blame.

  26. Curt and Bernie says:

    I really don’t think patience is his problem right now–the isolated obp of that sample size doesn’t speak to patience being the root problem.

  27. OldYanksFan says:

    Cano will not age well. He is already a low OBP guy, compared to his BA. When he slumps, he loses all plate disipline. As he ages and loses bat speed, if he continues this pattern, his BA will suffer more.

    I love his talent. But he doesn’t hussle and, as stated above, after 7 years, he is still sloppy at the plate.

    Ted Williams said THE MOST IMPORANT aspect of batting, is waiting for a good pitch. If Cano could take that to heart, he would be a monster.

  28. Squints says:

    Why not shop Cano before resigning him? See what they could get in a trade. Starting pitching, speedy outfielder, serviceable infielder? Just a thought but Cano could get some talent, probably not value but good players.

  29. FreeAgentSignee says:

    I agree Mike.

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