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Cano Without Cabrera: Can He Do It?

On May 3, 2005, Robinson Cano made his Major League Baseball debut. The Yankees faced the Tampa Bay Rays and lost in convincing fashion, 11-4. The young second baseman went 0-for-3 with no hits and a strikeout.

Every Yankee fan probably cringed at the notion of Cano being the everyday second baseman. Although an established hitter in the minor leagues, his first game in the big leagues was quite forgettable.

Overall in 2005, Cano hit 14 home runs, batted .297, and knocked in 62 runs in 132 games. On the defensive side of the field, Cano committed 17 errors and mustered a .974 fielding percentage.

Needless to say he had yet to really break out and show us what he was truly made of.

2006 was Cano’s “coming out party,” so-to-speak. Along with being selected to his first All-Star Game, he hit 15 homers, had 78 RBIs, and batted .342—an average good for third place in the American League Batting Title race. Cano finished behind his teammate Derek Jeter and Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins.

Many theorize that Cano performed so well from 2006 and on because of his friendship with center fielder Melky Cabrera, who in ‘06 was a part of the Yankees’ main roster. The two young players developed a bond and felt a connection because of their roots to the Dominican Republic.

The two even dubbed themselves the “C & C Crew.”

In 2008 however, Cabrera was sent packing to the minor leagues for falling into a terrible slump. For the year, he hit only eight home runs, drove in only 37 runs, batted .249, and struck out 58 times in 129 games. Obviously Cabrera did not live up to his expectations and the Yanks had no choice but to option him.

With Cabrera in the minors, Cano also struggled and was eventually benched for his lackluster performance at the plate and sloppy defense. Cabrera was called back up to the majors in September and both players eventually came out of their respective funks to finish the season.

In 2009 both Cano and Cabrera had their best seasons to date numerically, and the Yankees benefited from each player’s success. Cano and Cabrera combined had five game-winning hits in ’09, and they both set career-high marks in home runs. The two young men and the Yanks finished the year the best was possible: winning a World Series Championship.

Now fast forward to 2010. Cabrera was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Javier Vazquez.

The Yankees needed a fourth starting pitcher and because of that need, Cano lost his best friend to a trade. And with that loss and Cabrera in Atlanta, how will Cano respond on the field this upcoming year? Will his numbers dip in Cabrera’s absence the same way they did in 2008?

All of these questions might be answered in Spring Training and toward the beginning of the year. Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui are also gone, meaning Cano needs to perform at the top of his game and in 2009 form this season.

To fill the void of Cabrera and Damon in the outfield, the Yanks picked up Randy Winn, Marcus Thames, and Jamie Hoffman, three players who will probably be vying for a roster spot in Spring Training. Along with the acquisition of Curtis Granderson, the Yanks’ outfield looks to be filled up this year.

Yet, if one of the off-season pickups does not live up to their expectations and Cano is struggling at the plate and on defense, don’t be surprised if the Yankees reach out to the Braves and negotiate a deal to get Cabrera back. He has already proved himself to be a major leaguer who can handle New York. If Winn, Thames, or Hoffman cannot handle it, we could see Cabrera back in the Bronx.

Cano can be a dominant player. But whether or not he can be a dominant player without Cabrera, remains to be seen.

1 comment:

  1. your telling me you are actually worried Canberra's departure is going to hurt Cano's stats? Cano Melk and Abreu used to run the city. They partied weekly by getting hammered and getting with chicks, which I loved. Abreu left and Cano's numbers skyrocketed. Melky's departure will not hurt Cano at all, in fact, it will probably help him.