By Jason Keidel
Robinson Cano is the coolest athlete I’ve ever met. His smile is quick, wide, white, and sincere. No doubt it’s largely because it’s good to be Robinson Cano, and partly because he’s just a happy chap.
He’s got a savant’s swing, dancer’s feet, and a pitcher’s arm. He plays a game for a living and is living large. His game is pristine and his personality is perfect for New York City.
And the Yankees need to say goodbye.
It doesn’t take Woodward and Bernstein to see that the Bombers can’t make it rain on the resplendent second baseman. At least not if he’s serious about bagging $300 million. In case you wonder how he came up with the Johnny Carsonian number, Buster Olney reported that Cano wants to be paid like teammate Alex Rodriguez. And we see how that worked out.
The montage of miserable teams has increased over the last few years, with the Angels as Exhibit A.
They signed Albert Pujols to a bloated contract (10 years, $240 million), and he has gotten exponentially worse since. Many pundits wonder if he will be able to play through half of that deal. And even if he does, he will likely post similarly anemic numbers. (Pujols is batting .258 this season, with 17 homers and 64 RBI)
If that weren’t exorbitant enough, they doubled-down on Josh Hamilton (five years, $133 million). Hamilton has followed Pujols through the swamp of injuries, swollen expectations, and poor performance (.246, 21 HR, 74 RBI). Though the deal was only half as egregious as Pujols’, the perilous principle still applied.
The growing logic among the intelligentsia is that you avoid sprawling contracts with 30-somethings. And the data supports the axiom. Just ask Hank and Hal, who ignored Brian Cashman’s admonitions and cracked open the vault for the disgraced third baseman. A-Rod’s hips and hamstrings are crumbling, and he’s had the legal guillotine hovering over him ever since the Biogenesis scandal broke this year.
Cano is almost exactly the age A-Rod was when he pulled the plug on the 2007 World Series to announce he was slipping through a loophole in his contract and demanding more money.
The Steinbrenners didn’t listen to logic back then. Now they need only look in their own locker room to see the risks that come with historically pricey employees.
We all realize Cano has almost unprecedented pressure on his side. The Yanks just missed the playoffs for just the second time since 1994. Between age, wage and free agency, they haven’t had this many variables and vacancies since the first days of the Torre Dynasty. So you could not find a better time to be the best player on the sport’s most expensive team.
But that doesn’t mean you cave into his cavernous contract request. When we say Cano is worth half that, we sound cheap. Until you realize we’re talking $150 million, which would make the precocious second baseman wealthy for several centuries.
In the parlance of rich folks, Yankees fans are accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Call us spoiled, coddled, or pampered, but between prodigious ticket prices, $6 hot dogs, and $10 beer, we readily fund the excess.
So you can’t charge for a Porsche and deliver a Prius. New Yorkers have every right to expect the Yankees to offer Cano more than any team in baseball. Just not double any price tag on the planet.
Coincidentally, I was in the Yankees clubhouse on Wednesday. When the players sauntered onto the high carpet and began to dress for batting practice, the media fanned out, pens, pads, and tape recorders in hand, ready to chat up their favorite players. Oddly enough, not one of us spoke to Cano. He was oddly quiet, frowning, and forlorn.
Maybe he knows something we don’t. Maybe we know something he doesn’t. Maybe it’s just time to say goodbye.
Email Jason at Jakster0529@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @JasonKeidel
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