• Klapisch: Cano Holding Back Yanks

    Posted by on April 23rd, 2008 · Comments (11)

    Bob Klapisch focuses on Robinson Cano today. Some highlights:

    Instead, it’s the offense, which led the major leagues with 968 runs last year but before Tuesday night’s 9-5 victory over the White Sox, was averaging just 4.3 runs per game, last in the American League East.

    What’s wrong? Just about everything: The veterans have either been hurt (Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada) or useless (Johnny Damon and Jason Giambi). Perhaps the most surprising under-performance of the month is coming from Robinson Cano, who signed a four-year, $30 million deal over the winter, and since has sputtered his way to a .173 average.

    But one major league talent evaluator who tracks the Yankees predicted Cano would suffer in 2008 after Joe Torre went west and took third base coach Larry Bowa with him.

    It was old-school, in-your-face Bowa who kept Cano focused. The scout said that upon Bowa’s decision to join Torre’s staff in Los Angeles, “I had a feeling Cano would suffer because of it.”

    “The fact that Robby’s started slowly hasn’t changed my opinion of him, not one bit,” general manager Brian Cashman said by telephone on Tuesday. “He works hard, and has worked hard. To say otherwise makes for a good story, but it’s not reality. He wants to be the best second baseman in the history of the franchise, that’s his makeup.

    “People who are down and dirty with him know that.”

    Cashman says it’s a combination of “bad luck” and cold weather that have depressed Cano’s average. And he also hints that slow starts are sometimes part of great hitters’ profiles. “Just like Bernie Williams or Don Mattingly,” the GM said. “We’ll wait it out on Robby.”

    This is interesting. To Klapisch’s claim, like Cashman, I wanted to say “Well, Cano’s always a slow starter, etc.” here. But, just now, I checked the numbers and saw that’s not 100% true.

    Last April, Cano batted .270 – and the April before that (in 2006) he batted .316…both of those marks are way above his current batting average of .173, right? (And, for the record, in his career, Cano is a lifetime .264 hitter in May.)

    Lifetime, Cano has been a force with the bat from June through the end of the season. So, maybe he will lift his average again with a strong finish, like Cashman says here? But, it’s a much longer way up from .173 than it is from the .260 to .270 range, no question. Looks like Bob has a point on this one.

    Comments on Klapisch: Cano Holding Back Yanks

    1. Rich
      April 23rd, 2008 | 8:18 am

      Klapisch must have anonymous sources who are always ready to paint doom and gloom scenarios for the Yankees on speed dial.

      Cano batted over .400 during ST. I doubt that he has suddenly gotten lazy.

      But hey, it’s April 23rd. Let’s panic.

    2. MJ
      April 23rd, 2008 | 8:35 am

      I agree that Larry Bowa was a fantastic influence on Robinson Cano and that it would be only natural for the pupil to miss the teacher. But I don’t think Bowa was the motivating force behind Cano’s ascension as a great hitter. If anything, Bowa was the guy that turned Robbie from a lousy 2B into a pretty darn good one.

      Cano’s hitting is horrendous right now and there’s no doubt he’s been a drain on the team. But I wouldn’t say it’s because Bowa’s gone. Who knows what the problem is but I’m sure if Klapisch actually knew what it was, he’d be in baseball instead of just writing about it.

    3. Raf
      April 23rd, 2008 | 9:45 am

      It’s a slow start, it happens. Jeter had one a few years ago, and posted numbers in line with his career.

    4. Zack
      April 23rd, 2008 | 10:03 am

      Yeah, he may have had a decent April, but those have been followed by atrocious Mays. So maybe he’s just getting it out of the way early. Sure, he sucks right now, but he’s hardly alone.

      But to blame that suckitude on missing Larry Bowa? Thats just plain ridiculous speculation. What, because Bowa was “old school” and “in your face” it somehow made Cano try harder? Isn’t that exactly what Joe Girardi is?

      Cano suffers from Manny Ramirez fan syndrome, in that because he has an easy swing and looks effortless in what he does, despite playing excellent defense, fans immediately assume he’s lazy and doesn’t care. But there is no way, none, zero, you get as good as Manny or Cano without trying and caring.

      Cano’s problem isn’t “lack of focus,’ it’s that he’s in a funk. He’ll snap out of it. Maybe he won’t. But it would have nothing to do with Larry Bowa…

    5. gphunt
      April 23rd, 2008 | 10:40 am

      I think his strike outs are down which is a good sign. He seems to still be hitting the ball pretty hard and I’ve seen some good defensive plays made against him.

    6. Nick-YF
      April 23rd, 2008 | 10:56 am

      “Cano suffers from Manny Ramirez fan syndrome, in that because he has an easy swing and looks effortless in what he does, despite playing excellent defense, fans immediately assume he’s lazy and doesn’t care. But there is no way, none, zero, you get as good as Manny or Cano without trying and caring.”

      I completely agree with this statement.

    7. RollingWave
      April 23rd, 2008 | 10:58 am

      Damon’s useless to a tune of 123 OPS+

      Cano leads the team in line drives. he’s getting robbed at a unbelievable pace.

      this article will look retarded come June

    8. jeter96
      April 23rd, 2008 | 11:22 am

      Ah yes, the old ”Lets judge a player in April” Chesnut.

      Let Robby be Robby and enjoy the hitting spree this summer.

    9. April 23rd, 2008 | 1:25 pm

      Cano has been prone to going into huge slumps and is usually a slow starter and gets hot in the second half, so I’m not worried about him at all.

      I’m sure he’ll have month where he hits close to .400 and torches everything that crosses the plate.

      Cano’s AVG by month for his career:

      April: .253
      May: .264
      June: .324
      July: .351
      August: .283
      Sept/Oct: .365

    10. GatorGossage
      April 23rd, 2008 | 5:31 pm

      The numbers support the bad luck theory. Check out Cano’s yearly babip numbers:

      2005: .320
      2006: .363
      2007: .334
      2008: .183

      And it’s not like his LD% is way down either. In 2006, it was 20%. In 2007, it was 19%. So far this year, it is 16%. (By contrast, Giambi’s LD% so far this year is only 5%!)

      As a rule of thumb, you can expect a player’s babip to be roughly LD% + .120. We would expect, on average, Cano’s babip to be about .280 given his LD%. It’s about .100 lower than that – almost certainly a matter of bad luck and small sample size.

    11. Joel
      April 23rd, 2008 | 6:28 pm

      All the makings of journalism at its best: Making a crisis out of a small period of time; envy over a big contract; and of course, the unnamed scout.


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